Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Tracy and Joel hosted a barbecue today for some of their community group members.  I had met a couple of people before this but tonight gave me an opportunity to get to know everyone better.  People have been very encouraging after hearing the story of how I got here and seem to think I'm going to like Nashville.  Even though I can't quite believe I'm REALLY here, I think I'm going to like it too.  I'm going to see The Civil Wars, a band I adore, with a new friend on Wednesday.  I am loving the music scene already!  My place is starting to feel more and more like home.  The office is still a work in progress but hopefully I'll be able to take pictures soon. 

It's strange not to be working but I am loving this time off.  It's been so long since I've had consecutive weeks off.  I'm getting my To Do list done but I'm also taking time to relax and hang out with Tracy and Anna.  I adore Anna's grin when she sees me come in their house!  My campaign for Favorite Auntie is going well indeed.  In the meantime, I'm trying to figure my way around town and use this time off wisely.  Still need to get some fried pickles, however...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Show Us Your Life- Things that you LOVE/Make you Happy

Compliments of Kelly's Korner, today's Show Us your life is all about things that make us happy - things we love!
  • My fantastic parents who love my unconditionally and moved me across state lines and then helped get me settled into my new home.
  •  Having "grown up" conversations with my brother Matt

  •  A fantastic, supportive extended family
  • For better (2005) or worse (2010?), the Chicago White Sox
  • Irish Breakfast Tea
  • Making the annual Ode to Friendship CD. I have found so many great new artists already.  This year's is going to be so great!!!
  • Cooking for friends and family
  • The Pioneer Woman
  • Getting hired for my dream job!  (Thanks, God!)
  • A stellar goodbye party.  I will miss these friends:


  •  These girls have been with me through thick and thin and have never blackmailed me for it.

  •  These babies:

  •  Making new friends in Nashville
  • A nice steak dinner.  Or Mexican food.  Or Indian food.  Or food in general.
  • Fried pickles.  I prefer the spears but I'll take my pickles fried in any form.  
  • Chocolate and peanut butter.  I want some right now.
  • Augie friends!


  • Watching God move in my life and in the lives of my loved ones
  • Traveling.  There are so many places I must see!
  • Reading.  And libraries that support my book habit.
  • Writing, creating, painting, etc.  Love it all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

31 Things Update

I'm slowly whittling down my list of 31 Things and thought I'd update on what's been accomplished and what's in the works.

1. Visit my brother Matt in Virginia- hopefully slated for the fall
2. Move to Nashville- accomplished this past weekend!
3. Flambe something
4. Read 100 books- last count was 51 books.  I just might outdo myself if I keep this pace.
5. Go to a writing workshop, read a book on writing, etc.- submitted an entry to a writing contest and joined an online writing community
6. Take a horseback riding lesson- Tried to get this set up before I moved but it fell through.  I might have to look for a Nashville option or else fit it in during my next trip home.
7. Go to the Holocaust Museum
8. Eat at one of Rick Bayless' restaurants- done and so delicious!
9. Scrapbook 2007, 2008, and 2009- almost through with 2007 (I actually had to finish a couple of months of 2006 before I could start 2007, too.)
10. Complete Anna and Katelyn's birthday presents
11. Go to Medieval Times - quite the experience
12. See the new Modern exhibit at the Art Institute- loved it!
13. Dance every week -dancing with the kiddos in my life= awesome
14. Update my recipe book - started
15. Buy a new stereo system
16. Reacquaint myself with my Canon Rebel
17. Regularly paint and sketch- Need to do this more often but nonetheless enjoyable when I can make the time.
18. Make next T-shirt blanket
19. Do an intense Spring Clean- I cleared out so much stuff while I was packing, it was ridiculous.
20. Enlarge blog readership for HopefulLeigh - Up to 18 (public and private) followers now.  Click on the tab on the right to Follow and help me reach my goal!
21. Enlarge blog readership for Confessions of a Young-Looking Social Worker - holding steady at 52 right now!
22. Eat at 5 new restaurants- Two down.
23. Get my next tattoo
24. Consult a naturopath- Does an online naturopath count? 
25. Preserve my White Sox 2005 World Series newspapers and memorabilia
26. Buy a new computer printer- Buying plans are on hold as my good friend Kelly gave me her old printer.
27. Be a peacemaker- striving to do better here
28. Bring back Last Minute Dinners - snuck this in before I moved
29. Cook a real meal 2-4 times per month whether or not I'm having company - doing really well on this one, especially with my extra free time now before work starts
30. Find a new small group Bible study- I'm going through Discovery at my new church, which will give me an overview of the ministries, etc.  I'll figure out what I'm going to do after that.
31. Be open to wherever this next year takes me! - Clearly on board with this re: recent move.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Before

It might be awhile before I'm ready to post "after" pictures...or else I'll post one room at a time.  This was the blank canvas that awaited me last Friday.  I'm grateful for family that was willing to move furniture this way and that until we found the perfect place for it all.  Things are shaping up!

The view from the back door
 The view from the front door
My bedroom
Office/spare bedroom
 Bathroom
 Kitchen
 Living Room (A sneak peak of what may end up there)

Marche review

My parents and I headed to Marche after church for brunch on Sunday.  Friends recommended it as a great place and we were not let down.  It was a zoo in there but our wait only ended up being about 20 minutes.  Apparently they stay busy on the weekend from the moment they open, until the moment they close.  The decor is reminiscent of a French boulangerie.  There are lots of big tables that you might share with others but potted flowers serve well as centerpieces and table dividers.  The food was delicious.  I thought I'd go for breakfast but couldn't pass up the Risotto Primavera.  To die for!  Dad went with the 3 Egg Omelette and Mom had the Crepes with Artichoke Hearts, Mushrooms, etc.  They were both fans of their meals.  At the head of the restaurant is a cafe to order drinks and goodies.  There's also a sampling of artisanal breads, cheeses, and more.  I can't wait to go back!

#2: MovED to Nashville

I'm officially a Tennessean now.  Well, not officially official.  I need another form of address verification before I can go down to the DMV to get my new license.  Once I get my first utility bill, I will head on down. 

I seriously can't believe I'm really here!  I actually did it!  A year ago, I'm not sure I would have had the guts to go through with this move but now that I'm here, it's so clear that this is where I should be.  God really brought everything together and I know He will continue to open doors.

It's been a whirlwind this past week.  Wednesday was my last day of work.  Thursday we picked up and loaded the moving truck.  Then I left to stay overnight with a friend in Indianapolis.  Friday morning I drove the rest of the way here and picked up my key from the rental office.  My cousin Adam and his wife drove the Penske truck down, and my parents drove in their car.  Once they all arrived, we unloaded the truck in record time and dropped the Penske truck off. Adam and Kelly made the rest of the weekend into a much-needed vacation and my parents helped me get mostly unpacked.

I still have more unpacking to do but my place is starting to feel like home.  And I have a few more weeks until I start my new job so I have plenty of time to accomplish everything on my Nashville To Do list and maybe even a few leftover projects to boot.

Monday, May 17, 2010

God at Work

I received some fantastic news today. Pending my background/reference check, I have been offered the pediatric social worker position in oncology/hematology!!! My focus will be on brain tumors and sickle cell disease. This was my #1 pick of the three possible positions and, incidentally, my dream job. Six weeks ago, I thought I would end up moving without a job and now 4 days before I move, I have a job! God is so good! I have clearly seen His hand at work ever since I decided to move to Nashville back at Thanksgiving. And when I think of what He's done so far, I can only imagine what will happen next!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hair transformation

I "lost" a foot of hair.  I love having long hair but I was ready for a change.  So I took the plunge and donated my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which uses donated hair to create wigs for cancer patients.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gooey Butter Cake

I am 100% obsessed with this cake.  I tried it for the first time in Nashville a few weeks ago.  I then convinced my best friend we needed to make it that same weekend.  That version was good but not quite what I was hoping for.  This recipe here comes close but I might monkey around with the crust and come up with a whole new way of doing this in the future.  In the meantime, this dessert tends to inspire declarations of love and adoration- it's sure to be a hit at any party.  I won't judge you if you eat the whole thing by yourself though!

Gooey Butter Cake
Crust:
yellow cake mix
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla

Topping:
8 oz. cream cheese
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla  (almond extract is a nice substitution as well)
15 oz. package confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix first 4 ingredients together.  Pat into a 9 x 13 pan.  Mix last 4 ingredients together- slowly add sugar.  Pour over cake layer.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until top has turned a caramel color and has cooked through the middle.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

#11: Go to Medieval Times

Today I headed to the magic that is Medieval Times with Jill and the Gat.  I may or may not have openly mocked MT in the past but I thought it was one of those things that every self-respecting Illinoisan should do.  And since I won't be an Illinoisan for much longer, it was now or never.  We posed with the king.  We ate large hunks of meat with our hands.  We cheered for the Yellow Knight (and then the Red Knight since he was hot and we needed someone to cheer for once the Yellow Knight was offed.)  I fully embraced the horse show, the fighting, the faux violence.  It was cheese-tastic and I loved every moment.  Yes, I felt somewhat ridiculous amongst those kids and families but at least I had my two pals with me who were equally ridiculous.