Tag Archives: Books

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.

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:

Gunner:                                                                  

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.

Georgia:

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.

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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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Rainy Day Music

Am I the only one out there whose musical inclinations are affected by the weather? Maybe it’s the weird way my brain works, but Motown/Al Green/Aretha sound best on snow days, the Beach Boys and really any other 60s pop shine some sonic sunshine in those really early days of March when you want it to be warmer than it is, and outlaw country (we’re talking Waylon and Willie and the boys) is meant to be listened to while outside on hot summer days, preferably with a cold drink in your hand.

Well here in Indiana, it’s been really rainy the past few weeks, and for me, there is a really natural pairing musically for rainy days: alt-country/Americana, or whatever you want to call it. This is basically scientific fact, and if you don’t believe me, try listening to Whiskeytown or the Jayhawks or Uncle Tupelo or the Avetts next time the rain starts to fall. I can’t explain it, but this type of music somehow sounds its best on a drizzly and overcast afternoon. Trust me on this one.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made this spaghetti squash carbonara, and it was seriously SO good. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I did not miss the pasta.
  • Speaking of Whiskeytown, my brother lent me Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown which I started and finished over the course of a few hours this past weekend to complete book #7. The book was really interesting to get an inside peek at Ryan in Raleigh in the late 90s, on the cusp of being famous. However, the author inserted himself WAY too much in the story, which I found really distracting.
  • Tim and I had our weekly date night last Friday.
  • I kept up with writing in my journal and taking photos.

March Madness

Basketball has always been special to me.

My childhood was spent in packed Southern Indiana high school gyms where the air was filled with the smell of popcorn, shoes were sticky from spilled Cokes, throats sore from cheering, and countless renditions from the band of the school song was the soundtrack. These images are so strong in my mind, so intertwined with my love for the game.

I was going to high school basketball games before I can even remember– as a tiny baby in my mother’s arms while she cheered on my dad’s team. Some of my very earliest memories are from the Harrison High School gym– watching my dad coach as he paced up and down the sidelines, staring in awe of the cheerleaders, being carried around by the players, cartwheeling on the court floor after games.

There were also all those games cheering on my older brother as he played all through grade, middle, and high school. We traveled all over the state watching Tyler, feeling proud when he’d have a good game and feeling sad and frustrated when he didn’t get enough playing time.

Like so many other Indiana families, I also grew up knowing nothing but love and undying devotion to the Hoosiers. I have memories of my mom and dad betting on Butler vs. IU games, taking in games at Assembly Hall, and countless road trips narrated by Don Fischer. Bob Knight is still a giant in my world, and the 1976 Hoosiers are sacred.

I was never really much of a player myself, but that never stopped me from getting lost in being a fan. Basketball isn’t just something I’m passionate about, it’s a part of who I am. I’ve had my heart swell with victories and break from hard losses. My dad and I religiously follow all of his former player’s teams as there are several who are now coaching at the elite level, and from November through March, we analyze games via texts and phone calls and travel to random places to cheer them on. My husband, a diehard Duke fan, and I bonded over our shared love of basketball when we first started dating, and every year since we’ve been together Selection Sunday has been as big of a day as birthdays and anniversaries.

I always say March Madness is my favorite time of year. The buzzer beaters, the underdogs and Cinderella stories, the rivalries– collegiate competition at its finest! I can’t even articulate how much I love it. I watch every single second, from the play-in games to the Championship, and I LOSE myself in cheering for the small schools and the great coaches while taunting and booing the Kentuckys and Syracuses and the like. This year, I’m so happy to cheer on my Hoosiers (who barely squeaked in) and my alma mater, the Belmont Bruins.

Tim and I always have the best time filling out our brackets, and each year we’ve been together we’ve made it a fun competition. We both tell ourselves each year we aren’t going to pick with our heart, but both of us always end up doing it anyways because it’s impossible not to. This year, we did the whole Selection Sunday process with our best friends who are equally as smitten, and it was wonderful. I think it’s safe to say we’ve started a new tradition and I couldn’t be happier.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • Obviously, as shared above, we started a new tradition with our best friends. There are two photos below.
  • I made this Tuscan white bean soup for my weekly recipe and it was amazing!
  • I finished book #6, Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. Stunning and sad and perfect.
  • I’ve stayed really dedicated to writing and taking photos daily.
My random draws.

My random draws.

Our board for the random draws.

Our board for the random draws.

The Quiet

We’ve been living in our new house a little over a week now, but it took only about a day to notice just how quiet it is there. Our neighborhood is a little off the beaten path, and our house is set back into the woods a bit– with no one behind us, and with both neighbors spaced pretty nicely away from our house. A lot of the noises I’ve become very accustomed to throughout most of my life have been replaced with stillness and quiet. There is no road noise, no loud announcements or bells or athletic games (our last two places were both near schools), and I’ve yet to hear a single siren. It is so fantastically peaceful.

Adding to the quiet is that we still haven’t set our cable up yet– mostly because we just haven’t had the time to schedule it. I totally figured this would bother me, but it’s actually been a really great break from over-stimulation.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but a normal day for me typically involves a LOT of screen time. It’s sad to admit, but I usually look at my phone first thing in the morning after I wake up (for missed texts, emails), eat breakfast while watching Good Morning, America and check my phone again (for email again, weather, and also by this time my first Facebook/Instagram check), then I sit in front of a computer for a lot of my work day, and then at home at night Tim and I often watch TV while simultaneously looking at our phones for God-knows-what (Pinterest, social media checks yet AGAIN, Googling random things) without really spending quality time together. I am often so stimulated with technology that it has taken the break like I’ve had to even recognize it.

It would seem that the lack of cable would make me more dependent on my phone, but it’s actually had the opposite effect– I’ve been way less reliant. And I don’t know if it’s this lack of technology or the peacefulness of our surroundings, but I have found myself mentally slowed down. I feel free from all the distractions that usually dominate my home life. Instead of zombie-ing out in front of the TV, Tim and I are spending our evenings eating dinner without the interference and are actually engaged in quality conversation. We are going to bed earlier and therefore waking up earlier, but feeling so much more well-rested. I’ve also been sharp and focused. Without the distractions, I’ve been reading a lot more, writing in my journal like crazy, staying on top of keeping the house clean and organized, cooking and even prepping for future meals, and taking my dogs out for a daily walk through through the woods. And when I do want a little noise, I’ve been listening to music– like really listening to it, which sounds so simple, but it’s something I have always loved and  honestly there for a long time chose TV or Netflix over it just out of habit.

I’m sure here in the next week or so, cable will be set up again and, of course, we will continue to watch TV and screen time will always be a part of our daily lives. But I do hope that we don’t just fall back into old habits and get lost into the distractions again. I’d like to use this as a fresh start, to really commit to living a little more simply, and to focus on my priorities. And at least for the time being, it’s been a very welcomed break.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made Nancy’s Chopped Salad for my weekly recipe, and it’s so freakin’ good!
  • I finished book #5, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).  Absolutely hilarious, just as I had expected. I also started book #6 already, Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. It’s a gorgeously written account of losing 5 dearly loved men in 4 years. It makes you feel ALL the feelings.
  • Tim and I had a date night Saturday night to Restaurant Tallent, just the two of us. We hadn’t done that in forever and it was so wonderful!
  • I’ve been on a roll with writing in my journal and photos this past week!

Let’s Take a Break

Between a work trip over the weekend, spending our evenings working on our new house, and just trying to stay afloat with the general busyness of every day life, I’ve totally run myself ragged. You know that feeling where you aren’t quite sick but you don’t feel well at all and you’re desperately exhausted? That’s me. I’d love to have a day to just run away, avoid all the responsibility, and do nothing but relax, but there’s just too much to do and not enough time.

To combat this, I’m trying to do my best at getting enough sleep at night and making sure we are eating somewhat healthfully, but both of those aren’t so easy to achieve with all we have going on. I feel like the best I can do is just take it day by day and cut myself some slack when I need it. Right now, that means taking it a little light on my 29 Before 30 until we get settled into the new house– meaning, you may be hearing a little less from me over the next few weeks. Until then!

List accomplishments as of last post: