Sunday, December 30, 2007

my cold

Sneeze. Blow my nose. Sneeze some more. Sleep some. Watch TV. Sleep some more. Sneeze. This has been the nature of my day.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Flat Tire

I have no idea why, but the rear driver's side tire on our Pathfinder keeps going flat and we have no idea why. Sometimes it will be fine for days and then all of a sudden it is flat again.

Several months ago, Daniel took it off to find the hole so he could patch it and there is no hole in the tire. We have suspicions that a teenage boy who lives down the street may be deviously letting the air out of the tire at night - it never seems to go flat when we are other places.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nomads for Christmas

We left Charlotte on Saturday and arrived in Nashville around 4 p.m. We were blessed to be able to visit with old friends and spend the night with Mark and Carolina.

Sunday we were up early for church and lunch in Hermitage with Marshall and his daughter, Brooklyn. Hillary was missing because her mother is in the hospital and things are not looking so good - she will be in the hospital for Christmas. I feel sick for my good friend and all that she must be experiencing this Christmas season.

Sunday afternoon was off to Murfreesboro to see Daniel's dad and a brief nap since we were up late visiting the night before. Then on to celebrate Daniel's mom's birthday and then back to spend the night with Daniel's dad and grandma.

Today was full of more visiting - breakfast at Cracker Barrel... lunch with extended family... errands and then to LaVergne for Christmas Eve. When in TN, we always have Christmas Eve at Daniel's grandmother's where we enjoy a meal with family, open presents and then Daniel and I spend the night.

So we will be in our third bed in three days. Visiting is always a treat, but there is a weariness that comes with it as well. I want to wish all of my family and friends who I will not see this year, a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Night Riding

Daniel and I periodically ride our bikes at night (Daniel more so than me). Tonight Daniel wanted to go for a ride and he also wanted to take me our for coffee... solution: we bike the 4 miles to Starbucks.

This seemed like a good idea to me until we were outside and I was freezing from the wind. I almost backed out - Daniel said I could drive there and meet him. But I decided to stick it out. The first 10 minutes were miserable, but we soon found some hills and my body started to warm up with the exercise.

Riding at night is different from the day. Maybe it is because it is December, but I love to ride and see all of the Christmas lights decorating people's homes.

I was actually sweating by the time we reached Starbucks. After drinking my coffee and cooling down a bit, I remembered that we still had to ride home and the beginning of the ride would be cold. It is much harder when you know what to expect. But once we were going, I was fine.

I definitely did not have to worry about calories from Starbucks since I probably burned as much calories from shivering from the cold as I did from sweating from the exercise!

Why don't stamp machines accept credit cards?

I was at a LONG line at the post office today. I think that stamp machines should allow you to use your credit card - in true Cheree fashion I did not have cash on me and I had to wait in the very long line and the only thing I needed to buy was stamps!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Stuff

Today has been a busy day for me - mostly because I procrastinate and have put off doing the "Christmas stuff." So today I have been busy finishing our Christmas letter as well as doing lots of baking.

We live so far away from so many family members that we have found it impossible to see both of our families during the holidays. So for us, every other year is with family or in-laws. It is nice to get to experience different family traditions, but I definitely miss it when we are not with my family.

Mostly little things make me miss my family. For instance today, while baking, I made bon bons (thanks Angela for sending me the recipe). It seems like when we are together, we are all in the kitchen making bon bons and talking and laughing. So today, I was in my own kitchen, by myself, listening to Christmas music and wishing I was baking with my family instead of alone. I guess that is the price I pay for living so far away.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Job Update

Here is the most recent update about job stuff: I am not sure where things are at between Aquent and Enventys. I have been having a difficult time getting information. I continue to pray that it will work out, but at this point, things seem to be at a standstill.

On a brighter note, I had an interview this afternoon with York Technical College in Rock Hill, SC and I am their newest adjunct professor. I will be teaching 3 back-to-back evening classes for the spring semester on Mondays and Wednesdays.

I have to admit that I am a little nervous about teaching, but I know the material well, so I am sure I will do fine.

The courses I will be teaching are: Intro to Graphic Design, Digital Photography and Photoshop CS2.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our Fifth Anniversary


Has it really been five years since we got married? Last night we were reminiscing about the night before our wedding... pre-wedding jitters and excitement and being with friends and family. It is kind of surreal to look back at that time now. Daniel asked me if there was anything that I would change about the past five years and after a moment's thought, I said no. Life has not been perfect, but we have learned so much and grown so much.


When we were first married and so in love, it was hard to imagine that things would ever be better than what they were on December 16, 2002 and yet here we are on December 16, 2007 and things are better than we could have ever imagined. Our love has grown and we have both changed, but for good. Daniel agrees that there isn't anything that he would change either.


We spent the weekend in Hilton Head. Friday was gorgeous and sunny, Saturday was overcast and rainy and today it cleared up again. We really enjoyed our time there. It is the off season and felt more like a ghost town than a resort area. But so long as we have our bicycles, we are happy campers.


We ate at our favorite restaurants, talked with the locals and enjoyed the laziness of being on an island. Friday night we biked to dinner and then rode our bikes 6 miles on the beach back to our resort. It was awesome - we were able to watch the sunset, and then bike beside the waves since the tide was out. The moon and stars were incredible.

The weekend was a wonderful retreat from everyday life. It is so nice to step away from things and not have to worry about anything. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I am still waiting on my job situation. The two companies that I am in limbo with are hopefully going to negotiate and work everything out tomorrow. It is tough not having any control over the situation, but I know that it will all work out for the best and I am prepared for any outcome.  On a happy note, Daniel and I will celebrate our 5th anniversary on December 16 (we actually remembered this year). We are leaving tomorrow for Hilton Head so we can enjoy our anniversary relaxing at the beach. It will be good to get away from all of the stress of the past week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I will praise You in the storm.

This is an email I sent out early this morning. It recaps the past 24 hours and what has happened (actually not happened with the job thing). I just ask that you continue to keep me in your prayers.

This is a difficult email to write, but I need to ask for your prayers again.

Yesterday I was reading in Genesis about how God asked Abraham to sacrifice the thing he loved the most. So he took Isaac to the mountain. When his son asked where the sacrifice was, Abraham said that God will provide...

Yesterday, through no fault of my own, I found out that the hiring company and the placement company could not agree on terms. Devastated, I directly called the Creative Director at at the hiring company to see what was up (at this point I had been told I would not be hired after all with no explanation).

The hiring company told me they really liked me but could not agree to the terms financially. I asked them to give me a chance to talk to the temp agency. I called the temp agency and asked them to do everything in their power to get me hired.

The last I heard at 4:20 yesterday afternoon is that they are in negotiations on money. I have never wanted to work somewhere so badly. It is hard to believe that this was fully within my reach on Friday and now I have no idea where it stands. I also have my hands tied since I have a binding agreement with the temp agency and there is really no way to circumvent it.

I know that God will provide, but I selfishly ask for your prayers in this matter.

The Casting Crowns song,
Praise You In The Storm, has been on my mind this morning. I ask that you pray on my behalf and also join in praising God in this storm with me.

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away


I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bike Commuting

Daniel started commuting to work on his bicycle in April. Since then he biked more than 1000 miles and saved us a lot on gas expenses and general wear and tear on our car.

Now that I will be starting my new job downtown we started discussing the possibility of me bike commuting with him. In an effort to see if I was even up for it, we decided to make the ride this afternoon.

My new company is only 1 mile from Daniel's. So we got on our bikes and made the 10 mile ride past Land Design and on to Enventys. Going in took about an hour and was mostly downhill and a pretty enjoyable ride. Coming home we took a slightly different route and it took just over an hour.

Doing the ride back to back (20+ miles) really wasn't too bad. Some time around mile 15-ish I started to get some numbness in my feet and soreness in my tail. But as for riding one way, I am pretty sure I can handle it and will probably start riding with Daniel. I will probably wait at least a few days to get comfortable at my job and make sure that there is a place to park my bike. I am looking forward to the extra exercise and Daniel thinks we will save about $9/day on gas by not driving 2 separate vehicles. Even when we don't ride our bikes, we can still carpool.

One of our friends told us that we should get a tandem bike to commute on! I think we will hold off on that suggestion, at least for now...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I.D. Magazine, Everyday Edisons & Answered Prayer

I am a passionate person. In the past five years, I have not had a job that I was even remotely passionate about and a part of me never dreamed that it was even possible for me to find that kind of job. Yesterday, a series of events, that I am still reeling over, led me to a job I can be passionate about.

Now for a little background: Several years ago I started reading the magazine
I.D. (International Design). It is a product design magazine that showcases new products from all over the globe. For me it was exciting to read about all of the innovations going on in the world. It also brought together engineering of products with aesthetic design which was exciting for me to share with Daniel.

Sometime last year I was flipping channels on a Sunday afternoon and I came across the show,
Everyday Edisons on PBS. It was a reality TV show of sorts. It brought everyday people together to pitch their inventions - the inventions were then taken through a production phase and then branded. It was very inspiring to me to see these everyday people sharing their ideas and then seeing them become reality.

Ok, fast forward to yesterday... around 10:30 a.m. I received a call from Aquent (a creative staffing agency). They had an immediate opening with a company that was looking for a temp-to-hire person. Immediate being I would start Monday. They gave me more information and I said sure. I received a second call wanting to know if I could make an interview that afternoon. Again I said yes.

At 4:00 p.m. yesterday, I headed downtown to
Enventys for my life to be changed...

Enventys is in a very unassuming building next to the Charlotte Rescue Mission. A brick building at the end of a dead-end street. I knew this must be a good place when I saw the parking spaces were so packed that I had to park illegally at the end of the street.

A bright orange door greeted me. When I walked in it was like walking into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory - except instead of chocolate, they invented things. As I waited for my interview, I could see down a long corridor... there were all sorts of strollers in the hallway. Everyone that walked by was in blue jeans and had a smile.

Ashley came downstairs to give me the grand tour. We walked through the old building with different colored walls, exposed beam ceilings, wood floors and brick walls. I was in love with the architecture. She took me through the engineering spaces where I saw more product innovations and drawings on the walls for new inventions. Then she took me back to the filming room. I was blown away. I had no idea that the show,
Everyday Edisons, that I had stumbled upon, was filmed right here in Charlotte - in this location no less. All of the products from last season were displayed on a shelf. I could barely contain myself.

We walked upstairs through creative. The work areas were open and the computers were big and fast. Everyone was laid back and very friendly. I sat down with the creative director and I felt at home. We discussed the usual and then he told me that he didn't have a decision to make and could I start on Monday!!!

I will be working on producing the magazine,
Inventors Digest as well as design projects that encompass naming and branding newly invented products - it really runs the gamut for anything newly innovated. This is definitely something to be excited about. While Inventors Digest is not I.D., it is pretty exciting for me to be working on something that I am truly interested in.

As for answered prayer - I have to tell you that God works in ways that I cannot fathom. Since August I have been praying that God would lead me to a job that I could not turn down. I prayed that he would give me a job that would inspire me, something I would be passionate about. I prayed that he would shut doors (he did that with Texas). I prayed that he would give me wisdom and guide my steps. I know without a doubt that this is an answer to prayer and it all happened in less than a business day!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas Tree

My sister told me once that Daniel and I need to have more traditions. We actually have some and we are building on them. Tonight we put up our Christmas tree - the one we bought at Big Lots five years ago when we were first married. It isn't much but it gets the job done - some day we will get a real tree.

Decorating the tree always brings back memories - there are ornaments from my childhood, a ton of "newly married" ornaments (since we were married right before Christmas, it seemed like everyone gave us an ornament), and then there are the ornaments we have been collecting from places we have visited over the past five years. We have them from Hawaii, Oregon, Hilton Head, and the Outer Banks. The more places we go, the more we have to decorate our tree with.

Tonight I made homemade hot chocolate - I found a great recipe online, then while listening to Christmas music we set up and decorated our tree. So that is our new tradition.


My sister forwarded me a couple of surveys. I am not a huge fan of forwarding things, so I am going to just post my answers...

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? I think my Dad dated a girl in college who had a cousin named Cheree and he liked the name and so did my mom...

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? I don't generally cry.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? It is not so great. I normally try to print for legibility.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? I like pretty much all lunch meat.



7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I used it a lot more when I was in high school and college.



10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? There are too many to choose from...



14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Whether they seem friendly or not.

15. RED OR PINK? Red

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOU? I can't seem to stop biting my finger nails...

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? my family - they all live 12+ hrs away


19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Blue jeans and brown pumps.



22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? I would be a different color everyday.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Anything that is baking.



26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Would rather play than watch.

27. HAIR COLOR? Brown

28. EYE COLOR? Blue


30. FAVORITE FOOD? Breakfast

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? I prefer suspense (but not gory or stupid)

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? 3:10 to Yuma

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Brown shirt with an off-white sweater







40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I have a track ball so no pad...



43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles, but I really like the Stones too.

44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Time Zone wise, the airport in Narita, Japan (outside of Tokyo)

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I can blow bubbles with my tongue and blow them into the air - my siblings hate this talent!

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Conway, AR but until I was about 10 I thought I was born in Hong Kong because I remembered visiting there as a child and I had no recollection of Conway as I moved to Papua New Guinea when I was 3 months old...



1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? wrapping paper

2. Real tree or artificial? as a kid: real, as a grown up: artificial

3. When do you put up the tree? Normally the day after Thanksgiving, but this year we are putting it up tomorrow night

4. When do you take the tree down? normally after New Years, last year it made it until March-ish...

5. Do you like eggnog? Nah.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My dad made me an easel.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? I think I have a miniature one.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Everyone, I HATE shopping.

9. Easiest person to buy for? See above.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Must not have been that bad since I don't remember.

11. Mail or email Holiday Cards? I love snail mail

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I procrastinate

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yep

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Pecan pie

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear

17. Favorite Christmas song? There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays

18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home? Travel. Travel. Travel.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Uh - Yeah

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Voyles Tradition: 1 on Christmas Eve, the rest on Christmas day. When we are with Daniel's family we open all the presents on Christmas Eve.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Traffic and shopping.

3. What I love most about Christmas? I love Christmas music, but I really have to echo my sister:
"Being with my family, drinking coffee, playing games and laughing (mostly at my brother) and remembering funny times in holidays past."
Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snoring at the movies and other interesting things...

Friday we worked on the house all day and then rewarded ourselves by watching 4 hours of season two of 24.

Saturday we worked on the house during the day and then went to see a movie at the dollar theater. We ended up seeing 3:10 to Yuma - which we enjoyed. However, the interesting thing that happened was we were sitting a couple of seats down from a guy who was alone who fell asleep and was snoring LOUDLY throughout the movie. At the end of the movie, he leaned over and asked Daniel why the movie ended the way it did - maybe if he had stayed awake he would know...

Tonight our life group went to a local nursing home to sing Christmas carols and visit with the residents. One of the women there asked me if Daniel was my husband. Then proceeded to tell me that he was handsome and I had a good catch. This was followed by her wanting to know why we didn't have kids yet...

We are now home working on hanging a grouping of 10 picture frames of various sizes on the wall. This is taking a while as Daniel is having to take measurements of everything, set up a laser level to ensure perfect symmetry and then double check all measurements on the computer with Excel. I am sure that as soon as we complete the project it will be perfect.

Friday, November 30, 2007

New Compound Miter Saw

Daniel is ecstatic. Today the new compound miter saw arrived via UPS. I would say our new saw, but that would be like saying our new china hutch. While technically that is true and both of us will in some way use both of these items, in reality, the hutch is mine and the saw is Daniel's.

Daniel is like a kid who just received a favorite new toy. He could not wait to take it out of its packaging and put it together in order to start "playing" with it. But first things first, we had to spend several hours cleaning and organizing the garage so that we would have a place for the gargantuan saw and stand (the stand is about 6 feet long).

Anyways Daniel is very happy with the new purchase and cannot wait to be able to start using it on house projects! For those who are concerned... this saw is a very safe saw (unlike chain saws and table saws).

Speaking of Breakfast...

Daniel took the day off of work today because 1) he has a dentist appointment at 10:30 this morning and 2) he only works half days on Friday so it didn't seem worth it to get up and drive downtown for only a couple hours of work.

Instead we enjoyed staying up late last night and sleeping in this morning and then he woke me up to see if I wanted to go to my favorite pancake house for breakfast - which I could not turn down.

I am thrilled that we get to enjoy a three-day weekend together and to top it off, we kicked it off with the pancake house this morning! I am full from country ham, eggs over easy, pecan pancakes and my coffee.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Breakfast is my all time favorite meal to eat out. There is something wonderful about sitting down over a country breakfast with someone you love or with close friends. I can never turn down coffee or a country breakfast or pancakes! This is a list of some of my favorite places to eat breakfast.

Searcy, AR: Bobby's

Nothing can beat squeezing into a booth with friends or family. Many talks have been had at Bobby's over a country breakfast of ham, eggs, toast and coffee - all for about $5. I once convinced Daniel to skip class and chapel to go to Bobby's with me!!!

Bobby's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Gatlinburg, TN: Log Cabin Pancake House

First of all, I don't particularly like going to Gburg, but if we are in the vicinity I want to make a stop here. I love their Caribbean Pancakes with coffee.

Log Cabin Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Charlotte, NC: The Original Pancake House in SouthPark
I was a little disappointed to learn this was a chain - we ate at one in Birmingham, AL. Regardless, I love the one in SouthPark - the people know us and I love just about everything here. If you get an omellote, you pretty much need to plan on sharing it. Pancakes come with everything and you can always get the specialty pancakes if you ask. I have never had something I didn't like here.

Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Nashville, TN: The Pancake Pantry

I have only been here once, but if I lived in Nashville, this would definitely become a regular place for me! I tried their pecan pancakes and coffee.

Pancake Pantry on Urbanspoon

Port Colborne, Ontario: Sambo's

Another place that serves good country breakfast (in CANADA). I love when I am visiting my grandparents and we run to Sambo's for breakfast. I suppose I should also put Tim Horton's on the list for when we are in Canada as well - it is a chain, but I have fond memories of special time over Tim Bits and Mocha.

Sambo's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fun Assembling A Hutch

Last night Daniel and I spent over two hours attempting to assemble a hutch we purchased to hold our china.

Unfortunately the directions were wrong and we were almost finished assembling it before we realized the mistake. We had to undo most of our work in order to rotate the two wrong pieces into the right direction. I have no idea how a manual that has written and drawn directions could be wrong. We actually noticed that a couple of things had been whited-out and then rewritten by hand!

Tonight neither of us felt like messing with the project, so it is still not finished. I will post a pic as soon as we finish.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Special Time

Special time is a tradition that started a long time ago in my family. I used to think it originated when I was little and my Nana would always take us out for one-on-one time to talk and get coffee/hot chocolate at Tim Hortons...

This is definitely a part of special time for us, but it also has a variation. Whenever my mom and sister and I are together, for as long as I can remember, we always get into a bed together to talk.

I remember when I was little that my mom would do this with her sisters and she says that she remembers nana doing it with her sisters - so this tradition is probably the longer standing one.

When I still lived at home, these talks in bed were generally done behind closed doors and I am pretty sure my dad and brother felt somewhat left out. Over the years, we have developed an open door policy and ANYONE that wants to come into the room and try and cram on the bed (or stand/sit in the room) is always welcome.

An interesting thing happened this Thanksgiving. Since Angela works nights, she was totally wiped out so I was in my parent's room talking with my mom. Then Mark wandered in, followed by Daniel and Robert. I think this is the first time EVER that the boys have outnumbered the girls. Mostly Mark entertained us with his stories. Mom was in her chair and I was on the bed with the guys!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Things I Am Thankful For:

1) Daniel

2) Family

3) Old friends

4) New friends

5) Nearly 5 wonderful years of marriage

6) Taking the time to slow down

7) Learning how to mountain bike this year

8) Books

9) My front yard full of colorful leaves

10) My house finally being close(r) to being done

11) Starbucks/Caribou Coffee/Dean&Deluca

12) Finding a new restaurant to love

13) Having a mentor

14) Daniel having a good job

15) My freelance clients

16) My Computer/The Internet

17) The ability to learn new things

18) Completed projects

19) Getting to see my family over the holidays

20) People that drive long distances to visit us

21) Home church

22) Good health

23) Friendships that stay intact even though we live far away

24) Being able to take a moment everyday to appreciate the beauty that is all around me - whether it is mountains, the ocean, or just looking up at the clouds in the sky and listening to the birds in my yard.

25) God providing for all of my needs on a daily basis

Monday, November 19, 2007

Being Thankful

Last night at our life group we took the opportunity for everyone to share two things: 1) What is something you are thankful for this year and 2) What is something you are committed to doing in the future.

Thankfulness answers included being thankful for good marriages, family, children, healthy babies (we had a premi born into our group this year), relationships - old and new, jobs, health, life, thankfulness that God is not done with us yet (regardless of age), one person related how their family had gone through Hurricane Katrina and were going to be able to move back to their house soon (out of a FEMA trailer).

Commitment answers included committing to slow down and enjoy life, committing to choose to be content no matter what your circumstance, committing to be good husband's and wives and parents, committing to continue to develop relationships, etc.

It was a great time to be able to connect with each other and share in a more intimate way. The funniest moment came when Daniel said that he didn't know we were going to have to share commitments so he didn't have an answer for that one. Someone said that he should commit to staying out of the ER - this brought a good laugh and a moment of comic relief to what had been a fairly serious evening.

We are blessed in so many ways. I hope you take a moment to think about the things you are thankful for and things you will commit to for the coming year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend Update

We have managed to accomplish quite a bit this weekend. I am happy to report that door casings for our coat closet and pantry have FINALLY been installed and doors hung. We also managed to install all of the baseboard in the great room/dining area - this is a major accomplishment and it looks fantastic. It is truly beginning to feel like a home instead of this insane, never-ending renovation project.

We also went out and purchased a china cabinet for me with my birthday money. I am really excited to finally be able to put away my china (which has been stored in 2 rubbermaid containers for the past 5 years).

I am really looking forward to seeing family for Thanksgiving - we will be headed to Searcy on Tuesday and I can't wait to see my family!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

High Cholesterol

I went to the doctor on the Friday before my birthday and found out I had high cholesterol. They told me to come back the next week after I had fasted and they would check one more time to be sure.

It turns out that my cholesterol is really high. The most frustrating part is that they told me to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly - I cook almost all of our meals from scratch (from healthy foods that are low in cholesterol) and exercise almost every day! So I am not sure how I am going to combat this.

I believe it is genetic, so if you are in my family and don't know about your cholesterol, you might want to get it checked out, just to be sure.

I suppose Daniel and I are going to have to crack down, even more, on what types of food we eat. I just pray that I will be able to get the levels down. Normal is less than 200 and high is anything above 240. After fasting, mine is 243...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hair Cutting Woes

A few years ago, we were in Searcy for Thanksgiving and I went to get my haircut. It turned out to be the worst haircut of my life! I rarely cry, especially not over piddly things, and I ended up crying over this haircut - it was so bad it was practically a mullet.

Anyways, I have had a really hard time getting my hair cut ever since. I think it freaks Daniel out that I have such a hard time. Also, I generally try to get Angela to go with me when possible for moral support.

After today I think that I am finally over my hair cutting woes. There is a girl in my life group who cuts hair from her home. So last Sunday, I bravely asked her if I could schedule an appointment. She cuts a lot of different people's hair that I know and that gave me confidence in her.

Anyways I went this afternoon and it turned out to be a really great experience. We visited the whole time and I left we a really cute, short haircut. Best of all there was no crying involved... I will definitely go back to her and hopefully I am over being afraid of having my hair cut.

This blog is the story of a couple who got married, quit their jobs, and bicycled around the world.

Someday Daniel and I would like to do something similar but maybe not on this scale. It is very intriguing to see their pictures and read their daily progress.

About one year ago they started their journey with time spent in the USA, New Zealand, SouthEast Asia and now in Europe. They will be coming back to the USA in a couple of weeks. We have found their story to be interesting and inspiring...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Daniel was given free tickets to the Carolina Panthers vs. The Atlanta Falcons game for Sunday. This was our first time to get to go to the Bank of America stadium. Unfortunately the Panthers lost 20 to 13, but at least we were able to enjoy the experience.

The game was okay, we left at the beginning of the 4th quarter when it was tied 13 to 13. Even though it was tied, it was a boring game so we didn't feel too bad about leaving early.

Highlights of the game:

  • The crowd got the wave going through the entire stadium in both the upper and lower sections - this was much more impressive than seeing the wave done at a basketball or hockey game which is in a much smaller venue.
  • The Atlanta Falcons kicker was 47 years old and he scored a field goal!
  • The view from inside the stadium was impressive - from where we were sitting you could see the skyline of Charlotte.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

PowerPoint 2007 Complete Makeover Kit

This is exciting: A project that I was a part of working on has been referenced in the newly released book, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 Complete Makeover Kit by Geetesh Bajaj. As some of you may remember, I collaborated on the PowerPoint presentation, Meet Henry, that placed 2nd in the World's Best Presentation Contest by Slideshare. Click here to read an excerpt from the book regarding the Meet Henry presentation.

Grundy Lake

The other day I was thinking about family vacations from when I was a kid. We didn't have a whole lot when I was growing up, but my parents always made sure that we all went to Canada in the summers to visit our extended family. Looking back, I am so thankful that my parents made the effort for us to spend that time together as a family.

I don't really remember that much about the 18 hour car rides from Arkansas to Canada... I know they were probably awful for everyone - cramped up in a car, no entertainment to soothe us... just ourselves, the radio and books.

I know we must have fought like cats and dogs, but that is not what stands out in my mind. I remember mom reading to us, specifically "The Princess Bride." I do remember watching for license plates and getting close to all 50 states and many of the provinces. I remember playing the alphabet game. I remember getting to sit in the front with Dad to help keep him awake - we would talk and sing and I would read the map and help tell him where to go.

My most memorable family trip was when I must have been about 12. We had just moved to Arkansas and my Great Grandma Hotchkiss died. So we drove up to Sault Ste Marie for the funeral. I remember meeting a lot of people. This may have been my first funeral. Oddly enough I think that all of the pallbearers were women!

Anyways, the funeral, though interesting, was not the highlight of the trip. What I loved so much about this trip was that my parents decided we should visit all 5 great lakes. So as we made our way from Sault Ste Marie to Port Colborne that is exactly what we did.

We put out toes into Lake Superior (it was way too cold to actually swim in, even in the summer). We traveled on through Algonquin Provincial Park where we camped at Grundy Lake.

Grundy Lake has a special story - there were tons of mosquitoes here, so many that you couldn't breathe without swallowing them! My mom took us kids down to the lake to swim while my dad set up the tent. We could barely swim, we would take a big breath of air, hope no mosquitoes were in our mouths and then hold our breath underwater so we would not get eaten by the blood thirsty mosquitoes.

My poor dad was the hero of the story - he set up the tent for us. I remember coming back from swimming and he had a rain jacket on and a towel thrown over his head to protect him from the swarms.

We had to sit in the car to eat sandwiches and then we ran to the tent and zipped it shut. We must have spent 30 minutes killing all of the mosquitoes and then we just layed there for a long time waiting for sleep and listening to the mosquitoes buzz and repeatedly hit the exterior of our tent in an effort to get inside. Grundy Lake is a funny story now, but at the time it was pretty awful!

We went on to swim in Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron and Lake Erie, but I will always remember Grundy Lake and all of its mosquitoes!

Interestingly enough, visiting Algonquin Provincial Park may have jump started my interest in the outdoors. I remember stopping at a visitor center and reading information about backpacking and canoeing. I have always thought about going back to do those things. Maybe someday Daniel and I will take our family there - we will just be sure to avoid mosquito season!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

For Women Only

For my birthday, a good friend gave me the book For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn. What an amazing book about relationships with great incite into men. I liked it so much that I went out and bought For Men Only to read and to give to Daniel.

I don't normally sit down and read books about relationships or about the differences in men and women, but if you want some solid information about how the opposite sex thinks and ideas on how you can improve your relationship and understand your partner better, I would definitely recommend both of these books.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I was in the process of doing laundry and getting some things done around the house and it hit me. I keep trying to figure out what kind of job would best suit me, which has been a real challenge for me. Then it dawned on me: I have never really thought in terms of: I would like to be a doctor or an architect or a pilot; my thinking is and always has been broader than this.

Several weeks ago at home church, Sally asked me what my dream job would be. I had a hard time telling her. I rattled off something about wanting to be a mountain guide. She gave me an odd look so I said, “Oh, you mean something
realistic, I guess a freelance graphic designer that actually made money…” What a lame statement. I am 27, so you would think I would have some kind of direction as to what I want to be doing!

But the thing is, I do know. I just think differently. I have always wanted to own a coffee shop or run an outfitter service in conjunction with an outdoors store or own a bed & breakfast in the mountains. There are other odd things I would love to do (long lists of ideas I have had for different kinds of shops), most people would think I am crazy, but that is how I am wired to think. I want to own the shop, not just show up to work for someone else every day…

It has been rather confusing for me because I thought I would reach this goal of “owning my own business” when I started freelancing, but it is not the same. I want a tangible place that I go to. Where clients or customers choose to come to see me. Freelancing from home does not offer this nor is graphic design the thing that really gets me excited…

My epiphany is this: what I really would love, is to own a shop that offers a variety of things including specialty coffee and baked goods that I create, books, graphic design services, interior design services as well as selling local items of artists or crafters… Now is that too much to ask for?

At any rate I have a better answer the next time someone asks me what I really want to be/or do with my life. For my birthday my mentor, LaCinda, gave me a mug that says,
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Well, my answer is in the sentences above. I may never long to be an accountant or a Charlotte banker, I am just not wired that way.
Now if only I could figure out how to realize this dream occupation...

Monday, November 05, 2007

27 Random Things You Might Not Know About Me...

1) I have lived in 3 countries.

2) I met my husband in a cave.

3) I LOVE coffee houses.

4) I rarely cook the same recipe twice... Daniel sometimes has to beg me to cook "normal" things like spaghetti.

5) I am the oldest of 3 kids.

6) When I was 13 I decided that I wanted to climb to the top of the highest mountains in all 50 states, so far I have done CO, AR, TN, NC & VA.

7) The furthest I have driven was from Cookeville, Tennessee to Durango, Mexico for a wedding... think 3 days of driving in a car (one way).

8) I try not to visit the same places more than twice - there are too many places to see in the world.

9) I am an idealist.

10) I like lilies.

11) Fall is my favorite season.

12) Spring is a close second.

13) I spent my first wedding anniversary with Daniel and a group of
Eagle Scouts in a shelter on the Appalachian Trail.

14) I was hit by a car when I was 10.

15) I have never broken a bone or had to have stitches.

16) I have a B.S. in Fine Art.

17) I love to read.

18) When I was in college I considered joining the Peace Corps or becoming a flight attendant.

19) I never want to stop learning.

20) I prefer a hole-in-the-wall local restaurant to a chain.

21) I love technology.

22) I love nature.

23) I hate to get my hair cut.

24) I collect Christmas ornaments from every place we visit.

25) I have a fantastic family.

26) I have a wonderful husband.

27) I am blessed.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My Surprise Birthday Weekend In Asheville, NC

Daniel and I are home after a very relaxing birthday weekend. Friday morning Daniel left flowers for me on the counter - lilies, my favorite. 

His only clues as to where we were headed for the weekend were as follows: 1) I could expect the weather to be in the 60's F during the day and 30's at night; 2) We would not be sleeping in sleeping bags, and 3) We would be driving between 5 and 200 miles to our destination...
I had a pretty good idea that we would be going to the mountains and that Asheville was a good possibility. We stayed at this fantastic cottage called The Rosewood outside of Asheville. We had actually tried to book this place earlier this summer, but found out that you generally need to book 3 months ahead of time. When we could not get reservations in June, Daniel went ahead and booked the cottage for the weekend of my birthday.

Friday night we ate dinner at a local Italian pizzeria called Iannucci's - their breadsticks were fantastic. After dinner, we enjoyed an evening by the fireplace, watching satellite TV as well as some time spent hanging out in the hot tub on the deck.

Saturday we were lazy and enjoyed sleeping in late. We watched TV until noon (a luxury for us) and then took a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We made our way to the Craggy Gardens where we did a couple of day hikes. The views were amazing and the trees still had a hint of autumn to them.

We made our way back to Asheville, grabbed a quick snack and then wandered around downtown Asheville on foot. We had plans to see Stardust at the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. When we arrived an hour early to buy tickets, we were disappointed to find out that in order to get movie tickets, you have to arrive 2 hours before the show on weekends. So we will have to give that a try another time. Instead we went to a bookstore and then to Chilli's to celebrate my birthday - mostly for their Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie. Which was fantastic. We ate way too much, but it all tasted great! Afterwards we went back to the cottage to watch TV and let our stomach's settle some.
Sunday, we slept in again and took our time leaving. We drove some more on the Blue Ridge Parkway before making our way to Gaffney, SC to check out the outlet mall.
We made it back to Charlotte in time for home church - where I was treated to a surprise birthday party, thanks to my mentor, LaCinda. The weekend was really great and a good chance to relax and get away for the weekend. Daniel did a great job of finding a very nice place for us to stay - I would definitely recommend this cottage to anyone looking for a good getaway in Asheville!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Lessons from Junior Prom

This is my story of what I learned from my Junior Prom. Actually it is about my experience of convincing my parents that I should be allowed to go to this special dance.

My story actually goes back further than Junior Prom. Growing up, I was not allowed to attend dances. When I was in the 5th grade, my friends were pressuring me to go to a school dance, so I asked my mom and she said I could go (notice that I did not ask my dad). Anyways, I walked with my friends to the school and while we were still in the parking log, my dad showed up to take me home.

Move forward about 5 years to my Junior Prom. I was 16 and really wanted to go. I wanted the experience of this special night. I wanted to share in the event with my friends and I wanted my parents to trust me enough to go to this dance.

I sat down and did some serious thinking. I actually wrote out every possible scenario of what might "go wrong" in the mind of my parents and I wrote out arguments for all of those scenarios. I practiced what I would say for three days. And then I gingerly approached my mom with my argument.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table with her and having a solid answer for every one of her concerns. To be honest, I think she was shocked that I had thought everything out so thoroughly. After our talk, she told me that I had convinced her, but that I was going to have to talk to my dad as well.

I was secretly hoping that by presenting my case to her she would present my case to my dad and I would be home free. This was not the case. So I worked up my courage, and asked my dad to come talk with me and my mom.

I was so nervous, especially thinking about my experience from 5th grade. I have never been so shocked as when I asked my dad if I could go to my Junior Prom and without much thought he said, "Yes." I almost fell out of my chair! I had earned my parent's trust and I was allowed to attend my prom.

From this experience I learned several lessons:
  1. If you really want something, don't be afraid to go after it.
  2. Always be prepared.
  3. Find allies.
  4. Earn trust from people and then make sure to work hard to keep that trust.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pet Peeve

It drives me crazy when people drive the WRONG DIRECTION in parking lots when parking spaces are obviously oriented in ONE DIRECTION!!!


I have come to a place where I am looking for a full-time job and doing so because that is what I am supposed to be doing. I am a graphic designer because my culture ordains that I fit a certain mold. Graphic design is what I do, but not who I am. I have forgotten this.

The other day, while reading John Eldridge’s book, The Ransomed Heart, I came to page 145 and the excerpt entitled On Mozart and Martha Stewart. What an eye opener this passage is to me.
This is precisely what happens when God shares with mankind his own artistic capacity and then sets us down in a paradise of unlimited potential. It is an act of creative invitation, like providing Monet with a studio for the summer, stocked full of brushes and oils and empty canvases. Or like setting Martha Stewart loose in a gourmet kitchen on a snowy winter weekend, just before the holidays. You needn’t provide instructions or motivation; all you have to do is release them to be who they are, and remarkable things will result. As the poet Hopkins wrote, “What I do is for me: for that I came.”

Oh, how we long for this – for a great endeavor that draws upon our every faculty, a great “life’s work” that we could throw ourselves into. “God has created us and our gifts for a place of his choosing and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there” (Guinness). Our creative nature is essential to who we are as human beings – image bearers – and it brings us great joy to live it out with freedom and skill.
I long to dream again and to be given over to my true life’s work or to have the opportunity to just do and be what I truly am. I used to dream of traveling the world. I used to dream about leading people on trips to connect them with the outdoors and with adventure. I have forgotten these dreams and others. They have been stored in boxes and tucked away in the attic of my heart.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I still have not heard back from Texas. Waiting has definitely been hard, but I know that God has a plan so I will continue to wait for the right door(s) to open. "I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).

Freelancing has picked back up which is good - my clients are mostly small business owners, so there can be some fickleness as to when they need things. Generally when projects come, they come all at once. I am just thankful for the work.

I have a couple of meetings this week and then I will be back to waiting...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Relaxing Weekend

It is finally starting to feel like fall! Daniel and I took advantage of some down time while his hand is healing. Friday we grabbed dinner and then ended up at our favorite bookstore at the mall. While there, Daniel read an article that said "The difference between a laceration and amputation is the height the table saw blade is adjusted to." Boy are we both incredibly thankful that the height of the blade was no higher and that he only had a laceration!

Saturday we slept in late and then drove up to Lake Norman where we drove through a subdivision he designed the roads for. The road was finished and they are starting work on the lots - that was neat to see, especially for Daniel to see his work in real life.

Afterwards we drove on the Lake Norman State Park where we did a 4 mile hike. We were curious to see the water levels of the lake since we have been in a drought for several months. The water was definitely down - about 6 feet. At one place we came to what would have been an island, but the water was so low that we could actually walk across the sand bar out to the "island."

Saturday night Daniel had to do some work at the office, so after we ate pizza together I was on my own for the evening.

Sunday, we slept in again. All of this sleeping late has been a real treat. We went to late service and then spent a lazy afternoon watching a movie and not doing a whole lot. It was nice to have the opportunity to do nothing but relax.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trip To The ER Part II

Daniel's bandaged thumb.
We had our second trip to the ER today when Daniel cut his right thumb on a saw blade.

I was out running some errands and received a call from Daniel at 2:45 saying I need to get home as fast as I could. 15 minutes later, the house was locked up and we were on our way to the ER.

The ER was pretty busy - we had to wait almost an hour before we were actually called in. We spent a total of 4 hours at the hospital - a lovely October day wasted waiting on people to see us.

Daniel is doing fine - he had three stitches put in his right thumb. He is worried about how to do the following things with his left hand:

1) Shave

2) Take care of business
3) Brush his teeth
4) Use a keyboard and mouse
5) Write

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Locked in the Bathroom...

Today I changed out the old door handles for all of our doors and while I was in the bathroom, I shut the door (dumb idea). The problem with this was that I had already inserted the latch part of the door, but not the handle. Thankfully I was able to use a screw driver to jimmy open the lock...

On a bright note, all of the baseboard and shoe molding in the guest bedroom is installed and the door casing around our coat closet is in as well... this means that we can start installing baseboard in the living, dining and kitchen areas soon!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ron Mueck

Last weekend I had the opportunity to view the Ron Mueck exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Ft. Worth, Texas. First of all, the museum itself was a beautiful space. The architecture brought light, water and concrete together in a really amazing way.

The Ron Mueck exhibit was fantastic. His over-sized and under-sized sculptures looked incredibly lifelike (except for their sizes). Looking at the sculpture "In Bed" I had the odd sensation of what Jack must have felt like, walking among giants, in the story
Jack and the Beanstalk.

Another sculpture, "Two Women," made me feel as though I were the giant, walking in the land of the small. The attention to detail made me feel as though I could almost hear these two old women, standing around, gossiping at the grocery store.

All of the sculptures made you feel like they would get up at any moment and interact with you. Like in the movie,
Night in the Museum, where everything comes to life at night. Any moment... they will wake up, bewildered that you are in their space...

The skin, the hair, the wrinkles, it all seemed so real. If you have the chance to see Ron Mueck's work, I would highly recommend it.

Click here to view sculptures from the exhibit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A note for my sister...

Angela, here is my daily note, since you are having withdrawals!!!

This morning I got up and was hurrying to get ready for my morning workout. Daniel had not left yet and he took one look at me and said, "Is the tag on your shorts supposed to be on the outside?"

Evidently I had my workout shorts on inside out and was about ready to run out the door like that!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rough Air

I have never heard this phrase before, but on all of the flights I was one, the flight attendants kept saying to keep you seat belt fastened in case of "rough air." What happened to using the word "turbulence?"

My travels yesterday were mostly uneventful. I was somewhat annoyed to find that the Dallas/Ft Worth and the Atlanta airport do not have free Wi-Fi...

Anyways things were great until we landed in Atlanta. By the time we pulled in to the terminal, I only had 40 minutes to get to my connecting flight. This would have been fine had the connecting flight been in the same concourse!

But that was not the case. I flew into Concourse B and my connecting flight was in Concourse E. This meant a really long (fast) walk to the train (which I almost missed) to ride to the very last concourse. By the time I arrived at my gate, sweating and out of breath from almost running, they were calling for the final boarding of all passengers! Talk about a close call.

I was concerned about my luggage making it since I barely made it, but it did. Me and my luggage arrived in Charlotte late last night to a very happy Daniel.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Last night Taryn and Troy treated me to the Reata restaurant in downtown Ft Worth. The best thing about this restaurant is that it has rooftop dining. We had a fabulous late dinner overlooking Ft Worth. If you are ever in Ft Worth, I would definitely recommend this restaurant - make sure you eat on the rooftop!

We began the meal with calamari, followed by some delicious dishes and finally some incredible desserts. I was beyond stuffed by the time we left.

While we were eating, it began raining. Thank goodness we were under a metal roof and were not really affected by the rain even though we were outside.

We made it home before the big thunderstorms started. It stormed all night long - lots of lightning, thunder and big winds. It kept me awake most of the night. The storms died down sometime after 2 a.m. and then another wave came through about 7 a.m. There is the possibility of more storms this afternoon - I hope that my flight home does not get delayed...

Reata on Urbanspoon 

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spin Class & Sight Seeing

This morning I slept in and then Taryn and I decided to make it to the 10 a.m. spin class. It was a great idea, but I didn't know that I would need a picture ID to get into the club with the guest pass and I left my wallet at the house... so we ended having to go home without spinning :(

Instead we came home, showered and then headed out to Chipotle Grill for some tex mex. Afterwards we drove around to look at various neighborhoods so that I could get a feel of the Ft Worth/Arlington areas (just in case)...

We then made a stop at a local coffee house followed by a stop at the
Modern Museum of Art to view the Ron Mueck exhibit which was pretty amazing. On the way home, Taryn took me by the Stock Yards - evidently they drive cattle through the streets of this historic area twice a day - that would be a cool sight to see.

So today we had a pretty full day of sight seeing. We are going to try to catch a spin class tomorrow (now I know to bring my ID). Two days until I see Daniel...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Missing Daniel

I am having a good time in Texas, but definitely missing Daniel.

Somehow I made it here without some key things: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant... I guess that is what happens when you have less than 24 hours to get ready to go somewhere.

Taryn and Troy have been great. They have showed me around some, we went to downtown Ft Worth last night and ate at PF Changs. Then today we had lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall place called Lily's that was pretty good. I had waffle fries with gorgonzola cheese on them that were incredible! After lunch Troy took me by a cool local art store called The Artful Hand. Then tonight we had a home cooked meal that was delicious - thanks to Taryn and Troy :)

Tomorrow at 3 is my interview... I am excited but it is all really in God's hands, so I will just have to wait and see how things go.

The hardest part about everything is that Daniel is home and I am here. I feel bad for him because he has a pretty bad cold and there is nothing I can do for him... only 4 more days until I see him again...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I have been on the job hunt for a few months now. Charlotte has proved to be an extremely difficult market for freelancing and for graphic design jobs in general. If you want to live in Charlotte, you pretty much need to plan on being a banker or involved in real estate (this works for Daniel because his job is land development which leads to real estate).

Anyways, I digress... A while back a friend from Ft Worth contacted me about a possible position with her company. I figured, "what the heck" and I sent in my resume/application. And then I waited. About a week and a half ago I finally had a phone interview and then I waited some more. Last night I got the call that about a face-to-face interview for Friday, so I booked tickets to Dallas.

Today, at noon, I will be flying to Dallas to stay with our good friends, Taryn and Troy, for the weekend. I am not sure what God has in store for me or if this will even pan out. I just continue to pray for God's direction as I continue with the job process.

On a side note I am thrilled with as I was able to get last minute tickets, round trip, out of Charlotte for just over $300 (Charlotte is not noted for being a cheap place to fly out of)...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Our Walk In The Woods

Daniel and I waited until the last minute to pack our gear Friday night - we are such procrastinators. We knew we would have to be up to leave by 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning and that we really needed to be in bed early, but we found ourselves packing until midnight... so much for good intentions.

5:30 a.m. came way too soon. My hot shower did little to wake up my senses, but for some reason I volunteered to drive the first leg to the Smoky Mountains. I was hoping to make a quick stop at Starbucks on our way out, but of course we were running behind and Starbuck's wasn't open yet.
It is strange to be awake and driving so early. There was no one on the road. The humidity was awful and I couldn't get the inside of the windshield defrosted properly. Finally the combination of windshield wipers and freezing cold air blasting seemed to help. I felt bad for Daniel, he was curled up under a blanket, freezing, while trying to sleep.


I drove for what seemed to be forever. When the sky is dark, there is not much to focus on except the road. As the sun begin to peak through the clouds, fog became a problem. I finally had to stop for gas and to give myself a break. We swapped drivers so that I could get an hour of sleep before we met our friends.

I woke up to a blinding light - that is what it seemed like anyways. The fog was really heavy in the mountains, so heavy that you almost couldn't see and the sun was blasting through the fog so that everything was an intense white and blinding around us.


We made it to Gatlinburg and managed to get to our favorite Pancake House, while avoiding the strip. I hate the strip in Gatlinburg... it is the same as the one in Niagra Falls or Myrtle Beach. Daniel and I try to avoid these places where the throngs of people are so intense... if there is a Rippley's Believe or Not Museum, chances are it is not a place we want to visit for a prolonged period of time.


Anyways, we met Gwynn and Chuck for breakfast. I love the opportunity to catch up with friends over pancakes and coffee - this is one of my personal joys in life.


Soon we were headed on to Cosby, TN and our trailhead, the Gabes Mountain Trail. There is a loop here that includes Maddron Bald, but you need 2 nights to complete it and we only had one. We opted for an out-and-back trip which would have a total mileage of 10 miles.

Gabes Mountain trail does not offer spectacular views, but it was a nice walk in the woods. I was amazed at how green everything was, even though like North Carolina, Tennessee has not been blessed with much rain this summer. The mosses on the rocks were vibrant green and oh-so-soft.

The walk to camp was 4.8 miles with an extra 0.2 mile detour to a waterfall. The waterfall was a good place to break for a late lunch of tuna and crackers, but due to the lack of rainfall, was little more than a trickle. At the waterfall, we met some "frat boys" or as Daniel called them, "The AA Members of Tomorrow" (they were each carrying at least one 6-pack with them). They were headed on to campsite 34 that we would also be calling home for the night.


When we walked into camp, there were so many people - lots of the "frat boys" setting up tents and chopping up firewood. Big, burly guys that loved to make their presence known. They also had a radio playing a ball game. The whole sight made me cringe... I walk into the woods for peace and quite, not for the chaos of other people.


Thankfully Daniel and Chuck found some sites further down that were away from the chaotic scene before us. The site was nice and quiet and secluded from the rest. There was one other couple at a neighboring site and later in the evening a lone guy would sleep in a spot above us. I was happy that we would have the peace that I crave when in the woods.

Daniel and Chuck set up the tent while Gwynn and I gathered firewood. I would put sticks in piles and Gwynn would carry the piles up to camp. When I finally came back with a pile, Daniel wanted to know why Gwynn was bringing so much wood to camp and I only came back with a few sticks! I had to explain that I had been making the piles that she brought into camp.


Soon we were cooking our dinners and then making fire for the evening. We were under some really big trees, but above the trees you could see huge clusters of stars in the sky above. We enjoyed our campfire until 9:30-ish before finally bedding down. It was cool out, but warm enough to leave the fly partly off. I love to be laying on my back looking up at the stars.

I am always amazed at night noises. The symphony of bugs lasted well into the night. There were a few rustlings of something, probably small, poking around our campsite. Our food was hung in the trees so bears could not get at them. The night noises paused briefly for a few hours, before the early morning birds took up the chorus again before sunrise.
When sleeping outside there is an alertness that is always with you - especially when sleeping in bear territory. The adrenaline is always there, ready, just in case you need to use your instincts to fight or flight. It is a strange feeling, but it makes you feel alive in ways that you don't experience at home in a bed.

Morning brought more nice weather. We boiled water for chocolate coffee and soon were frying spam... what backpacking trip would be complete without fried spam? We were soon breaking up camp and Daniel and I headed up to the "frat house" to pump water from the creek.

I felt bad to learn that a father and daughter had had to camp beside all of the frat boys. The daughter could not have been older than 12 - if we had known, we would have invited them down to the lower section that was quieter.

Everyone was breaking up camp and we were all soon on our way, back down the trail. We took our time, stopping occasionally for pictures and just enjoying each others company. Hiking in the morning was nice - it was not so hot and the temperature was bearable... 80+ degrees in October is a little much (especially when our sleeping bags are rated for zero degrees).

Back in the parking lot, we encountered a couple whose car battery was dead. Daniel and Chuck helped to push the car into a place where it could be jump started. Ever since Daniel and I were stranded with a dead car in the middle of Pisgah Forest and we had to hitch hike out (with most people ignoring or refusing to help us), Daniel feels a calling to help others in need (I share this feeling and I am thankful that we can help out when possible).

Overall, it was a great trip. Hot showers and hot food always taste and feel best when you first come off of the trail. Sharing our backpacking experiences with others is always special and I am truly looking forward to our next walk in the woods.


Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...