Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gatlinburg Recommendations

If you plan on visiting Gatlinburg in the near future, I thought I would toss out a couple of recommendations based on Daniel's birthday weekend.

First of all, we got a smoking deal on a cabin through www.vrbo.com. We have been using Vacation Rental By Owner {VRBO} for the last 5+ years and always manage to find excellent places to stay. This year we discovered that you can get some good deals by waiting until the last minute and then requesting a discount. Another reason we like VRBO is that you can search for pet friendly places to stay.

This past weekend we stayed at the Apple Tree House in the Arts and Crafts area of Gatlinburg. It was $75/night plus a cleaning fee which brought our total to $206 for two nights. This is a one bedroom cabin that sleeps six {there is a king size bed, a futon and a pull out couch}. This cabin also boasts a game room, kitchen, hot tub and two full bathrooms {more than we needed}. It is a kid and pet friendly cabin. We would definitely recommend it. Our only negatives are no wifi {you can plug your lap top into the wall}, the TVs are small and no washer/dryer. But for the price, we give this cabin a thumbs up.

I already wrote about Bluff Mountain Adventures, but if you are looking to ride four wheelers, this is a great deal. Good price and a fun, guided ride. Definite thumbs up.

As for restaurants...

Friday we ate at the River's End Restaurant in the Nantahala River Gorge at NOC. It is a favorite for the views. We are fans of the food and stop whenever we get a chance.
River's End Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday we ate breakfast at the Log Cabin Pancake House. Daniel has been coming here his entire life and we have been coming together for the last 10 years. It is one of our favorite breakfast spots.
Log Cabin Pancake House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday night, we tried Big Daddy's Pizzeria in Pigeon Forge. They are a brick oven pizzeria with fresh-made artisan doughs. This was the first time we had eaten here and we give it a thumbs up.
Big Daddy's Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

If you are in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, we would recommend all of these places.

Project 52 Date Nights: Four Wheelers

A few weeks ago, I asked Daniel what he wanted to do for his birthday {we generally skip on presents and like to make memories instead}. The first thing Daniel said he wanted to do was to go ride ATVs in the mountains. He had been looking for a place to rent decent sized four wheelers and the only place he had found was in Knoxville. It was expensive and we would actually have to haul the ATVs to whatever trail we wanted to ride on. Considering the cost, Daniel was almost ready to just buy a used ATV off of Craigslist.

So I did a little research and came across Bluff Mountain Adventures in Pigeon Forge. They offered a variety of guided rides for a good price AND the vehicles were 4x4 Yamaha Kodiak 450s {more than big enough to make Daniel happy}. In addition, they were really cheap. Our options were to do the Mountain Trail Adventure Ride {easy with lots of scenery} for $60 or the Ridge Run Ride {some good views, lots of technical maneuvering} for $70. Daniel wanted to do the technical ride.

The thought of riding four wheelers in the mountains sounded like a lot of fun {much better than his alternate desire to go skeet shooting for his birthday} and even though I had only ridden four wheelers once before, I figured I could handle the technical ride.

Even though I had very little experience on a four-wheeler, I have ridden jet skis, motorcycles and mountain bikes. All of these experiences came in handy and we both had a blast riding up and down steep hills {on difficult terrain}, around tight turns and through big puddles. It was AWESOME! We would totally go back.

After our ride, our guide told us that we would have a lot of fun on the custom ride {$90 for an even more challenging course}. Another cool thing about this place is that you can keep you tickets {for life} and get a 15% discount on your next visit.

We would HIGHLY recommend this outfitter.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Recipe for a Happy Birthday

1. Rent a cabin in the woods.

 2. Fulfill a lifelong dream.

3. Eat at good restaurants {those you love and some new ones for good measure}.

4. Take a hike.

5. Or two.

6. Meet friends for dinner followed by coffee and dessert. 
Dinner was at Tony's Pasta Shop & Trattoria – our only complaint is that we wished we had ate outside. The food was excellent. Afterwards we went to Rembrandt's Coffee House for coffee and dessert – definitely our favorite coffee house in Chattanooga.
Tony's Pasta Shop & Trattoria on Urbanspoon
Rembrandt's Coffee House on Urbanspoon
Happy 30th Birthday Daniel! I am so thankful that I am a part of your life.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The House Hunting Continues...

Last night, Daniel made my day. He called me on the way home from work and asked if I would be opposed to eating out. Are you kidding me??? After being cooped up all day, I am always ready to go out.

We decided to go try Mr. T's Pizza and Ice Cream in St. Elmo. It had good online reviews and it did not disappoint. The only negative was that it didn't offer outdoor seating, but we sat by the window and watched the coming and goings of everyone on the street.

Mr T's Pizza St Elmo on Urbanspoon

Food was good. Price was cheap. We give it a thumbs up.

Mr. T's Pizza and Ice Cream. A medium pizza and drinks was less than $10.

Before we left our camper, we wrote down addresses to 9 houses so that we could do a drive by to see if we liked their locations. One was in NorthShore – this is a transitional area that looks to be a fave with the hipster crowd. Like all transitional areas, you can be one street off the main area and feel like you are in the ghetto. The house we looked at felt like it was in the ghetto.

The only redeeming thing about this house was a huge detached garage in the back. 
Unfortunately for Daniel, I don't think I would be comfortable living at this location.
Even on a short term basis.

The next five houses were all pretty close together in the Orchard Knob area {close to the university}. These were bigger houses and 4 of the 5 felt like we could live in them. Negatives were lack of yards {in most} and no garage. Being so close to UTC, it would probably be easy to rent out one of these houses to students later on, but the houses also cost a bit more...

This house was super cute and had a fenced back yard. But no garage.

Finally we went to Missionary Ridge where we checked out three houses {and saw two others while driving around}. One of the houses we liked a lot and we plan to go look at the inside soon. It is priced well and probably needs some updating {which we can do}. And it has a decent yard and a two-car garage.

Great location with a decent yard and a detached two-car garage. 
It probably needs some updating, but we can see ourselves living here. 
This one made it to our must-see list.

In addition to all of this, Daniel found a posting on Craigslist for a house in St. Elmo for dirt cheap. It has views of Lookout Mountain. If we bought a house like this, it would be to completely gut the insides and build a basically new house. It is so cheap that we could probably cash flow the entire project and make some money down the road. The negative is that it would be a very big commitment. But at least we have acquired the necessary skills from our last home remodel.

This house would be a complete overhaul - down to the studs. 
Not sure if we are up for it, but could probably make some money 
if we want to devote more of our lives to renovation...

We have a lot to think about.

We have lists of houses to drive by in several other areas of town including Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Valley and a few in Alabama.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Decision Making is Hard

It feels like fall is starting to make her appearance. The temps have dropped off over the last couple of days and we have been able to sleep with the windows open. I was actually cold last night.

The moon was brilliant last night, almost like the sun. We went outside and talked under the light of the full moon. We are seriously unsure about what kind of decision to make regarding where to live. Deciding to buy our first home was such an easy decision. This time around is a lot harder. 

TVA is supposed to make the decision in June about whether or not they will fully fund Bellefonte. We really want to be in a house soon... but in some ways it seems like the best decision would be to stay in a camper. But June is 10 months away and I don't know if we can do the camper thing for that long.

Living in a 170-sf camper has taught us that you really don't need a lot of stuff to be content – we only have 1/10 of our belongings with us and I don't miss the rest. The first night in the camper I thought that I would never be able to sleep because the night sounds were so loud – now I can't imagine a night without the night sounds. Camper living requires patience and flexibility. It is not the easiest thing we have done but I don't think it is the hardest either.

I guess we could always rent a house... but that feels like we would be throwing money away. If we bought, we would at least be building equity and interest rates are so low right now, it seems silly not to buy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: House Hunting

We didn't have a "real" date this week, per se. But if you count spending time together {just the two of us}, then I would have to say this week was the first of many House Hunting dates.

We just began our fourth week of living in a 170-sf camper. We chose to live in a camper while we waited for TVA to make a decision on funding for the Bellefonte plant {where Daniel works}. August 20 was the decision day and we found out that instead of fully-funding the project at this time, they are going to fund it for a year. They will reevaluate the decision in June of 2011.

This was not an unexpected decision, but it is not a particularly helpful one. We are ready to live in a house again, but are unsure of where we should buy. We could buy in Chattanooga and Daniel can commute {1 hour each way to Bellefonte} OR we could buy closer to the plant {but if they pull funding next year, we will own property that may be difficult to sell if we end up having to move}. 

And then there is decision of whether to buy 1) our dream house; 2) a smaller property to use as rental property in the future; or 3) land on which to build a house. 

Monday night we decided to drive by a couple of properties on Lookout Mountain and grab dinner at Guthries while we were there. We are also considering downtown Chattanooga, Signal Mountain, areas around Nickajack Lake as well as land in Alabama. 

Cute house. On the upper end of our budget. 
Yard would need to be fenced for Sophie.

The main things we cannot live without is a garage {for Daniel}, a dishwasher {for me} and a fenced yard {for Sophie}. Beyond those things, we can renovate or build to our heart's content. It will be interesting to see what we end up with...

Great price for Lookout Mountain. Great winter views.
No yard and an HOA is a negative.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 31

When I was growing up, the Anne of Green Gables stories by L.M. Montgomery were some of my favorite. We must have watched the movie a million times, but I don't recall actually reading the books.

My mom was so appalled at the thought that I had not read the book that she sent a copy home with me after my last visit to my parents house.

I have not lost my love for the story of the orphan Anne and her journey to Green Gables. Siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, are expecting a boy to arrive to help them with their farm. Instead it is talkative Anne that shows up at the train station. Matthew and Marilla both grow to love Anne as their own child, even though she manages to get herself into the most ridiculous situations. The movie really does follow the book nicely. This will always remain one of my favorite stories.

Excerpts from the book:
"Well, that is another hope gone. My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes. That's a sentence I read in a book once, and I say it over to comfort myself whenever I am disappointed." – Anne
"Why must I kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I'd look up into the sky – up – up – up – into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer." – Anne

"You set your heart too much on things, Anne," said Marilla with a sigh. "I'm afraid there'll be a great many disappointments in store for you through life."
"Oh Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them," exclaimed Anne. "You mayn't get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, 'Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.' But I think it wold be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed."
"I'm so glad we live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?" – Anne
For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her nature... the pleasures and pains of live came to her with trebled intensity. Marilla felt this and was vaguely troubled over it, realizing that the ups and downs of existence wold probably bear hardly on this impulsive soul and not sufficiently understanding the equally great capacity for delight might more than compensate. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Saturn Won't Start...

I was able to visit with 12 relatives this weekend. whew. Actually it has been really nice to be able to buzz over to the Nashville area to meet up with family. 

I was planning on running over to Nashville to visit my brother and sister on Saturday because Daniel was going to take a class that would last all day Saturday. Then Thursday night my sister called to catch up and ask for some advice about their Saturn {the key wouldn't turn in the ignition}. After talking with her, Daniel and I decided to go to Nashville together {Daniel could take his class in Nashville instead of Chattanooga}.

My sister commented that she was a bit shocked at how easy it was for us to get together... she called on a Thursday and we were there on Friday. It is really nice to have this luxury after living 10 hours apart for the last 5+years.

Anyways, Daniel was able to get Angela and Robert's car to start... with a screwdriver. He showed Robert how to use the screwdriver to start the car so that they could drive it to CarMax to buy a new vehicle on Sunday.

When Daniel was surfing the internet trying to find fixes for the Saturn, he came across this forum with the following advice regarding not being able to start a Saturn...
congratulations: you are the 1 millionth Saturn ION owner to enter the thunderdome with the ignition switch problem of the century. be prepared for the ride of your life. and know, YOU MAY LOSE THIS BATTLE.

if you don't drink, start
if you recently quit counseling, call their 1-900 line to open a new case file
hide the kids
and send the dogs to grandma.
a bumpy ride awaits.

you may shoot someone before this is over.
I hope it isn't you.

I wish I had something else to offer.
my ION2 still doesn't work right.
I use my other car mostly,
when I use my ION, I have to turn if off by pulling some wires under the hood.

I'm glad you're car finally turned off.
if it doesn't in the future, pray that god has mercy on your soul.

PS: officially, this problem does not exist.
I suppose the moral is: Don't buy a Saturn unless you have a brother-in-law that can figure out {and fix} the problem...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quotes of the Week

"I would rather drive an old crappy car for the rest of my life than HAVE to work on a PC." – Cheree commenting on whether she should use a PC or a MAC to do freelance work.

"Life is a balance between happiness and being cheap. Some people are not willing to spend money to have fun." – Daniel to his intern. The intern's response to Daniel "I think you are already there Daniel." Earlier that day, Daniel had told his co-workers that he wasn't willing to pay $1 to dry his clothes at the laundromat since he could air dry his clothes for free.

"I have a lot of weapons." – old man in campground relaying to us a story about when a repo man came to his house in Florida at 2AM to repossess a 5th wheel camper. The repo man was pretty dumb since the old man owned a motorhome {an RV that you drive} and NOT a 5th wheel camper that you pull behind a truck. Because the old man was hard of hearing he didn't understand that the trespasser was a repo man {even though the repo man was yelling at him}. So he held the repo man on the ground {at gun point} until the cops came. The old man also didn't realize, until after the cops got there, that he had made the repo man lie down on a fire ant hill the entire time and had threatened to shoot the repo man if he moved.

"You have a pretty dog." – we get this a lot about Sophie, often from kids that want to pet her. Too bad she strongly dislikes most strangers {especially most kids}.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Poor Sophie

Sophie has been having a rough time lately. 

First of all, she is living in the same 170 square feet as we are. I'm sure that has been as much of an adjustment for her as it has been for us. Lucky for her, we have been pretty relaxed about letting her get on our bed {mostly because we feel bad that her space is limited}.

Second, she has to rely on us for her outdoor time. Since we don't have a fenced yard, we don't have the luxury of just letting her run off leash. Not to mention the fact that there are stray cats around that she thinks she should chase when she is off leash. This also means that if we get lazy or don't want to take a walk in the rain, she suffers. In turn, she might wake us up at all hours of the night whimpering. Which means I get to take a late night {or early morning} walk. Last night it was raining, so we skipped her evening walk. Four AM rolled around and she whimpered and gave an insistent bark. So I got out of bed and took her for a walk. She did her business and we went back to the camper. She proceeded to jump on the bed and immediately puked on me... not how I wanted to spend my early morning hours. After cleaning up I took her back outside and we walked some more to settle her stomach. She seems to be doing fine today, but I think Daniel and I need to make sure we don't skip any walks.

Third, Sophie has discovered seed ticks. I had no idea such a parasite existed, but I kept finding these tiny things on her so finally googled to find out what they were. The bad thing about these suckers is that they attach themselves in large quantities and in turn make Sophie miserable with their blood-sucking tactics. I have spent over an hour {on several occasions} pulling these little pests off of her. Unfortunately medicines like Frontline do not prevent them from attaching, they just make them die within 12 hours.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: Double Feature

Daniel and I haven't been to the movies very many times this year {possibly ZERO}. We are too cheap to go regularly and were lucky enough to live close to a dollar theater in Charlotte. Unfortunately, living in two different states and trying to sell your house did not make it conducive to going to the movies together in the last six months.

Now we live in the same place again but we don't have a dollar theater. 

Out of curiosity, I googled theaters in Chattanooga. I wanted to see what was playing and maybe, just maybe, I could convince Daniel that we could spend $20+ to go see a movie.

Lucky for me, I discovered the Wilderness Outdoor Theater, located in Trenton, GA, 11 miles from our campground. They claim to have the largest screen in the world {100x50 feet} and offer double features for five bucks! They have two screens AND you can bring your dog! The only bad thing is that the movies didn't start until 9:15 PM {you have to wait until it gets dark to view a movie outdoors}. This meant that we didn't get home until close to 2AM.

Largest movie screen in the world. 

We will definitely be going back to this theater. You can't beat $5 for two movies {or one movie, if you choose to leave early}. We saw The Other Guys and Salt. It was a nice treat for Sophie to get to come with us - when we paid for admission, they even gave us a doggy treat. 

This was our first drive-in movie experience {that we actually recall... we were both informed by our parents that we had been to drive-ins when we were little.} 

Thumbs up for discovering an outdoor movie theater within 15 minutes of downtown Chattanooga. We will definitely be going back.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 30

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave, is a look at humanity, a tug-of-war between sacrifice and selfishness. It is a commentary on refugees seeking asylum because their worlds are being destroyed by greed. 

Told in alternating first person accounts, the book tells the story of a Nigerian refugee {Little Bee} and a British woman {Sarah} whose lives cross on a beach in Nigeria and then again in England. Little Bee escapes the brutality of her country, only to be put in asylum in Britain. When she is finally released, she seeks out a couple {who saved her life in Nigeria} and discovers that all humans are faced with decisions about whether to help themselves or to help others. In the end, she is deported. You will have to read the story for yourself to learn the ending and decide whether or not you like the book...

I enjoyed the narratives, especially that of Little Bee's. My perception of Sarah is that she is an exaggeration of the selfishness that exists in the western world. The story was intriguing, but parts of it were far fetched {thus a good work of fiction}. 

I think the overall message is good, but I felt that the ending was less than hopeful.

Excerpts from the book:
In your country, if you are not scared enough already, you can go watch a horror film. Afterward you can go out of the cinema into the night and for a little while there is horror in everything... for one hour you are haunted, and you do not trust anybody, and then the feeling fades away. Horror in your country is something you take a dose of to remind yourself that you are not suffering from it. – Little Bee

Still shaking, in the pew, I understood that it isn't the dead we cry for. We cry for ourselves, and I didn't deserve my own pity. – Sarah

Tea is the taste of my land; it is bitter and warm, strong and sharp with memory. It tastes of longing. It tastes of the distance between where you are and where you are from. – Little Bee

Serious times. Once they have rolled in, they hang on you like low cumulus... You travel here and you travel there, trying to get out from under the cloud, and nothing works, and then one day you realize you've been carrying the weather around with you. – Sarah

"Ten percent. That's all I'm giving her. One finger in ten. Ten pounds in every hundred. Ten percent is hardly a wholehearted commitment." – Sarah
"Reevaluate that. Ten percent is the cost of doing business. Ten percent buys you a stable world to get on with your life in. Here, safe in the West – that's the way to think of it. If everyone gave ten percent, we wouldn't need to give asylum." – Lawrence

What is an adventure? That depends on where you are starting from. Little girls in your country, they hide in the gap between the washing machine and the refrigerator and they make believe they are in the jungle, with green snakes and monkeys all around them. Me and my sister, we used to hide in a gap in the jungle, with green snakes and monkeys all around us, and make believe that we had a washing machine and a refrigerator. You live in a world of machines and you dream of things with beating hearts. We dream of machines, because we see where the beating hearts have left us. – Little Bee

Monday, August 16, 2010

the good. the bad. the random. (Camper Living, August 2010)

The Good.
We had a busy weekend that ended with a beautiful sunset on Sunday night {in my unbiased opinion, Tennessee has some of the best sunsets ever}.
The Bad.
One of the campers next to us had come up from Mississippi for the week hoping to get away from the heat. Too bad for them, the mountains are no cooler than anywhere else in the US.

The Random.
The weather in the mountains is amazing. From our mountain {Raccoon}, we watch the storms roll in on Lookout Mountain {about 4 miles away} and it can be completely clear on Raccoon.

The Good.
We discovered the world's largest drive-in movie screen {more about this in tomorrow's post}.
The Bad.
It doesn't get dark until late, so the double feature starts at 9:15 PM.

The Random.
Random thing about downtown Chattanooga: in some places you back into the street parking. I have never seen this before. It makes it possible for more cars to fit on the street and it is much easier to pull out into traffic when you are ready to leave. I kind of like it.

The Good.
I landed my first freelance gig in Chattanooga. I really didn't think I was going to find work in this area, so big relief. In addition, I get to work from home {err, my camper}.
The Bad.
Earlier this year, my laptop crashed and I lost all of my software {which I didn't have discs for}. So I will be getting new software shortly {thank goodness I can get by on Adobe trials for now}. The work will pay for the software and the good part about this is I think I am going to make the leap to CS5!!!!
The Random.
I know you will be disappointed, but the freelance job is not as a tattoo artist.

The Good.
Two weeks into our camper experiment and we have discovered that living in a camper is really not that difficult. And saving money makes it an even sweeter deal.
The Bad.
I know I wrote earlier about how we missed having a big bathroom and being able to take a nice shower, but that part really isn't that bad. Showering in a big bathroom is a luxury, but I can live without it. The HARDEST thing BY FAR is not having a dishwasher. Dishes don't go away. Plus the lack of countertop space makes doing the dishes even harder. I can handle a lot of things, but the dishes are driving me a little crazy {especially considering that I try to cook at least 5 times per week}.
The Random.
Out of curiosity, Daniel and I went to Camping World on Friday to peruse the various RVs. We looked at pull behinds {under $20K}, we looked at 5th wheels {mid $20's} and we even checked out a toy hauler {$50+K}. There are some seriously nice campers out there. And the interiors are HUGE. Not a single one of them had a dishwasher...

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Terminal

Since Daniel typically works a four-day work week, Thursdays are Daniel's Friday. Over the last couple of weeks he has been working overtime, so this is the first three-day weekend we have been able to share together.

To kick it off, we made a last-minute decision to go out for dinner. Thanks to Google, I was able to find reviews on local restaurants and we made our way to The Terminal Brewhouse, located in downtown Chattanooga right next to the Chattanooga Choo Choo, about an 8-minute drive from our camper.

This restaurant is worth a visit just to experience the architecture of the building. It is a multi-story structure with seating around the perimeter of each level and an open atrium in the center that is the full height of the building. It is a pub, so the interior was loud and boisterous, even at 8PM on a Thursday.

We opted to sit outside in the beer garden – located over the kitchen on a grass covered, sustainable rooftop. The biggest complaint we read in reviews is that your food might arrive warm instead of hot {this is probably due to the fact that the kitchen is on the first floor and servers are running the food up and down the stairs}. Our dishes arrived hot, but the fries were on the warmish side.

Since we are not fans of beer, I cannot comment on the beer, but they do offer a wide variety of brews. And the names of the dishes are ingenious – like the Look What You Did You Little Jerk! Sandwich. We give this pub a thumbs up and will definitely be back.

The Terminal Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wild Goose Chase

Today I went on a bit of a wild goose chase on the search for the book, Little Bee. It really should not have been that big of a deal, but being new to Chattanooga, I am bound to experience some moments of wandering.

To start with, I checked the local library {online} to see if they had the book I was searching for. They did, but all copies were checked out AND since it is a current best seller, there is a long wait for the book. In addition, I do not have my Tennessee driver's license yet, so I cannot yet procure a library card. This is a sad situation for me {especially since I am behind on reading my 52 books in 52 weeks}.

Next I opted to search for local bookstores in the Chattanooga area. Among the bookstores that came up were Rock Point Books and All Books. Both were located downtown. I checked the Rock Point Books web site and it had Little Bee listed online. I tried to call to verify that the book was in stock, but could not get through. 

With further research, I found that All Books specialized in used and rare books, so I decided to start with Rock Point {I figured if they didn't have my book, it wouldn't cost me a lot of extra time and my back up plan would be to find Hamilton Place Mall, where I assumed there would be a Barnes & Noble or some other big bookstore}.

So I wrote down directions to Rock Point Books and made my way downtown. I didn't have the GPS on hand, so I was relying on my general knowledge of the area, in addition to the directions. I had no problem finding the bookstore. But it turned out to be fairly disappointing. There were shelves that were empty and very few current books on hand. Though there were quite a few books by local writers, there almost none of the "Indie" books that their web site seemed to infer that they had in stock.

Disappointed, I decided to walk around to see what else was in the area. This led me to All Books. I had not intended to go here, but since I had read about it online, my curiosity won me over and I walked in. It was like walking into another world. The musty smell of old books assaulted me as I entered the haphazardly laid out shop. A little old woman greeted me rather roughly. I asked her if there was method to the madness. She pointed me to two signs. It was such a mess that I almost turned back. But then I asked her more directly if she had CS Lewis on hand. She did and pointed me to the correct shelf. Had I not had an author in mind, there is NO WAY I would have found anything in this crazy shop. I know that my dad would love perusing this shop and I have no doubt he would find some amazing old books. As for me, it was a little much and I left without spending too much time.

Not having had any luck, I decided to see if I could find my way to Hamilton Place Mall. I was pretty sure it was off of I-75 North and I thought that I could get close enough to find it {especially since most malls are sit in close proximity to interstates}. Sure enough, I-75 led me to an exit for Hamilton Place Blvd. I figured this would lead me to the mall, and it did. I drove around the outside of the mall until I found the Barnes & Noble {it is nice that mall layouts are predictable}. I perused the store, found more books to add to my "to read" list and then purchased my book. While at the register, I asked where Target was. Who needs GPS when you can ask people where stores are located?

I made it home in one piece. It is about 15 minutes from my exit to the mall exit. Not too terrible of a drive. And now I have my book in hand. So I would count this day a success.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: Discovery

One of the best things about living in a new city is that there is so much to discover. We get to search for our new favorite Mexican restaurant and decide who serves the best barbecue or desserts and where the best coffee house is. We get to explore and try out new eateries and find new haunts. 

Monday night I had a headache and did not feel up to the task of cooking in our itty bitty kitchen, so we opted to go out for dinner. Since we live at the Lookout Mountain exit, we chose to look for a restaurant on the mountain {with the back up plan to go down to St. Elmo's}. 

I googled "best places to eat on Lookout Mountain" and Cafe on the Corner and Guthries Chicken popped up. Guthries looked like a local version of Zaxby's so we decided to go with Cafe on the Corner. This was a good decision since Guthries closed at 8PM.

Cafe on the Corner was quaint. We wanted to sit outside and the early evening temps were conducive to that. We decided to get the Grouper sandwich with homemade chips and a Black-and-Bleu Burger with fries {we like to share so that we can try new things}. The food was delicious. 

I can't tell you how nice it is to go out on a week night together. Five months of separation during the week really robbed us of simple pleasures like getting to eat meals together and sharing how our days went.

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52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 29

When I visited my parents a couple of weeks ago, my mom gave me a copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This is one of my all-time favorite love stories. I don't recall reading this book before, but I do remember watching the 1983 BBC version of the movie {starring Timothy Dalton} with my parents. This version of the movie is a very good representation of the book. 

The tale follows the orphan, Jane Eyre, as she grows up and becomes an independent woman {in spite of the many obstacles in her life}. The story is filled with the unexpected twists that keep you engrossed until the end.

Some excerpts from the book:
"If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked would have it all their own way; they would never feel afraid, and so would never alter, but would grow worse and worse." - Jane Eyre
"Would you not be happier if you tried to forger her severity, together with the passionate emotions it excited? Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registered wrongs." - Helen Burns

"A wanderer's repose or a sinner's reformation should never depend on a fellow creature. Men and women die; philosophers falter in wisdom and Christians in goodness; if anyone you know has suffered and erred, let him look higher than his equals for strength to amend and solace to heal." - Jane Eyre

It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran before the wind, delivering my trouble of mind to the measureless air torrent thundering through space.
The whole consciousness of my life lorn, my love lost, my hope wrenched, my faith death-struck, swayed full and mighty above me in one sullen mass. That bitter hour cannot be described: in truth, "the waters came into my soul; I sank in deep mire: I felt no standing; I came into deep waters; the floods overflowed me."
Laws and principles are not for times where there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they, inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?

Monday, August 09, 2010

You don't fully appreciate what you have, until it's gone.

This past weekend, we made a last-minute trip to middle Tennessee to put a final load of our stuff in storage at Daniel's dad's house. The Subaru was tightly packed... As in we had to cram our laundry in the cracks and crevices around all of the stuff. As in Sophie had to ride in my lap, in the front seat, for the entire two-ish hour drive.

Daniel dropped me and Sophie at his Grandmother's house {to do laundry} while he went to unload the car and run some errands. While he was out, several family members dropped by. Then we went over to Josh and Emily's for dinner. After dinner, we headed to Daniel's mom's place to spend the night.

The thing we realized that we missed so much was... the shower. Ok, we have missed our family and friends as well, but a good shower seems like such luxury at this point in our lives. It was quite shocking to shower in a bathroom that was a fourth of the size of our ENTIRE camper. To shower with hot water that did not run out. To shower with decent water pressure. That is what we miss.

I need to take a moment to clarify the size of our camper...

For some bizarre reason, I had it in my head that our camper was 300 square feet. To put this in context, our first apartment was about 600 sf. Then our second apartment was around 1000 sf. And the house we just moved out of was approximately 1800 sf. In my mind, moving into a 300 sf camper seemed fairly tiny, but doable. 

Well on Saturday morning, Daniel decided to actually MEASURE the camper. He came to the conclusion that we have 170 sf of space and some of that is actually storage space. For more context: our bedroom in our 1800 sf house was 130 sf. 170 square feet is {less than} one-tenth of the size of the house we just moved out of.

Living in this tiny camper is really not that bad. Almost all of our possessions {like 9/10 of them} are in storage. However, when we visit somewhere and remember what it was like to take a real shower or what it was like to cook in a real kitchen, or to have a garage, well, that is when we might miss having a house. Just a bit. But simplicity of life {for now} is nice too.

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...