Vickers vs the Chipmunks

I had heard many stories of people battling some type of rodent or furry creature that was destroying their yard (and I remember a particularly epic war from my childhood between my dad and some moles), but I don’t think I really got how intensely frustrating these creatures can be until this first summer as a homeowner.

We are currently losing the fight for our yard to chipmunks. And we don’t just have 2-3. We have an entire chipmunk community living in both our front and back yards, and they have built an insanely intricate network of tunnels and holes all over the place. They are living in wood piles, under our deck, in the crevices of our patio, and under our shed. And they are inviting ALL of their friends to come join them.

I always thought chipmunks were cute before, but let me tell you, their charm has worn off quickly. They are taunting and teasing and torturing our dogs– making Georgia and Gunner believe that they can be caught before darting down into one of their holes, causing those naughty-ass dogs to try and dig after them, creating bigger holes and muddy paws and noses that have to constantly be cleaned off. OOOOF.

In an effort to take back our yard, we have started capturing the little guys in a trap by luring them with almonds and then taking them to some woods across the highway for release. So far, we’ve caught 4 but I swear I have not noticed a decrease. Vickers 4, Chipmunks 20.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I checked off a few summer bucket list items over the course of the last week, and one of them was hosting brunch. I made these sparkling negronis for my weekly recipe. Take one of my favorite cocktails and make it brunch-friendly by adding bubbles? Yes, please.
  • I started book #8: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. Very funny!
  • Tim and I both had a weekly date and a day trip on Saturday when we went to Indy for a little fun and shopping.
  • As has been extensively documented here, our yard is a serious work-in-progress. We have a lot of weeds to kill, trees to cut down, and grass seed to plant before we can plant much of a garden…BUT we did buy some cute pots at Lowe’s and planted some calla lilies and hydrangeas that we surrounded with a few annuals to pretty up our front porch. My hope is to not kill the hydrangeas and lilies so that we can plant them in the yard next year.
  • I’ve kept up on writing and taking photos. Below is a picture of our new plants:

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Summer Bucket List

I feel like every summer I name several things I want to do, either with my husband or friends, leading with “we should…” sentences. You know the drill, I’m sure. “We should go camping/have a cookout/learn how to can fruits and veggies” and so on and so on. I have no problems verbalizing them. My problem is always the follow through. Life or laziness or both tend to get in the way, and before I know it, it’s fall. One of the best parts about maintaining this blog and my 29 before 30 list is that it’s held me to my word– and for that, I’m so grateful because I have accomplished goals and made memories along the way that perhaps I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I really want to apply a little bit of that same follow through to my summer because right now work is a little lighter with my students gone, the weather is amazing, and the days last longer. And also, isn’t there just something about summer that feels like it’s the time to do fun things?

Here are just a few things I really want to do before my summer ends:

-Take my dogs swimming. Lots.

-Spend the weekend at my family’s cabin.

-Plant an herb garden.

-Have several picnics.

-Get some cute patio furniture.

-Host a brunch.

-Take advantage of my parents pool.

-Visit several of the nearby state parks.

-Go to the drive-in movie theater.

-Make cold-brew coffee.

-Play ladderball or cornhole or both.

-Take some fun daytrips.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made two recipes last week to make up for the lack of one while we were on vacation. First, I made this thin crust pizza, which I topped with olive oil, garlic, fresh tomatoes, parmesan, basil, and pepperoni. I can’t recommend this crust enough– it was SO easy and turned out perfectly. Then, over the weekend I made toasted marshmallow milkshakes. They were amazing!
  • I dealt with a horrible migraine over about 3 days last week, so my sweet, sweet husband booked me a facial and neck/shoulder massage to help relax. I paired that with a much-needed manicure, and thus, treated myself to a pretty fantastic spa day.
  • The night I made milkshakes, Tim made the best cheeseburgers and French fries, and we ate out on the porch for the best date-night in we’ve had in awhile!
  • I kept up with writing and taking photos all last week.

 

Our Road Trip Through the South

We just got back from the best vacation– a road trip that took us from Indiana through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. We, of course, loved where we stayed, but had such a great time between the stops, too,  as we were talking, listening to music, and watching the scenery go by as we drove. Tim is a southerner himself, having been born and raised in North Carolina and then living in Tennessee for a few years before we met in Nashville, and although I was born and raised here in Indiana, I have always had a strong affinity for the South– I love the friendly people, the food, and the slower pace, and I absolutely adored my time in Nashville during undergrad. So when it came time to choose a route for my 29 before 30 road trip, the South was a natural choice.

I’ve mentioned on here before that I plan vacations around food, and we ate like absolute kings on this trip. We also got to see both the mountains and the ocean, and we stayed in really residential areas in AirBnb’s the whole time (outside of a downtown hotel in Savannah) in order to both save money and get the experience of a local. So great.

Here a few highlights from each stop:

Midway, KY: Our very first vacation meal was breakfast in Midway on our way to Asheville. Midway is between Louisville and Lexington, right in the middle of bourbon and horse farm country. It was such a beautiful little place to make a pit stop, and we headed to the Midway School Bakery for country ham, egg, and cheese biscuits which were amazing. I can’t wait to go back!

Asheville, NC: This free-spirited, foodie-centric mountain town was right up our alley. Not only is Asheville totally gorgeous, but it has an unspoiled quality to it– it’s cool without trying too hard. The RAD (River Arts District) is full of great studios and co-ops where you can see artists working on new pieces while their other work is on display. We had the best time wandering around this area and poking in and out of various studios. The RAD was walkable from West Asheville, which was where we stayed and was a great home-base for us. We had so much great food in Asheville, but my favorites were probably our lunch at White Duck Taco Shop, a dinner at The Admiral, and the best donuts I’ve ever had in my life (no, seriously) at Hole Donuts. One of my favorite things we did in Asheville was drive a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drove up to Mount Pisgah, which was probably one of the most beautiful scenic drives I’ve ever experienced. We chose not to do the Biltmore on this trip because it’s pretty pricey and we also were only in town for two days, but I could definitely see us doing it on a return trip.

Durham and Chapel Hill, NC: Our next stop was a day trip through the campuses of Duke University and the University of North Carolina. My husband and I are both huge college basketball fans (with Tim being a die-hard Duke fan), so we wanted to take pictures by these famous basketball arenas. Tim got his picture in Krzyzewskiville and by Cameron Indoor, but unfortunately we were there on Memorial Day and couldn’t get into the museum/hall of fame there. Next, we visited the Dean Dome and wandered through UNC’s campus, which is the oldest state college in America. It’s probably the most beautiful college campus I’ve ever seen outside of IU. We had fantastic BBQ with Tim’s family in Chapel Hill at The Pig and stayed the night in Burlington, NC with Tim’s dad before heading out for more vacation the next day.

Charleston, SC: There are so many museums in Charleston, but all you have to do is walk around the downtown area and you are immediately surrounded by so much Revolutionary and Civil War history. We loved looking around the cemetery at St. Michael’s and reading the historical preservation signs on the houses from the 1700s. The gas lamps, breeze from the coast, and Spanish moss hanging from the southern live oaks make Charleston ridiculously romantic, too. We fully exploited the access to fresh seafood and had particularly memorable meals at The Ordinary and Leon’s Oyster Shop. Charleston is so perfectly situated with a handful of great beaches so close by, and we enjoyed two of them: we laid out and swam in the ocean at Folly Beach and had ridiculously great Italian fare at The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island. We also loved the area we stayed in Charleston: near Hampton Park in a really pretty up-and-coming residential area that was about a mile walk to some great Upper King cafes, bars, and restaurants.

Savannah, GA: We had only planned our stays in Asheville and Charleston and decided to leave the rest of our itinerary up in the air so we could make decisions on the fly depending on how we felt. After two days in Charleston, we decided that Savannah being under 2 hours away was too tempting and we’d have to go see it. We took a really beautiful and scenic route down highway 17 and made stops at the Angel Oak (which is HUGE and estimated to be 300-500 years old) and Beaufort (the second oldest town in South Carolina) along the way. Savannah has that same charm from the Spanish moss and southern live oaks, but also has block after block of gorgeous squares. It may be the prettiest city I have ever seen in the US. We had great burgers at The Public, and enjoyed rooftop cocktails while overlooking the Savannah River at the Top Deck Bar. We also loved wandering around Savannah with drinks in hand due to it’s open container freedom a-la-New Orleans. One thing I’m dying to go back and do is a nighttime ghost tour. They were all sold out while we were there, but we did have the happy accident of wandering into the bar at 17Hundred90 which is supposedly haunted and was also just such a cool place that was filled with locals.

Nashville, TN: My love for this town is evident. I grew up traveling to Nashville often as a kid, and then jumped at the chance to go to college there. It’s the place where I met my husband and we had our wedding, so it will always hold a really special place in our hearts. Therefore, a road trip through the South wouldn’t be complete for us without a stop in Nashville. Even though we were only there one night, let it suffice to say we made the most of it!

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made sauteed onions and peppers to go along with brats before we left on vacation last week– an Ina recipe, so you know it was good! Clearly, I cooked nothing while on our trip, so look for two recipes in next week’s post.
  • Not only did I complete my road trip, but I also checked off ordering the most expensive bottle of bubbles at a restaurant! It was French, made exclusively of pinot noir, and paired with oysters, so let’s just say it was perfect.
  • I wrote every day while on vacation and took a ton of pictures! Here are a few below:
The biscuit from Midway School Bakery

The biscuit from Midway School Bakery

Climbing a tree over the French Broad River along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Climbing a tree over the French Broad River along the Blue Ridge Parkway

The spread at The Pig

The spread at The Pig

Before dinner at The Ordinary

Before dinner at The Ordinary

A square in Savannah

A square in Savannah

Driving into Nashville at sunset

Driving into Nashville at sunset

The Fine Art of Making a Mix

I’ll be the first one to tell you that when it comes to creating things, I’m not very good at it. In fact, I’m the worst. I was always bad at all art class assignments, I can’t craft to save my life, and I’ve never successfully DIY-ed a single thing. Meanwhile, I’m married to a man who designs and builds much our furniture, has a knack for painting, and DIYs everything successfully. Go figure.

There is, however, one thing I am pretty good at creating: mixes. I don’t just throw a bunch of songs onto a CD or playlist haphazardly. I obsess over everything from song selection to order of songs to title of the mix itself. It’s something I have always loved to do, and it’s a true sign of my love and devotion if I make a mix for you. I don’t know why I take it so seriously and so personally, but I do. I made four new mixes last night for our upcoming road trip, and I totally lost track of time for those few hours. It’s totally dorky how much fun I have doing this.

There are several steps to my process, but here are just some of things I think about when making a mix (be forewarned– #nerdalert):

1- First, who is this for? Even if it’s for me, I’m always planning on sharing it with someone in one way or another, so it’s important to know who all will be hearing it. I like to pick things I know that person will like as well as things they’ve never heard but I’m pretty sure they will like. I like to pick songs that for one reason or another make me think of that person. I like to pick things I know will make that other person laugh or smile. Like I said, it’s very personal.

2- What is this mix for? A road trip, a birthday, a party? The context in which the songs will be listened to is very important.

3- Going off of the above, is there a theme? I love a good theme to a mix. I’ve made mixes of songs that were important in my childhood, mixes of feel-good music, more dirty rap mixes than you can shake a stick at, and so on.

4- Song selection. It’s the most important element after you’ve established answers to 1-3’s questions. This is a process. Set aside a good amount of time for this. I add songs, then take them off, and then sometimes add them back. The songs all have to work together cohesively. Like I said, #nerdalert.

5- Song order. This is another part that takes a lot of time after you’ve selected your songs. I’ve always subscribed by this quote from one of my favorite movies, High Fidelity: “The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” Songs have to flow from one to the next, and the mix can’t taper off at the end. You have to find the balance.

6- Naming the mix. This is always my last step. Don’t underestimate a good title for your playlist. It helps set the mood and will help you remember what’s on the mix. Bonus points if it also makes you laugh.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made spicy sriracha lettuce wraps for my weekly recipe. Awesome.
  • Tim and I had a date night in last Friday– we can’t be stopped with Game of Thrones. SO GOOD. I can’t remember what we had for dinner, but I do remember Tim picked up dessert from Feast for us.
  • Kept up with writing in my journal and taking photos.

 

On My Mother

With Mother’s Day having just passed, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment or two to express just how lucky I am to have the woman I call Mom in my life.

Never on this earth has a more gentle and compassionate person existed than my mom. She is the person who always sees the good in people and knows how to bring it out of them. She is never demanding but always endlessly supportive. She is considerate and so very gracious. She is a person of the highest integrity.

I have a lifetime of memories with my mom because she always been there for me, but what really stands out for me is that she has never once forgotten a big day or big moment in my life (or my siblings’ lives either, for that matter). She always wrote good luck notes before a big test, track or gymnastics meet, or interview. She has never let a single Valentine’s day, anniversary, accomplishment, or birthday go by without a sweet card. And whenever I’m stressed or having a really busy work week, she always sends me a text to let me know she’s thinking of me and knows I’ll make it through. She is the single most thoughtful person I know.

Thanks, Mom, for all you’ve ever done and will continue to do for me. You really are the best, and I love you!

List accomplishments as of last post:

  •  I made pesto, and then proceeded to put it on everything: steak, grilled asparagus, tomatoes, sandwiches. So good!
  • I worked on tracing the other (maternal) side of my family tree. Another item checked off!
  • Sunday was a total date night in, complete with Thai food and a Game of Thrones binge.
  • I’ve kept up with writing and actually have slowly eased back to at least taking a few pictures a week. In the spirit of my post though, here’s one of me and my sweet mama from a few weeks back:

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Currently…

Here’s just a brief glimpse into my life lately.

I’m currently…

-Obsessed with Game of Thrones. I fought watching it for so long because I thought I’d hate it for some reason, but I was hooked about 2 episodes in, and Tim and I have blasted through seasons 1 and 2 in no time at all.

-Listening to the new Alabama Shakes. SO FREAKIN’ GOOD.

-Craving Mexican food. Because a) when am I not? and b) it’s Cinco de Mayo.

-Spending all my free time planning our road trip. I love that for only two days in each city, I still need a list of at least 27 restaurants I MUST eat at per city. I plan vacations around food; it’s just what I do.

-Daydreaming about France, particularly Paris. We were about to leave for our two-week French vacay right around this time 3 years ago. Can you tell I’ve got some serious wanderlust?

-Loving spring. Perfect weather. All the promise of summer.

-Excited to be wearing sandals again. I find sandals to be the most superior of all footwear.

-Noticing I need a serious pedicure though, due to said sandals.

-Thankful I don’t have to work commencement this year. First time in 5 years. Whatever shall I do with myself?!

-Feeling really satisfied. That might be the best feeling of all time, by the way.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made the perfect margarita recipe! I highly recommend putting a little cayenne in the salt around the rim of your glass.
  • Took two day trips this weekend: one to Edinburgh for a little shopping, and one spur-of-the-moment trip to see my parents.
  • I did really well at getting back into writing each day, but I’ve sucked at taking pictures this past week. Goal for next week.

It’s Been Too Long

It’s been way too long since I’ve written on here, but I’d like to think I have a pretty darn good excuse. Those that know me know what I do for a living and that I just completed the weekend/events/miracle on cinders that we work towards ALL YEAR LONG. And due to a few extenuating circumstances, it was particularly busy and stressful. There was just no time to write on here or do many of the items on my 29 before 30 list. I mean, there was barely any time to see my husband or be home for anything other than sleeping or think about anything besides work. But I made it through, and successfully, I might add, due to the greatest co-workers and students a person could ask for. And even though I’m crazy tired and still decompressing, it was one of the most rewarding times of my professional career and I’m filled with a lot of pride.

Now that I’ve made it through, I will do my best to get refocused on my list as I am well over the halfway point and it’s go time!

List accomplishments as of last point:

  • I did manage two weeks ago to make Thai Beef with Chiles and Basil, and it was awesome! I didn’t really have time to cook at all last week, but I did make myself this Coconut Date Shake for breakfast last Monday morning. SO GOOD!
  • I watched 1962’s Best Picture winner Lawrence of Arabia maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago? I can’t remember. Pretty impressive special effects for an early 60s film.
  • I bought my investment piece a few weeks ago! I needed a new purse, and have never treated myself to a nice one before. I normally don’t spend over $30 on one, but I wanted something unique and high-quality that I would keep for years to come. I ended up getting a Leaders in Leather cross-body from Relish here in Bloomington, and I love it!
  • I can’t believe it because I totally didn’t train, but I also ran in a 5k– the Little 500 5k on April 18th to be exact. I was sore for 2 straight days, but I did it– with help from Tim.
  • I’m not going to lie. I didn’t write in my journal really at all, and I only took a few pictures here and there, but I hope to get rolling back on both of those this week.