Saturday, October 30, 2010

Goodbye Camper

Yesterday we officially said "Goodbye" to the camper. After 3 months of living in a tiny space {170 square feet to be exact}, we have moved on.

Trine and Corey came to pick the camper up yesterday afternoon – a big thank you to these guys for allowing us to borrow their camper. 

It was a little bitter sweet. Raccoon Mountain is a beautiful area. We enjoyed the scenery, eating outdoors, walking Sophie under the stars and just spending time together. After living in separate states for 4 months, the small camper was a great opportunity to be together again.

Living in a camper taught us that we don't need that much stuff to be happy.

On a slightly separate note, after saying goodbye to the camper, we ran some errands in Chattanooga and then went up to Signal Mountain to meet the Reynold's new baby. She came on the day of the tornado warnings {while we were contemplating "taking cover", they were under Code Black at the hospital – this is when all of the patient's beds are moved to the hallway!} Thankfully no tornadoes actually touched down and baby Reynolds had a safe delivery.

We feel very blessed to have the Reynolds as friend's – we could not have done the whole living in two states without them. Their baby is adorable. We each took a turn holding her. When we left, Daniel told me that she was a lot less fragile than he expected!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Back in the saddle

After a cooking hiatus for most of the last 3 months and a good portion of this year {after all it is no fun to cook for one and cooking in camper was a bit difficult} I am back in a real kitchen and cooking again. Daniel is thankful to not be eating out for a majority of our meals :)

Last night I made Chili and Skillet Cornbread. It was a great meal to have on a chilly evening.

Chili Recipe {recipe adapted from Aggie's Kitchen}
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapenos, chopped {I remove the seeds}
  • 1 cup of corn kernels {I used a can}
  • 1 can chili beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 2 tbsp chili powder 
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt {to taste} 
  • 1 cup of chicken broth {the recipe called for Sam Adams Octoberfest or a substitution of red wine, chicken broth or water}
  • 14.5  oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 14.5  oz can of diced chili tomatoes
  • 4 squares dark chocolate (about 1 oz), rough chopped

 Preparation Instructions

  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • Add onions and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened.
  • Add sausage and crumble.
  • Cook through, then add chopped peppers.
  • Cook for about 10 minutes until peppers begin to soften.
  • Add chili powder, spices, salt and stir.
  • Once all the spices have combined with veggies and meat, pour in chicken broth to deglaze bottom of pot.
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes then add in tomatoes and beans and stir.
  • Bring chili up to a boil then simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Add chocolate to chili and stir.
  • Continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes on low heat.
  • Taste for salt.
  • Serve with your favorite toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt, grilled corn kernels, chopped cilantro, green onions {I used whole kernel corn from a can}.
We loved the smoky flavor of this recipe. The cinnamon and chocolate additions were a nice surprise, but really added to the flavor.

Skillet Cornbread {recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman}
  • 8.5 oz Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix {from Walmart}
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • ½ cups Milk
  • 1 whole Egg
  • ¼ cups Shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons Shortening

Preparation Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Place corn muffin mix in a bowl.
  • Add buttermilk, milk and egg to the dry ingredients. Stir until combined.
  • In a small bowl, melt 1/4 shortening. Slowly add melted shortening to the batter, stirring until just combined.
  • In an iron skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons shortening over medium heat.
  • Pour the batter into the hot skillet. Spread to even out the surface.
  • Cook on stovetop for 1 minute, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Edges should be crispy!
We really liked this cornbread. Next time I would double the recipe because my cast iron skillet is so huge and we ended up with really thin slices of cornbread. Also, I ended up turning the over down to 350 due to the thinner cornbread. I was worried that I had burned it because the edges were so crisp, but it turned out perfect.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: Movie on a Week Night

I was too busy moving to write this post on Tuesday, but we did have a date last week. 

Early last week, Daniel and I went to eat at Sugar's Ribs in downtown Chattanooga. The food was great, but the music and decor made it feel like we were at a disco instead of a ribs joint. 

Sugar's Ribs on Urbanspoon

Before dinner, we had briefly contemplated skipping dinner altogether and going to the movies and splitting nachos instead. The movie we wanted to see didn't start until after 8, so we decided to forego that option. 

When we left Sugar's, Daniel asked me if I was still interested in going to the movies. This was a bit surprising since it would mean getting home late and he would still have to get up early to drive to work the next day. After a bit of discussion, we decided to go.

We normally only go to cheap theaters and this year has been too busy for movie going. The Majestic 12 in downtown Chattanooga was a treat. The seats were the most comfortable theater seats we have sat in. Ever. For $9 per person, this theater is definitely worth a visit. We watched Life As We Know It and managed to make it home by 11 {Daniel normally tries to go to bed by 9:30 so he was dragging on Wednesday}. It was a nice spontaneous date in the midst of a very chaotic time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Only in Alabama

I have to start this post with the day we closed on our house. We signed the papers, dropped off a load of our stuff and then headed back to Chattanooga for one last night in our camper.

As we left Hollywood, we noticed a small plane in the median of Hwy 72 by the Texaco near our house. There were several police cars next to him. We wondered aloud if he had actually landed that little plane on the Highway?!? The next day Daniel found out that the man had been traveling from South Carolina to Texas when he "realized" he was low on gas and decided to land on the highway. He landed near the Texaco where he got out of his plane with a gas can to go "refuel."

As Daniel's Facebook status says:

A plane land on the highway near our house. Next to a Texaco. He was out of gas. He landed, pulled the plane into the grassy median, and supposedly got out nonchalantly with a 5 gallon gas can to walk over to the Texaco for fuel. He carries a 5 gallon gas can in a plane. You know what that tells me? This genius has done this before.

Bad Weather
Part II of this post is about tornadoes.  I realize that these storms are not just limited to Alabama. I also realize that October is kind of a strange time for tornadoes and that a lot of areas were affected by these crazy storms recently. But tornadoes really freak me out.

Tuesday was moving day. The movers arrived promptly at 7:30am. They were finished by 11:30. The entire morning clouds were blowing ominously overhead and I kept expecting the bottom to fall out at any moment. As soon as the movers left, the rain started.

Shortly after that I headed back to Chattanooga to pick up Sophie and one last load of stuff from our camper. The wind was really strong and was blowing my car and trailer around quite a bit. At the camper, I hurriedly packed and loaded the rest of our stuff. It was sunny and humid. I got back in the Subaru and headed south on Hwy 72. It looked like I was driving into a wall of clouds. It started raining lightly and then harder. The wind picked up. Soon I couldn't see and the wind was really blowing the car around. 

I decided to pull over and wait it out on the shoulder {along with several other cars}. My reasons for stopping included 1) I couldn't see the road; 2) I knew there were some upcoming water crossings and I didn't want to be blown into the water; and 3) a big orange barrel had blown over and was in the middle of the road, so it seemed like a good time to stop.

I tried calling Daniel and couldn't get through. I called my brother and he checked the internet to see of I should be worried. He told me the weather in Scottsboro was supposed to be "calm and sunny!!!"

Daniel called shortly after that to tell me the tornado sirens had gone off in Scottsboro and at TVA and that he had been in lockdown from the storm – he had texted me, but I never received his text. Shortly after Daniel's call, the weather passed and I decided it was safe to keep traveling. Not sure what I sat/rode through, but it was NOT FUN.

Then last night, we were starving after our moving day and went into town to get some dinner and small things like milk and a shower curtain. On the way there, the radio said we were under a tornado warning and to take cover. blah. blah. blah. 

We went to Walmart where all of the employees all told us not to blow away when we left. Then we picked up pizza at Papa John's before heading home. At this point another warning came on the radio that said that there were several towns in the line of a possible tornado that was moving NorthEast and that you lived in the vicinity to take cover. I looked at Daniel and was like, "I have no idea where those towns are or where we are in relation to those towns!" The radio kept telling us places and Daniel finally perceived that the storm was already East of us {on the other side of the Tennessee River} and I started to feel safe again. 

At least living in a house with a basement has much better options for taking cover than when we were in our camper!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moving to Hollywood

Hollywood, Alabama that is.

Until we find our DSL cable modem, we will have limited access to internet :(

Moving is going well so far. Movers took 4 hours to unload everything. Our boxes are {mostly} in the right rooms. Now we just need to unpack boxes and get organized.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Unexpected Tornado Warning

Looking out towards Lookout Mountain the morning after the storm.

Our second-to-last night of camping was not the serene night we had anticipated. The weather had warmed up quite a bit over the last couple of days {I think we were both regretting the electric blanket} and it was raining lightly. Pretty soon the rain picked up and we found ourselves wishing we had ear plugs to drown out the noise of rain pounding on the outside of our fiberglass camper. 

View of Raccoon Mountain - we are the first white camper on the right.

Before we went to sleep, we opened the vents above our bed and in the bathroom for air circulation. Around 5am, I woke up and realized that we were getting a bit damp from the open vent, so I got up to close it. Around that time, the storm really picked up and Daniel decided to check to see what the radar looked like. Lucky for us the internet was working. Unfortunately, there was a tornado warning that suggested everyone in Hamilton County take cover.

Raccoon Mountain Campground

Since we were in a camper in a campground {not the safest place to be during a tornado}, we discussed our options. The radar showed most of the storm was already east of our campground so Daniel thought we should get dressed and throw any important valuables {wallet, cell phone and keys} in a backpack so we would be ready if we decided we needed to take cover in a ditch outside. This was a less than desirable option as it was still raining substantially. Daniel proceeded to get ready for work and told me to take cover if I thought it was necessary. Thankfully that wasn't necessary.

First load of stuff ready to go to our new house.

Nothing like a tornado warning to end our wonderful 3 months of living in a camper :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Busy. Busy. Busy.

Yesterday we went and helped my sister and brother-in-law move into their new home {in Nashville}. While at the storage unit, it was discovered that something organic had been packed up for the past 4 months. This organic matter had since rotted and turned to a putrid liquid form. It was enough to send Daniel, Robert, Mark and Angela running out of the storage unit. {I was lucky enough to miss out on smelling it}.

Angela tried to persuade Mark to take it to the dumpster. Unfortunately for her, our little brother is not so little any more and he said NO. Angela, being the nurse of the group, agreed to take the basket of unknown material to a dumpster. This involved me driving and Angela hanging out the window holding onto the container while we went across the street to a gas station. We also ended up throwing out a blanket and a few other things that had absorbed the rotten smell. Angela said that it smelled like "poop that had become rotten." That is pretty bad coming from a nurse who is also the mom of a toddler. That taken care of, we were able to finish loading all of their belongings. Daniel and I had to leave before all of the truck was unloaded, but they were close to being finished when we left. *Thank you to Daniel's mom for loading us up with treats for moving day – they were much appreciated.

Angela & Robert's living room, post move-in. Picture from my brother.

The reason we left early was that we had already made plans to meet our friends, The Reynold's, at Cracker Barrel {in Chattanooga} for dinner. Afterward they came back to our camper for "Smores with the Moores." I guess they had been talking about it all week and Sadie {age 4} had asked her mom "When are we going to the Smores house?" Courtney had to explain that they were going to the "Moores" for "Smores." Cute.

I would love to try this recipe for Smores Bars via Annie's Eats
Unfortunately Daniel couldn't get a big fire going, but it was a good smoldering fire for roasting marshmallows. The weather was perfect, but the sky was a bit overcast, so not a ton of stars for stargazing – maybe another time.

Friday night we had dinner with friends {Matt & Melissa and baby Zeke}. Matt was the best man in our wedding. It was fun catching up with old friends and seeing how big their 1.5-year-old baby is {we haven't seen them since he was first born}.

Thursday night we were able to meet up with Shannon {one of Daniel's college friends from TTU} for dinner at The Terminal {this seems to be our standing place to meet friends}. It was great catching up – too bad that we are moving soon.

We are really enjoying living closer to family and friends.

The closing for our house will be tomorrow {Monday} at 2pm. Our movers are coming Tuesday morning with all our belongings. It will be fun to unpack and go through all of our stuff. I have already forgotten what we must own {90% of it has been in storage since July}. *Thank you to Trine and Corey for letting us use your camper for the past three months!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

20 Little Things to Treasure in Autumn

The Inspired Room blog posted the question "what 20 little things do you treasure in Autumn" and I figured I would make my list since Autumn is my favorite time of the year.

1. Pumpkin Spice Lattes {I can't wait to try this recipe that Macoroni & Cheesecake posted} 2. Hiking in the mountains 3. Smores with the Moore's {to take place this Saturday} 4. Hayrides 5. Sitting around a campfire, under a warm blanket 6. Laying in a field, staring at the night sky 7. Sleeping under an electric blanket 8. Wearing my cozy knitted slippers around the house {currently around our camper} 9. The aroma of a Thanksgiving meal cooking 10. My favorite hot chocolate {generally saved for Christmas, but it is good in autumn too} 11. Camping trips 12. Seeing little kids all dressed up for Halloween 13. Trying new recipes that have pumpkin in them 14. The brilliant colors of leaves changing 15. Hot coffee and a good book on a cold day 16. Cramming as many family members that will fit onto a bed, just to talk 17. A warm sweater 18. Knitting 19. Taking a hot shower or bath after being outside in the cold 20. Spending time in the kitchen with family
    What do you love about Autumn?

    52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 40

    One Thousand White Women ~ The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus is a fictional story based on a historical event. In 1854 there was a peace conference at Fort Laramie where a prominent Cheyenne chief requested that the U.S. Army authorities provide a gift of one thousand white women as brides for his young warriors. Looking back at history, we know that this did not occur. However, the book takes the premise that President Grant decided this was a valid idea and his administration went about getting "volunteers" for the task. The first set of women dispatched were a motley crew – volunteers, prisoners and patients from mental institutes that were allowed to gain their freedom by volunteering for the program.

    The book follows the {fictional} journals of May Dodd {a woman who had been sent to an insane asylum by her prominent family for being promiscuous}. The journals tell her story of being in the asylum, her trip out west to the plains, how she and the other women {numbering about 40} are given to a tribe of Cheyenne Indians and their subsequent time with the tribe.

    It was a very interesting book with a glimpse into what might have happened had there been an opportunity for assimilation of the Indians with the white man. It follows the rest of U.S. history in that the tribe {with many of its white women} end up being destroyed by the U.S. Army because the Indians would not leave their land to go to the reservations {all because a gold rush in the Black Hills was creating a clash of cultures}. It has a sad ending, but was an excellent read.

    Passages that stuck with me from the book:
    "It has been my unfortunate experience, Miss Dodd, that in spite of three hundred years of contact with civilization, the American Indian has never learned anything from us but our vices." – Captain James Bourke

    It is clear to me that if I am to keep any hold at all of my sanity, I must not dwell on what might have been... to do so would be to go truly mad. It is the one lesson I learned well at the asylum – to live each day as it comes, day by day, and to dwell neither on regrets of the past nor worries about the futures – both of which are beyond my power to influence. – May Dodd

    "It is the white man way to kill all the animals, to drive them away. It is not the way of the People, for we and all the other animals have lived here together, we have always shared, and until the white man came here there has always been enough for everyone." – Chief Little Wolf

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Being Alone

    A couple of my friends recently posted this video on Facebook and I wanted to share it.

    I think everyone is afraid of being alone. I think this comes in different forms. If you are single, you may feel lonely, but loneliness can also have its grip on those of us who are happily married. If you are unemployed, or work for yourself, or move to a new place, you can feel the tug of loneliness. You can feel alone when by yourself and sometimes you are alone when surrounded by a sea of people.

    There are times that it is good to be alone. To put aside all of the things that distract. To get lost in a book. Or a long walk. Or to enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal. ALONE. When we can find ways to be happy by ourselves, then we don't have to worry about the times when the reasons for our loneliness are beyond our control.

    If you're happy in your head, 
    then solitude is blessed and alone is okay.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Project 52 Date Nights: On The Border

    Thanks to hotel reward points, we were able to go to Atlanta this past weekend and stay in
    a hotel for free. 

    Instead of eating at Atlanta-specific restaurants, we chose to eat at On The Border our first night – mostly because there isn't one in Chattanooga {or Nashville for that matter} and I have been craving OTB. 

    We drove all over Atlanta hauling a small trailer {that we brought to haul furniture home}. It was interesting going into crowded shopping areas and trying to find parking. Somehow we managed.

    We got to OTB rather late, so we thought we would have fast service. We were seated immediately and then ignored by every server/person/manager in the restaurant for the next 10+ minutes. This was probably due to the fact that a huge party was seated next to us {20+ people for a b-day celebration}. 

    I finally made eye contact with a manager and he came by and offered to get us drinks and I mentioned that we had been seated for a while and could he please send our waiter over. He immediately took our order. Then proceeded to bring us cheese dip on the house. The rest of the night, the server was fantastic {it was probably the fault of the guy who sat us, but someone should have acknowledged we were there AND it probably didn't help that we were both STARVING}.

    Anyways, OTB ended up being great after such a slow start.

    The rest of the weekend involved trips to REI, IKEA and Sam's Club. Daniel thought it was very "American" of us to drive two hours to a big city for the sole purpose of shopping {we don't generally shop a lot and the items we wanted were not in Chattanooga or Nashville}.

    We had a great weekend. We did find some hole-in-the-wall places to eat {including an Italian place where we tried lasagna pizza and a Chinese restaurant}. We tried to go to the movies, but that was a bit of a flop.

    Overall good weekend, good date.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 39, Part II

    This is my Part II post for the book Commencement. I have been mulling over this book since I finished it. Mostly I was curious as to what the questions would be for the online book club.

    1. What parts of the book could you most relate to? Least relate?
    There is not a whole lot that I related to in this book. I had a hand-full of close girlfriend's in college, but I had a lot of guy friends too and I am a pretty independent person when it comes to my decision making process. I wasn't wild and crazy. I didn't plan on getting married, but I did end up getting married right out of college. After 8 years of marriage and post college, I guess I feel most like Celia – wanting more than my career has offered. Trying to figure out how to achieve those professional goals while balancing married life and personal goals.

    2. If the author were to write another novel that followed one of the girls onto her next step of life, which one would you want it to be about? Whose story would you want to follow more of?
    There were a lot of things left undone. It just kind of ended. Maybe the author is considering a sequel, but I don't feel like there is enough content to really continue with a series. 

    3. What surprised you the most about this book?
    I honestly thought the second half of the book was very predictable and boring.

    4. Which character did you look forward to reading about the most? 
    I was most curious about April.

    5. Did this book meet your expectations? 
    I read a lot, with a lot of variety. Fiction. Non Fiction. Comfortable topics. Uncomfortable topics. With all of my reading, I found this book to be boring and shallow. I have read non-fiction that is more interesting and fiction that is better written. I really thought that the idea of showing the internal struggles that women face today was an intriguing one, I just felt like the book didn't really get at a lot of the issues that women graduating from college are faced with {especially as they get older}.

    Last Week in Pictures

    Last week was pretty hectic. Here is a recap in pictures:

    We went to Murfreesboro two Fridays ago to pick up our electric blanket and warmer clothes since fall had descended on us. Then we had several days of warm weather that made us question putting an electric blanket on our bed {we also had several nights we were thankful for the electric blanket}.

    Saturday we headed back to our camper.

    Sunday we went backpacking at Bob Bald in the Joyce-Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness area.

    Monday we were back at the camper.

    Tuesday I went to Nashville to babysit my niece while my sister and bro-in-law closed on their house.

    Wednesday and Thursday, my brother and I spent the day painting at my sister and bro-in-laws new house.

    Dining Room BEFORE

    Dining Room AFTER

    Kitchen BEFORE
    For some reason I don't have an after, but we painted it all white with KILZ
    View towards Living Room from Kitchen BEFORE

    Living Room with Kilz primer in progress

     Living Room with primer almost complete

    Thursday night I went back to our camper.

    Friday, Daniel and I headed to Altanta to do some furniture shopping - we wanted to hit up IKEA and search for a dining room table. We also went to REI where I got a great deal on new Chacos as well as a book about training for Triathalons.

    In the end, we bought a mirror for our new half bathroom from IKEA and a dining table, chairs and side board for our kitchen from Sams.

    Sunday we came back to our camper and we plan on sitting tight for at least a week.
    I think Sophie was pretty warn out from all of our traveling.

    We close on our new house next Monday.

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Almost Dinner and a Movie

    We are staying at a hotel in Northlake {Atlanta} that is close to a Movie Tavern – which serves dinner with your movie. We decided {rather last minute} to go see Life As We Know It

    The hotel was close enough that we decided to walk. We had 10 minutes before the movie started, so we hurried as fast as we could. The theater ended up being further away than we thought (thanks to big parking lots) so we ran to try to get there on time. We made it to the ticket booth {out of breath} only to find out that the movie we wanted to see was sold out. Boo. 

    Since we missed out movie, Daniel gave in and agreed to stop for Chinese food instead. Daniel thought that the inside of the Mandarin Palace {where we ate} looked like something out of a movie where a Chinese mob boss would be hiding in the back. The food was good. I'm bummed that we missed out on getting to eat dinner with a movie...

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    A different bed every night.

    Look at me in Chattanooga.
    Now in Murfreesboro.
    Now back in Chattanooga.
    Now in Bob Bald.
    Now back in Chattanooga.
    Now in Nashville.
    Now back in Chattanooga.
    Now in Atlanta.

    That has been my schedule for the past week. A different bed every night... crazy huh?
    We are furniture shopping this weekend because our closing date has been moved up until Monday, Oct 25.

    Just for fun:

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Project 52 Date Nights: Bob Bald

     Shakedown at the camper.

    How has it been a year and a half since our last backpacking trip? As soon as we get moved into our new home, we plan to remedy this and make an attempt to go at least once a month {there was a time when we went EVERY WEEK}.

    Road "not suitable for passenger cars."

    For our initiation back into the world of backpacking, we decided to do a short overnight to Bob Bald in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness Area. We cheated and drove up to the Wolf Laurel Trail to start {almost at the top of the mountain} and hiked 3-ish miles across Stratton Bald to our campsite on top of Bob Bald. 

     Pre-hike picture.

    We arrived just in time for sunset and were thankful to see that we had the bald to ourselves. This was a good thing since when we stopped I stripped down because my skin started itching terribly. We changed into dry clothes, set up camp and started cooking dinner. Just in time for a father/daughter and their dog to come up on the bald. We told them they were welcome to pitch their tent at our site, but they said they didn't want to invade our privacy.

    Sunset at our campsite.

    So in the end, we had the bald to ourselves. The stars were AMAZING. We even saw some shooting stars. The temperature was PERFECT – cool and comfortable {not freezing}. Sophie did really well {she only freaked out when the people walked up to our camp site in the dark, but who can blame her since we really couldn't see them}.

    View from our campsite in the morning.

    We are really looking forward to more camping trips. Next time we will be sure to go to Naked Ground and The Hangover {get your mind out of the gutter – these are real trails that branch off of Stratton Bald}.

    View from the Cherohala Skyway.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 39

    This will be a two-part post because I am participating in an online book club with two sets of questions for this particular book. 

    The selection for this edition of book club is Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan. It is a two part book and the questions are also broken up into two sections.

    I was really excited about reading this book because it is supposed to explore {in the form of a novel} the complicated and contradictory landscape facing young women today... Instead I find an okay novel with deep roots in feminism. Not exactly what I was hoping for. I will write my full thoughts after I finish Part 2.

    1. Which girl do you identify the most with?
    I had a hard time determining which girl I identify with. Initially I felt like I didn't really identify with any of them {not as a whole character}, but with more reflection, I think that at this point in my life I identify with Sally the most. She had all of these ambitions of who she would be when she grew up but her life didn't turn out exactly like she thought it would. Even though life isn't what she thought it would be, she seems to be satisfied with her life.

    2. If you're a college student or graduate, what similarities or differences do you see between this story to your own college experience?
    I attended a small Christian university, so my education was probably vastly different from girls attending Smith.
    I did have a small, close-knit group of girl friends that I shared a lot with and I belonged to an all-girls "social club" {similar to a sorority} and lived in an all-girls dorm. Even so, a lot of my friends were guys and while I think it important for women to have equal rights, I am not a hard-core feminist. Also, I wasn't wild at all.

    3. Which girl do you think has changed the most since her time in college? In what ways has she changed?
    I felt like all of the girls changed to some degree, but they seemed to be the same too. They all appear to be questioning their life choices – which I think is normal for the stage of life they are in. April is the only one who seems to be where she really wanted to be. 

    It really bothered me that in this ultra-feminist book April is in a controlling relationship with her female boss. I feel like the book is saying that it is wrong to let a man control you in any way, but it is OK to let a woman be controlling... I think people should not let other people control them. Period.

    So far this is not my favorite book, but I will give the full verdict after I read Part 2.

    Passages that stuck with me from Part 1:
    One day her mother returned home from church and said, "When I was twenty-five, I met your father. And I brought him to my parents, and they said, 'If you marry this man, we will disown you.' He was white, a non-Catholic. I married him anyway. My father died without ever speaking to me again; my mother missed my wedding, and your birth. We don't always do the things our parents want us to do, but it is their mistake if they can't find a way to love us anyway."

    This was something Sally hadn't realized about weddings until she started planning one – no matter how simple, they were never just about the bride and groom. Those in attendance who were in love felt all the happier; their love strengthened by being in the presence of a new, hopeful marriage. For those who hadn't been lucky in love, a wedding was like a bad paper cut – annoying and painful and impossible to ignore.

    In college, half of what they had talked about was what came next – what they would do for work, where would they live, whom would they fall in love with? They recognized that they were the first generation of women whose struggle choice had nothing to do with getting it and everything to do with having too much of it – there were so many options that it felt impossible and exhausting to pick the right ones.

    What daughter didn't hold her mother up as a measurement of all she hoped to be, or all she feared? What mother could look at her young daughter without a bit of longing for her own youth, her lost freedom?
    If you would like to participate in an online book club, check out Book Beginnings and Bookends.

    Friday, October 08, 2010

    52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 38

    This week's book is actually a "banned" book. You may have heard recent controversy over books that have been banned throughout the United States. I happened to visit the Hamilton County Public Library in downtown Chattanooga during Banned Books Week and they had a display devoted to banned books so I picked up The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner.

    To be frank, I have a hard time believing that The Sound and The Fury is banned. I feel the same way about The Diary of Anne Frank. It makes me question who is trying to censor these books and why. 

    I truly believe it is the responsibility of parents to decide what their children can or cannot read. I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was 13 and it gave me my first glimpse of the atrocities of the holocaust. It did not adversely affect me as a person. 

    As an adult, I get that The Sound and The Fury deals with some difficult content (if you have the energy to wade through the stream-of-conscious-type writing that makes up the first half of the book). I don't know that a child would comprehend what the book is about. Furthermore, you can flip on Prime Time television and see much worse on Law&Order SVU or any number of shows.

    The Sound and The Fury was not my favorite book. It took a lot of energy to read and you have to fill in the gaps of what is going on. This is hardly a book worth banning. We live in a free country and people should be allowed to choose what they want to read.

    As soon as I have a big kitchen again...

    I plan to try these recipes out:

    All images and recipes are via the blog Dinner & Dessert.

    I heart this blog, it has so many great recipes that I can't wait to try out.

    Wednesday, October 06, 2010

    Camper Grilling

    I have had a hard time staying motivated to cook in our camper. I love to cook, but the tiny prep space and the even smaller area for cleaning dishes have had me dragging me feet.

    Since it has gotten cooler (let's be real, it's been downright cold), I have decided to make more of an effort and make use of our grill {mostly because there is less clean-up involved}. I am not a griller. I have almost no experience grilling. I have dabbled with it, but as a grown woman, I figured that I am perfectly capable of honing my grilling skills.

    So this week's menu has included grilled steak with baked potatoes {cooked in the microwave} on Monday; grilled salmon and asparagus with brown rice {cooked in the microwave} on Tuesday and tonight I will be grilling hamburgers with blue cheese and sweet potatoes {cooked in the microwave}.

    I am actually pretty proud of my grilling so far. Thanks to grilling suggestions that I found online and the Neelys suggestion to let your steak rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, then season with salt and pepper right before throwing on the grill {to keep from drying the steak out}, I made a pretty sweet steak.  

    Last night my salmon turned was pretty good too. I found an online recommendation on how long to cook the salmon and I made up a marinade of olive oil, soy sauce and sesame seed oil. I also flavored my brown rice with a hint of sesame seed oil and used EEOO and cracked salt and pepper on my asparagus. This meal turned out to be delicious and incredibly healthy.

    I am really starting to enjoy the grill. Hopefully I can get back into the habit of cooking more regularly – we are both getting sick of eating out so often.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2010

    Project 52 Date Nights: Three Sisters

    Last Friday we met friends at The Terminal Brewhouse for dinner. Afterward we headed downtown to meet more friends for the Three Sisters Festival – a FREE live bluegrass concert. We saw Sierra Hull, Chatham County Line and Ricky Skaggs play. It was a fun concert with perfect weather, not too overcrowded and we even managed to score FREE parking {after I drove over a curb to get to it}.

    Daniel created a sling to carry our chairs with out of webbing that was in the trunk of our car.

    Sierra Hull playing. It was too dark to photograph Chatham County Line and Ricky Scaggs.
    Daniel and I enjoying the music.

    Thumbs up for date night: we had the winning combination of good food, good music and time spent with good friends.

    Monday, October 04, 2010


    I'm not going to lie. Every year, I have good intentions of buying a pumpkin to carve. Most years I make the purchase, but I don't actually go through with the carving part. I think we might have carved one pumpkin when we were newly married. 

    Last year, I saw this tutorial on how to use a doily and paint to decorate a pumpkin. I tried it out and loved it {I actually used a Sharpie marker instead of paint – less messy}. I also liked that I could leave it out past Halloween. 


    This year, I am really liking the idea of using a pumpkin as a container to hold mums.


    Since I am lazy about the carving part, this type of project would probably go into the pile of good intentions that never happen, but I do like the elegant use of the pattern.


    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...