Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Sentiments: One

Sunday Sentiments is an attempt to record what God has been teaching me and the way in which He does it.

I have to start by saying I love my church.  I've had the privilege of attending Fellowship a couple of times a year whenever I visited Tracy the past 5 years.  Every time I would return home and tell everyone about the sermon that weekend.  God used those sermons to minister to me in countless ways.  This church is one of the reasons I was so excited to move here.  When I visited Tracy, Joel, and Anna in September, the pastors were starting a new series on Genesis.  When I moved here 5 weeks ago, they were in the 4th chapter of Genesis.  You can see that they are taking their time with this.  The last few weeks have been spent on the flood account.  As a girl who attended Christian grammar school and Sunday school, I am still learning so much.  Parts of the story I had taken for granted have been turned upside down.  I am seeing the beauty of the theology behind the flood.  And yes, I'm still being ministered by this careful examination. 

About once a month, I start to really struggle with being single.  You can probably guess when that is but I'm not going to spell it out for you.  There are, of course, other times that being single is difficult, some of which has been highlighted by this move.  Before moving here, I at least had my parents just a 10 minute drive away and a huge network of family and friends.  Now, it's up to me and me alone to keep my place clean, run errands, deal with the landlord, set up the million things that need to be set up when you move out of state, and more.  I have some friends here, to be sure, but they're all married, mostly with kids.  And while I love them, sometimes that only highlights how alone and single I am.  I share all this to let you know my current mindset.  I want to be married but I'm not going to settle for less than God's best.  And so that's why I'm still single, somedays more content than others.

Before he began preaching this morning, the pastor took a moment for corporate prayer.  It started out fine.  And then he started praying for the married couples and the parents.  I could feel myself start to detach, muttering to myself that he better mention singles!  I have sat in far too many services where the unattached are ignored.  Or if we are mentioned, it's a general platitude.  I've never sat in a church and listened to a pastor preach on singleness.  Given my current emotional state, I wasn't sure I could handle the pastor overlooking me and the rest of my single brethren.  But he did pray for those who are single or who have lost a spouse.  (Never mind that those are two entirely different categories or that it doesn't account for those who are divorced.  Can you tell this is a hot button issue for me?)  The prayer was something along the lines of using this time to serve God because we don't have commitments to a spouse or kids.  I think there might have been something like us being less busy but I might have heard wrong.  And then he prayed that we would remain pure.  Let me be clear that I respect this pastor so much and I don't think this prayer was wrong.  It is my personal frustration that often the response to anyone who is single is that we have a plethora of free time or that we should just serve more.  I may not have tons of free time now that I'm back at work but it's true that I don't have to consider the needs of my spouse or children.  If I want to do something, I generally do it.  Yes, this may free me up for more ministry opportunities.  Yes, God may be able to use me more now as I am single than He would if I were married.  Those answers just don't always sit well with me though.  So I grumbled a bit.

Today's sermon was about how God remembered Noah (Genesis 8:1-19.)  Here's what stood out to me.  There is no record of Noah talking to God during the 377 days he was on the ark and he didn't leave the ark until God told him to.  Can you imagine being in the ark with all those animals and your family day in and day out with no clue of what would happen next or when it would happen?  Michael asked, "if God never spoke to you after the moment of your salvation, would you still follow and obey Him?"  God never shows up on our schedule, only His own.  Can I be faithful and obedient no matter what the circumstances are?  The only way we can do this is to know that God remembers us and is with us.  We can rest- be settled- in this truth.  Michael then went on to talk about how to rest is to wait.  And we don't like to wait.  Suddenly, I was uncomfortably reminded of my internal response to the corporate prayer.  This is where it really hit home.  Not wanting to wait is my selfishness.  Bristling about singleness platitudes or being overly sensitive to my plight is my selfishness.  I don't know why I haven't met Mr. Right yet.  There's no guarantee that I ever will.  Focusing on being single may cause me to lose sight of everything else God is doing in my life. I need to trust God during this "in between" time. One does not have to be the loneliest number.  It might be the number that can bring God the most glory.  That, in the end, is all I really want.

Sunday Sentiments

I often leave church mulling over a point from the sermon or connecting it with something I read earlier in the week.  Sometimes lyrics play in my mind or a passage from a book won't let me go.  Every once in awhile I take the time to journal about those thoughts.  I want to be more intentional about capturing those moments and creating a spiritual record that I can look back on and hopefully see how God has grown me in the meantime.  That being said, I've created Sunday Sentiments definition:

sen·ti·ment [sen-tuh-muhnt] 


1. an attitude toward something; regard; opinion.
2. a mental feeling; emotion: a sentiment of pity.
3. refined or tender emotion; manifestation of the higher or more refined feelings.
4. exhibition or manifestation of feeling or sensibility, or appeal to the tender emotions, in literature, art, or music.
5. a thought influenced by or proceeding from feeling or emotion.
6. the thought or feeling intended to be conveyed by words, acts, or gestures as distinguished from the words, acts, or gestures themselves.
Sunday Sentiments will be my thoughts and attitudes about something God is teaching me or perhaps an area in which I'm struggling.  (Friends and family, it may be helpful to consider this as a weekly version of Chili and Doughnut Night, minus the Chili and Doughnuts.)  My posts might be about the sermon that morning, a conversation, a book, or a song.  Or the majesty of the great outdoors.  Or a painting.  Or...the list goes on.  God uses so many things to teach us and I want to be more sensitive to what He has for me.  Please feel free to respond to whatever I write about or let me know what God is teaching you.  

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I'm still waiting for the maintenance man to make repairs in the office so it is still a disaster zone.  The kitchen countertop/island is covered in scrapbook supplies (I may reach my 31 Things goal yet!)  The living room is a little out of sorts for other maintenance man-related concerns.  But I realized I still owe you all pictures of my new place.  Today I present you with my bathroom.  It's a bit narrow, making it hard to take any full shots.  Here it is!  (Pictures of my bedroom are here if you missed it.)

Walking in
The picture was an Ikea purchase a few years back.  
No picture of the toilet- I trust you can use your imagination.

The little basket was given to me by Phanutat, the CCS director during my time in Trang, Thailand almost 6 years ago.  It's made out of banana leaves; Phanu surreptitiously bought it one day at a farmers market and then gave it to me on my last day.  Such a sweet memory.  The picture in the frame is from a trip to Maine.  This area of the bathroom makes me think: serenity.
Lots and lots of closet space

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kindred Connection: Movie Edition

I'm a little behind in the blogging world this week.  Starting a new job will do that to you.  What better way to celebrate the start of the weekend than by discussing movies?  That's right: it's Kindred Connection time.

1. What was your favorite movie as a child?
 My favorite Disney movie has always been Cinderella, hands down.  At one point in my life, I had it memorized.  Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea were viewed an insane number of times- I was madly in love with Gilbert.  Other favorites included The Neverending Story, The Princess Bride, and Troop Beverly Hills.  Princess Bride is still a classic but I have a feeling it might be painful to watch the other two.

2. If you could live in any movie as your fictional world, which one would it be?
I love the townsfolk in the small Irish town that The Matchmaker is set in.  Few people have seen that gem of a movie but it is fantastic.  I wouldn't mind being transplanted into Pride and Prejudice, BBC version of course.  Hello, Mr. Darcy.  
3. Have you ever seen a midnight showing, or hosted a movie release party? Tell us about it!
By virtue of friends who are Star Wars fanatics, I went to midnight showings of the second and third Star Wars movies (I get confused on the numbers because in my mind, they were the fifth and sixth in the series.)  I've never hosted a movie release party but I have hosted many a movie night.

4. What movie release are you most looking forward to this year?
Eclipse!  I don't think of my pals in Nashville are Twilight fans so I might not see it until I go home for Jill's wedding in August.  I've watched the other two movies with a different friend Jill and she has agreed to go see it with me then.  Although we both have permitted each other to watch it with others before then.  The movies in no way live up to the books but it is fun seeing different scenes come to life.  Let me just say that the Edward I envisioned is way hotter than the actor currently portraying him.
5. Are you a theatre goer, renter, or wait-and-buyer?
 I used to LOVE going to the movies, back when it only cost a few bucks.  Now that it's so expensive, I either wait for movies to come to the cheap theater or rent them.  I had Netflix for awhile, which was handy but I wasn't watching movies fast enough for it to be worth the money.  Plus, I love the communal experience of watching a movie so a theater or renting with friends is the best way for me to go.

How would you respond to these questions?  Comment here or link up on your own blog.

Windy Poplars

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gigi's Cupcakes

I'm officially in love.  When I lived in the Chicago suburbs, I loved heading to Molly's Cupcakes in Lincoln Park whenever I needed a cupcake fix.  True, there were cupcake eateries closer than the city but they just didn't come close to the perfection that Molly's served up daily.  I'm talking about filled cupcakes.  Anyone can whip up a nice frosting but when you had a ganache or marshmallow filling...yum.  The Ron Bennington was a personal favorite: chocolate cake, peanut butter filling, chocolate ganache, and crushed butterscotch topping.  I decided that it would be my quest to find a filled-cupcake maker in Nashville but I didn't have to search far.  Gigi's Cupcakes has it all!  The cupcake specials change daily and are listed on the website.  I visited yesterday for the first time.  There were no filled offerings but I was more than pleased with my options.  I decided on the Strawberry Shortcake (white cake baked with fresh strawberries, topped with a strawberry buttercream frosting and red sugar crystals), Peanut Butter Cup (milk chocolate cake topped with peanut butter frosting and honey roasted peanuts all drizzled with chocolate), and Texas Milk Chocolate (milk chocolate cake topped with milk chocolate frosting, chocolate sprinkles, and a bright yellow fondant star.)  Since I start work on Monday, I thought I'd get a couple of after work treats. 

Obviously I couldn't wait until Monday to have one so I went with the more healthful Strawberry Shortcake- I mean, it's fruit-based, right?  I'll save the chocolate decadence for when I need it!  The cupcake was moist, the frosting high and perfectly strawberry flavored.  In short, I'm hooked.  I've already looked at what the specials are for next week so I can plot my goal of trying all the cupcakes Gigi has to offer.  Just reading the descriptions makes me drool.  And the good news for you is that Gigi's has locations in a bunch of places- other parts of Tennessee, but there's also one in Alabama, Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Las Vegas and Denver.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Something else that makes me happy

I just learned that the 3rd season of The Rachel Zoe Project will be starting August 3!  I love Rachel Zoe and have been following her career since before she got the show.  I can't wait to see the fashion and the drama!  Oh, and My Boys is back July 25.  Top Chef is back tonight and So You Think You Can Dance is back under way.  Hurray for summer TV!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Things that Make Me Happy!

I upgraded from a 4 year old Nokia flip phone to a Blackberry Bold a couple of weeks ago and am loving it.  It was a bit of a transition but it's nice to have a decent text messaging plan and access to email.  So far it is not turning in to a Crackberry.

Pretzels plus M&Ms?  Amazing!  I will need to pour out a handful and then put the bag away.  Otherwise I will eat the entire bag in one sitting.  It came close tonight.
Latest issue of InStyle always makes me happy.
I've been shopping for work clothes and it is surprisingly hard to find decent pants.  Just because it's summer doesn't mean we can all wear cropped pants in the work place!  Luckily Gap has these hip slung slim flare pants, and in an ankle cut no less.  No tailoring for me!
The Civil Wars in concert, on CD, in any form I can get them. (photograph not mine)
Good books.  Just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and now working on Ahab's Wife.  I love losing myself in a novel.

The White Sox beating the Cubs 2 out of 3 games this past weekend.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  I sat down and read the whole thing in almost one sitting.  I've read parts of cookbooks before but never read one cover to cover.  The recipes are seriously amazing and her pictures and anecdotes make the pages come alive.

Phone dates with friends back home.

Figuring out how to go to places in Nashville without directions or maps!  I have faith I will have this city figured out in no time.  And by no time, I mean give me at least a year.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pen pals

A new blogger that I've been following recently wrote about having her first pen pal.  I started to reflect on some of my past and present pen pals and realized that I'm pretty blessed in this department.  There is something about receiving real mail.  An actual card or letter.  It's sad that mail is starting to be grouped in the "old-fashioned" category.  What with the advent of email and all manner of social networking, younger generations may one day relegate the post office.  Personally, I hope I'm not around when that day comes.  I stubbornly cling to stationary and Hallmark and will defend the etiquette of writing Thank You cards until my dying day.  (This is similar to my zeal for daily newspapers and magazine subscriptions.  I will save print media one person at a time!)

I have had 3 main pen pals in my lifetime, along with the odd letter back and forth post-camp and freshman year of college.  First, there was Debbie.  Our 3rd grade classes exchanged letters and she and I were matched together.  I envisioned her life in California as full of sunshine and time at the beach and the zoo.  Little did I know that a year later her family would move to my hometown!  Her adopted grandmother was a teacher at my school and friends with my mom.  Miss Bingham, or Gladys as I like to call her, arranged for Debbie and I to meet before school started so she would know one friendly face.  Debbie became one of my childhood best friends.  Isn't it funny how things work out?  We went to different high schools and lost touch during college.  Thanks to the magic of Facebook, we're in touch again.

The next pen pal was set up by my mom and his mom.  They met at a craft show they were in, realized they had kids that were both sophomores in high school, and put their matchmaking skills to the test.  We wrote back and forth for almost a year but I think I dropped the "writing back" ball in the end.  It was fun to get his letters and learn about his life, as well as share mine.  Of course I wondered whether love was in the air, and maybe he did too, but we'll never know.

The third pen pal is my dear friend Allison.  We went to high school and youth group together, at least until her family moved up to Wisconsin after our sophomore year of high school. We started writing letters back and forth.  And when I say letters, I really mean tomes.  I actually found a box full of those letters before I moved (up until recently I had kept every single card and letter I'd ever received.)  It was hilarious to reread our highs and lows, the boy drama, the escapades. I also found several mentions of her now-husband when they were first getting to know each other.  Who would have thought?  Allison and I wrote each other all through high school and I think part of college.  Then life got busy or we switched to email.  Aside from a couple of visits in college, we grew apart.  Just like Debbie though, Allison and I reconnected on Facebook.  She found this blog.  Shortly before my 30th birthday, she emailed me and asked for my address.  I was intrigued but then forgot about it as my mom and I headed off to North Carolina.  When I returned, I found a beautiful card from Allison.  She directly touched on some of the things I'd expressed here.  She let me know what my friendship had meant to her in high school, especially since we lived in different states. She encouraged me as I faced the Big 3-0. I was so moved!  Here we were connecting through the mail once again.  I suggested we renew our pen pal-ship and she agreed.  (Thanks, Allison!)  We don't write as frequently as we did in high school and the letters are definitely shorter but I think they are also richer in their depth.  We discuss our hopes and fears, what God has been teaching us, and more.  I just received Allison's latest a couple of days ago.  It was such a thrill to see it in the mailbox! Total confession: I have this horrible stationary I'm trying to get rid of right now.  It has a picture of Jesus as a shepherd in the corner and a huge box of it was gifted to me for high school graduation. What about an 18 year old girl implies that she would enjoy "grandma" stationary? There have been few occasions for me to delve into that particular supply.  In any case, Allison has kindly agreed to let me use it up on her. And no, that's not the real reason I suggested we become pen pals again!

The beauty of a written card and letter is that they imply time and effort.  Unless you're using pencil, you can't delete the written word.  I think more about what I'm going to write before I put pen to paper.  Yes, you can scribble out a mistake but then it mars the stationary. Even the stationary you choose can be an expression of your personality. For instance, I wouldn't mind owning this or this or even this.  A couple of former coworkers and friends back home would also like to trade snail mail. I owe replies to a couple of them already. I say, the more pen pals the merrier! 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Spider Hunting

It was 11:37 pm Friday night, I was about 10 pages from the end of the engaging The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, when I saw something move on the floor opposite my bed.

It's not that bugs make me squeamish.  I have no problem getting rid of small bugs and spiders.  However, I've moved to Nashville, land of the Brown Recluse Spider. I took proper precautions when I first moved in to my house.  Kelly and I cleaned it from top to bottom, finding only small house spiders.  Of course, I don't want any type of spider in my house so those had to go too.  Then I laid out some glue spider traps just in case.  Until last Sunday, I thought that maybe, just maybe I would be safe.  Then I came out to work on my scrapbook on the kitchen island.  There was a spider.  Right along the edge of my scrapbook.  I tried to see what kind of spider it was but it is SO hard to look at one of those things and detect special markings!  So I just killed it.  I swear those spiders sense when people move in and have furniture and objects they can hide under. Then Wednesday morning I found one high above the shower- thankfully the steam and humidity immobilized the bastard until I could smash it.  I do admit to relish in crushing those bastards.

But back to Friday night.  I was in bed.  As in, I wasn't wearing any shoes to step on a poisonous spider.  And I didn't have my handy Ace Harware fly swatter I got for free at my hometown 4th of July parade a few years back.  I did have another book on my nightstand, one I cared less about than the Guernsey book, so I tossed it at the spider but missed.  I swear that spider and I spent a few minutes looking at each other.  It was a face off for the ages.  Finally I decided I had to do something or I would never go to sleep.  As I carefully got out of bed, my shadow fell over the spider and it went scampering off towards the other wall, under my bed.  It of course steered clear of the glue trap under there.  I couldn't see where it went.  I hiked up the bed skirt (apparently bed skirts are a no-no because the brown recluse will crawl up it in to your bed but I really like my bed skirt so I wasn't going to get rid of it until I knew for sure there was a problem.)  Then I sprayed lemon scented (apparently spiders don't like this smell) cleaner all around the bed.  I noticed that the baseboards on the wall by my bed had some gaps underneath so I wondered if the brown recluse went under there.  I can only imagine the comical sight of me scampering around, trying to get to my shoes, grab the flyswatter, and wage war without getting bit.

I had a serious heart to heart with God and did my best to sleep.  It was not my best night's sleep to say the least.  In the morning, I carefully peered underneath the bed and found the glue trap had nabbed it after all!  Thanks God!  Of course, it still wasn't dead so I had to smash it with some paper.  Then I just threw the whole trap away.  There might be a way to kill a brown recluse on the glue trap and reuse it but I don't feel like risking my well-being to figure it out.

I had a few things to do yesterday but spent the rest of the afternoon and evening brown recluse-proofing the house.  I have some spider repellent spray on order and I'm trying to locate chestnuts, something else spiders don't like.  Then I caulked the cracks under the baseboards and in the floor.  The office needs more spider proofing but I can't do more until the maintenance man fixes the problems with the closet.  The piece de resistance was washing the floors with lemon-scented cleaner.  Hopefully that will be last brown recluse spider sighting in my home!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Three Years

Yesterday marked three years since the death of my beloved Grandma.  Earlier in the week, I was catching up on my scrapbook and finally came upon pictures from her final two months.  The timing was certainly interesting.  I've worked with the pictures before when creating these memory books but hadn't touched the ones I'd printed out.  I thumbed through each one and allowed the memories to wash over me.  Pictures from the hospital, nursing home, and finally her home when it was time to start hospice.  So many people poured out their love on Grandma and my family during that time. 

Sometimes it feels like she died so long ago and then I wonder if I've forgotten the sound of her voice, her laugh.  How do you lose something so ingrained?  In the last year or two I had a dream that she was there and my family was singing "You Are My Sunshine" to her; she pulled me aside after the song and during our heart to heart, she laughed and it was as if all was right with the world.  It is the only time she has physically appeared in a dream since she died.  It is hard to convey the depth of our family's loss if you didn't know my grandma.  She was simply a wonderful woman, open to how God would use her for His glory and uncomparably compassionate.  My grandma left me an incredible legacy.  She was always there for others, especially during times of illness and death.  She knew how to be present to pain.  And she knew how to laugh in the midst of heartache.  Family gatherings are not the same without her, even as we've tried to keep up traditions like Cream Cheese Jello, sprinkles, and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus at Christmas.  We've all changed as a result of our loss.  My faith has grown immeasurably as God has comforted me and proven Himself faithful through the valley of grief. I don't miss her in the same way anymore.  Now I miss her for the times that she will not be around, like when I get married or have children, whereas before I simply wanted her to be.  I am comforted that she has been in heaven these three years and would never ask her to trade the glory of that place for the temporal pleasures of this earth.  And as I prepare for more transitions ahead, I hope she would be proud of the decisions I make and the paths I take.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kindred Connection: Food Edition

The Kindred Connection hosts a weekly link up, this time centering around one of my favorite subjects: food.

1. What is your favorite ethnicity of food?
 This is a tough call.  I love Mexican food but I can't go long without a Thai or Indian food fix.

2. If you could eat only one meal for two weeks straight, what would it be?
Probably Pasta alla Carbonara or just a good steak.  Ooh, or the Caprese Benedict from Honey (I miss that place!)
3.What is the "signature" dish that you cook? (you know, that always receives rave reviews and/or you get requests for the recipe - feel free to share the recipe!)
Is it bragging to say that anything I cook becomes a signature dish?  It probably is but I really am a good cook!  I'm famous for my annual Chili and Doughnut dinner in the fall.  My baked Mac and Cheese is a sure-fire crowd pleaser.  No one passes up a serving of Beef Stew.  I whipped up a Pico de Gallo-inspired salad for Memorial Day that had a kick and led to requests for me to make it again in the future.  And my Gooey Butter Cake was so good, a friend proposed to me.  
4. Is there something that you just can't handle eating - like gag reflex?
Meatloaf for some reason really offends my taste buds and my stomach.  My parents used to make me eat a small slice and I'd always cover it in cheese to try and make it more palatable.  To no avail.  Also, I don't like fish.  I'm always open to trying it anew but I've never liked it.
5. Do you think that the Kindred Connection should continue through the summer, or take the summer off?
 This is my first time linking up to Kindred Connection so I think it should continue!
If you'd like to join in on the food fun, head over to Kristin's blog and link up!
Windy Poplars

Go Blackhawks!

Perhaps the only downside to living in Nashville, aside from missing family and friends, is that I am very far from my beloved Chicago teams.  Luckily, I'm still able to catch the occasional White Sox game on TV and was able to watch the Blackhawks vs. Flyers Stanley Cup games, including last night's fantastic win.  Still, it's strange to sit at home watching a game by myself, knowing that most of the city I now live in has no vested interest in who won.  Especially since I knew many friends and family back home were watching together and screaming their hearts out.  No matter.  The Blackhawks finally ended the 49 year old championship drought last night and brought the Stanley Cup back to Chicago.  I loved watching Toews' expression when he was interviewed post-game and then when he realized he had won MVP.  Stunned, overwhelmed, happy, content.  The Blackhawks fought hard all season; it seemed that the Stanley Cup was the only right outcome.  I admit to watching their games only sporadically; most of their games were shown only on cable, which I didn't have.  To be fair, and I include the Bears in this category as well, it's hard for me to take in other games outside of the White Sox.  Baseball is such a long, demanding season that I'm about sported out afterward.  I keep track of scores and watch the occasional football or hockey game but baseball is my true love.  I don't hold myself as a hockey super fan, nor would I say I'm riding the bandwagon.  I'm just happy the Blackhawks won.  It's a good day to be a Chicagoan, even if one no longer lives in Illinois.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


The rest of the house is still being tweaked but, at last, I can show you my bedroom.  I apologize for the poor pictures but I did not have my photographer hat on today.
Hope chest my dad built for me in junior high
The curtains are one of the best purchases I've ever made.  They keep the light out and help with temperature control.  Plus, I got them super cheap when Linens and Things went out of business.

To the right are various receptacles for my jewelry- I keep every day earrings in the green leaf, chunky necklaces in the earthen bowl, etc.
Examples of when I do have my photographer hat on
This is tucked behind the bedroom door
I use every inch of closet space- I miss my walk-in but this is still a HUGE step up from my teeny tiny childhood closet

I'm sure I'll make some other changes in the decor in my bedroom but so far I like it.  One of the best features is the ceiling fan my dad installed.  My landlord's maintenance man is behind and there is no screen on my window so I would roast without the ceiling fan, as I've discovered the limitations of a box air conditioner.  Every home has its glitches though and I can live with mine.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Tracy and I headed to Otters for some fried pickles today. I've lived in Nashville for over 2 weeks and hadn't had a fried pickle fix yet.  With a Groupon in hand, Tracy showed me the quickest way to drive to Otters Music Row location.  She is having a busy day so we got our food to go.  As we were leaving, two guys were walking in.  I thought to myself, "they look like musicians."  And right after I got a good look at the dreadlocked guy, Tracy said she thought it was Jason Castro.  I don't watch American Idol but I'm familiar enough with the contestants- plus he played at Jason and Molly's wedding (of The Bachelor fame.  See, I do watch some reality TV.)  The minute she said his name, I knew it had been him.  The other day I drove past what looked like the lead singer of Kings of Leon (the band lives in my area) but this counts as my first celebrity sighting since I've moved here- a blurred drive-by is trumped by eye contact.  When we got back to Tracy's, she did a little Googling detective work and discovered that JC is indeed in town.  As for the fried pickles...they weren't the best I've had from Otters but you can't go wrong with Bleu Cheese dipping sauce.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Why I don't leave home without my camera

Anna is serious about suitcases. 
She was quite content to check out the luggage at Ross, whilst her parents were shopping.
This one was more her size.
And she loved learning this little trick.
But we always return to our first loves.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This marriage proposal gave me goosebumps.  Read here for the whole set up.  Thanks to Hollywood Housewife for the link!

Friday, June 4, 2010

99 Memorable Experiences

I stumbled on to Leigh Ashley's blog, mostly intrigued that we shared the same name, and found this list of 99 Memorable Experiences, as originally compiled by The World is My Oyster.  Basically, you highlight the things you've done.  If you want any explanations, you'll have to comment!  Of course, I could add an experience or two not featured on the list but it was still cool to see some of the things I've accomplished already and what I might still like to do someday.
1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disney

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sung a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a thunder and lightning storm

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Been sky diving

66. Visited a Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Gotten a tattoo

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee


What are your most memorable experiences?
What have you done on this list?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Changing the Discharge Hose

I bought a washing machine off of a friend before moving here but the hoses needed to be replaced.  My dad is a carpenter and a genius when it comes to any of your home-related needs.  In between getting me unpacked, we ran over to Lowe's to purchase the necessary hoses.  Only there was one problem.  My washing machine is from GE and apparently GE likes to make special discharge hoses.  The Lowe's discharge hose would not cut it.  So I had to special order the part from an appliance store- easy enough if you know your machine's model number.  My dad showed me what to do when the part arrived.  I love being handy!  And because my heart goes out to anyone else who might be replacing a discharge hose, I decided to capture the moment and create a tutorial.

This is what the discharge hose looks like:

Make sure both hot and cold water hoses are turned off.  Unscrew the retainer from the washing machine and thread the hose through the retainer.
The "bumpy" end then goes into the machine, like this:
Tighten the screws:

Thread the other end of the hose up to wherever it will be "discharging" and make sure it's in there real good
Fasten the hose to the machine for extra support.  A twist tie works great!
Voila, you're ready to wash some clothes

Per my dad, it's a good idea to turn the water valves off whenever you're not washing clothes.  That way you'll never come home to a flood.

Quality Music

One of the highlights of living in Nashville is that it is the home base for many of the bands I adore, or if it's not the home base, it's chock full of venues they play regularly.  I know Chicago has a great music scene but when you factor travel time from the suburbs, finding parking, and then the cost of the ticket...let's just say Chicago forced me to be choosy about which shows to go to.  Last night I was ecstatic to go see The Civil Wars, whom I've mentioned here before, at the Mercy Lounge.  They were actually one of the opening bands for Cadillac Sky.  It was Cadillac Sky's CD release party and the $10 ticket price also included a copy of the CD!  How cool is that?  (Cadillac Sky was incredibly entertaining, I should note, but I was still caught up in a "music high" from The Civil Wars.)  The Civil Wars played a bunch of new songs they've been working on for their full length album, which hopefully will release late summer or early fall.  I can't wait!  There was one song in particular that brought tears to my eyes- it was along the lines of waiting patiently for a relationship.  I tend to struggle being single, not because I'm incapable of being by myself but because I so want to be a wife and mother.  God, and probably this move, has been tugging at me to process through some of those emotions this week.  I felt like the song was from God, just letting me know He gets it, He knows where I'm at, and I need to trust in His timing.  I do trust in His timing- moving to Nashville is a testament of that fact- but it's harder to trust Him when it comes to this area.  Still, I will strive on.  And listen to The Civil Wars evermore.