Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: Unfinished Basement and Catfish

After all of our Thanksgiving company left, Daniel and I got focused on projects. Namely trying to decide whether or not to start our newest project: We are going to convert our unfinished basement into a furnished apartment to rent out.

You might be wondering who would rent an apartment in rural Alabama. We are betting on other TVA employees. This benefits us with potential renters who 1) we know have stable jobs and 2) who have already passed a myriad of background checks in order to qualify to work at a nuclear facility.

So that is our plan. Ideally we need to get insulation installed and an HVAC system in before the end of the year in order to qualify for a tax credit. So after much discussion, we decided to get a start on the project on Sunday and drove up to Guntersville to attend church and go by Lowes for some needed supplies.

For lunch, we stopped at the Top O' The River Restaurant for some catfish. We settled into a window booth with a view of the lake. I am learning that when you go to a catfish place with a view of the water, you almost always get a great view. The food is generally OK {my mom makes better}. I guess the view makes up for the food. 

Around these parts, we are also adapting to a not-so-anonymous lifestyle. If you go to Guntersville, you might run into someone you know. If you stop at Home Depot on the way home, you might run into someone else. Such is life in a small town.

Monday, November 29, 2010

C25K in Five Days

So if you have ever decided to start running and you have the internet, you may have come across the Couch to 5K {in 9 weeks} running plan. Also known as the C25K. It helps you to slowly build up to running a 5K with no running experience necessary. It is great for newbies.

I actually started this plan back in January. Then, with my brother's encouragement, decided to just lose the plan and run as far as I could each day. I gradually added minutes until I had worked my way up to running for 40 minutes pretty comfortably. But then it got hot. And I got lazy and quit.

I briefly started running again in August {when we still lived in the camper}. But the hills in Chattanooga {and again the heat} did me in.

So this time around, I decided I needed motivation. Like an actual race to sign up for. I actually had my sights on participating in a Triathlon {which I still intend to do}, but seeing that it is winter, there are not many to sign up for – besides I have no desire to join a polar bear club.

A few weeks ago, a friend asked if I wanted to run a 5K with her. I told her that I was game. It would be the perfect motivation for me. In my mind, this race {The Jingle Bell Jog} was a week or two before Christmas.

I managed to run one day last week {in preparation} and then Thanksgiving took over my life. I figured I still had about 3 weeks to train, so no worries. Right?

Today Daniel told me that he thought the race was on Saturday. I told him he was wrong. And then I found my registration form and learned that I was wrong. The race is indeed on Saturday {and I skipped my morning workout to focus on a freelance project}...

Since Daniel plays racquetball on Monday nights, I decided to go to the rec center with him to put in some training time. I have 5 days of training available, so I better make the most of it...

I got on the treadmill and set it for 45 minutes and started running at a comfortable pace. If I am going to do this, I needed to see how far I can go. Amazingly I ran 3.2 miles in the allotted time. This is the farthest I have ever run {and I am essentially starting from the couch}.

To be fair, I have been alternating between a yoga and an aerobics class 4x a week for the last month, but I was still surprised that I could run the full 5K with almost no preparation. My brother was right when he told me it is mostly mental. I will probably hurt tomorrow. A lot. But if I keep running, I have no doubt I will finish my little Jingle Bell Jog and then hopefully I will be motivated to keep at it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Review

Sophie, Daniel and me

Now that I am well rested and most of our company has gone I feel like I can adequately describe our  Thanksgiving hosting experience {#21 on the life list}.

Riley, Emily, Josh and Zoe

First of all, I will state that no amount of planning and preparation will prevent unexpected things from occurring. It is kind of like getting married – things are bound to go wrong. Most likely these things will be what you will remember for years to come. Our T-Day had several mishaps and I lived  up to my philosophy to laugh and move on.

Regina, Josh, Daniel, Emily and Wesley

Over the last month or so, I have been coordinating with the women in Daniel's family on who would bring what. As expected, we ended up with some extra dishes, but no worries. Initially I had planned on a 2 o'clock eat time {allowing plenty of time for the turkey to cook and all of the dishes to be prepared} but Wednesday night, I found out that we were going to need to bump up the eat time by a couple of hours. I said I would do my best, and we did. 

Thursday started with a nice breakfast of Pioneer Woman's Blueberry Baked French Toast {one of my faves}, sausage pinwheels {a holiday tradition for my family} and lots of coffee. After breakfast, Daniel's mom, sister and I got to work in the kitchen. 

Sausage and Biscuit Pinwheels

A quick confession: 
I NEVER test any recipes before I cook them. Ever. Period. No exceptions. I also don't cook many things more than once. I held to this philosophy even for Thanksgiving Day. In addition, I made a very last minute decision to change turkey recipes – instead of making Real Simple's Roast Turkey, I pulled an audible and went with the recipe from Cook's Country for a Bard Turkey. The only thing I can say about this last-minute decision was that I saw cheesecloth on a last-minute Wal*Mart run and decided {on the spot} that the Bard Turkey sounded too good to pass up.

Bacon-Wrapped Turkey

So after breakfast, we got started on the turkey. This is where my first mishap occurred... there were no giblets inside of the turkey. The neck was there, but no plastic package of giblets. I looked several times, had Daniel and his mom both check and then decided that I couldn't waste my day searching for giblets and I moved on. We covered the turkey with thick-sliced, hickory-smoked bacon, topped it with a wet cheesecloth and tin foil, poured 4 cups of water into the pan and stuck that sucker into the oven.

Cheesecloth on turkey – looks like a mummy

After that we started on the recipe for rolls {that needed 3 hours to rise} and a pie crust for the Double Chocolate Pecan Pie

Regina and I prepping the turkey

Note for the future {and to anyone else who ever plans a large dinner party}:
When you set timers for things, you need to KNOW what they are for. In the future, I will write down the times that things should come out. Instead I set the three different alarms on my phone for various recipes and found myself scratching my head a few times, trying to figure out what was supposed to come out of the oven {or go in}. More on this later.

Mr. Ralph, Grandmother and Aunt Trine

So we continued with our cooking. Daniel's aunt, grandmother and her husband showed up at 11AM {thankfully I had time to take a quick shower before they arrived}. Soon we had five women in the kitchen and everyone wanted to know how they could help. I am sometimes a control freak, so I had to slow down and think about what people could do to help {on the fly}.

The cooking aftermath – Regina kept up with washing dishes throughout, 
so it didn't look too terrible!

I soon had Regina chopping things {with a quick instruction on how to use a Chef's knife instead of a Paring knife for the job}. Emily and Grandmother worked on the potatoes, while I worked on the stuffing and Trine filled in with whoever needed help. 

Cooked Bard Turkey

After two hours of cooking, I pulled the turkey out to check the temperature. It was supposed to cook for 2.5-3 hours with it's coverings, then cook for an additional 1 or so without the coverings. When I checked it, the silly thing was already done. 

Me, Daniel, Wesley, Emily and Josh

At least this meant we had the ENTIRE oven for cooking the final dishes. It also put us on the fast track to being finished and eating early {as requested}.

Me, Daniel, Emily and Josh

Things went into the oven, things came out. My alarm clock kept going off and I {mostly} pulled dishes out at the right time.

Me, Daniel, Regina, Emily and Josh

Once the potatoes were cut up and on the stove boiling, Emily asked what she could do next. I had her strain the juices from the turkey so that I could make the gravy. By the time I thought about the gravy again, I asked where the drippings and strained fat were... ooops, they had been tossed out. 

The Grub

Not to worry, I googled how to make gravy without drippings and just winged it. We used the turkey juices and flour but I was having trouble getting the gravy to thicken. After adding 1 cup of flour {as opposed to 1/4 a cup}, the gravy was still runny. I asked Regina to help me out and she added even more flour. Unsure of what to do, we mentioned to Grandmother that the gravy wouldn't thicken and she suggested that we add corn starch. Lo and behold, that did the trick.

Regina and Trine

We finally finished all of the cooking and I asked Daniel to carve the turkey. He said he had no idea how to do it, so I told him to watch a YouTube video. He decided to just wing it. He did a fabulous job and our bacon-covered turkey was incredibly juicy. On a side note, he discovered the giblets while cutting the turkey. It would seem that they were located in the other end of the turkey! At least they were cooked. 

We finally gathered to say grace and sit down at the table. The food was all wonderful and I was thankful for a chance to sit down. Just before we dug in, my alarm clock went off one last time. Daniel's aunt asked me what it was for (see note above about setting alarms). In my mind everything had come out of the oven and I told her that it was nothing and we should go ahead and eat.

 Grandmother, Mr. Ralph, Daniel and Josh

About 30 minutes into the meal, Regina went into the kitchen to get something. I thought she was refilling her tea. Soon she was hollering for me or Daniel to come assist her with something. I got up to go see what the deal was and she very sweetly showed me my blackened pie crust. That alarm that I had told Trine didn't mean anything, well it was for the pie crust I had completely forgotten about. So much for making my Double Chocolate Pecan Pie!!! At this point I just had to laugh. It was so ridiculous. It was the only major catastrophe and considering we had other desserts, it wasn't worth getting upset about. I think I will always retell the story of how I burned my pie crust to a crisp the very first time I ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner!

 Some of the leftovers

As an aside, my parents, brother and grandma came up to visit the day after Thanksgiving. I am so thankful that we were able to see them. It was fun to relive my Thanksgiving stories and they shared theirs with us. This year, my brother, brother-in-law and I all cooked our first turkeys. We all used completely different recipes and they all turned out great! Evidently Robert had the same issue with the giblets and my brother {the least experienced cook} was smart enough to find them before cooking his turkey!

 Sophie napping after everyone left

I am so thankful for all of our family members. I am sad that we missed out on seeing Angela, Robert, Izzy and Amy this year. We are looking forward to Christmas and more time with family and friends.

 Grandma, Dad, Mom, Mark, Me and Daniel

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving, by the numbers

1 completely blackened pie crust 
2 pumpkin pies {and one pumpkin spice cheesecake}  
3 dogs to annoy each other and beg for food  
4 cups of turkey stock {and an incident of throwing out drippings, which meant a last-minute consultation of the internet to make gravy WITHOUT said drippings} 
5 times more than enough food  
6 hours of cooking, baking and orchestrating  
7 days is the amount of time I need to recuperate from cooking 
8 potatoes {mashed}  
9 chairs crammed around a table for eight
10 strips of bacon to cover a turkey
12 sticks of butter  
15 made-from-scratch dinner rolls 
22 eggs  
And a fridge full of leftovers.

That was our Thanksgiving in a nutshell. 
Will post more later when I am not so exhausted.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Grub

Daniel and I are hosting his family for Thanksgiving this year. So I guess I can mark #21 off my life list. Technically, we hosted Thanksgiving for my family about 3 {or 4} years ago in Charlotte. My parents, Grandma and brother were there. We used our china for the first time {in 5 years of marriage}. The reason I am not counting that towards my life list is that my mom was there and while we planned together and it was my house, she was the one who orchestrated the cooking of the turkey and told me how to make things like mashed potatoes.

I would say this time is different because I am the one planning {and my cooking experience has increased significantly}. I have been in touch with Daniel's mom, grandmother and sister about what they are bringing. So it is more of a "true hosting."

Anyways, the hardest thing for me has been trying to narrow down what recipes I want to cook. I LOVE TO COOK so this was a bit of a challenge. My other concern is that I don't want to have so many leftovers that Daniel and I are stuck eating turkey and the accompanying food until New Years...

My mom taught me long ago that whatever you cook will be enough {even if you think it is not enough, it will be}. I have also had the opportunity on multiple occassions to work with my mom planning four days worth of meals for 30+ adults, so I think I have a pretty good grasp of what is necessary {without going overboard}. All of that said, I still like to cook and trying to determine only one {or two} favorite desserts has been a bit of a challenge.

For the turkey, I narrowed my recipes down to Real Simple's Basic Roast Turkey, Pioneer Woman's Brined Turkey or Cook's Country Bard Turkey. While I love PW, I decided against using a brine because I plan on using the drippings for gravy and I didn't want it to be too salty. I saw the Bard Turkey on PBS over the weekend and I am very tempted to try it. But I think I am going to stick with the Real Simple Roast Turkey and Gravy.

While I am not making PWs turkey, I am using her recipes for stuffing and dinner rolls – she never lets me down.

Mashed potatoes are pretty basic and I am not using an actual recipe for these guys. And I will be making my Grandma's 5-cup salad.

As for dessert, I am giving into my own desires and making two desserts courtesy of Annie's Eats: Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake and Double Chocolate Pecan Pie {I made this last year and it was ridiculously good – I get my pecan pie and Daniel gets his chocolate, a total win win}.

Daniel's sister is bringing pumpkin pie and sweet potato casserole. His mom is making fried okra, additional turkey breast and cocktail weenies and his grandmother is providing the green bean casserole, cranberry salad and her amazing sweet tea.

I think we have all of our bases covered and should have a fabulous spread. 
And most likely there will be plenty of leftovers. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Project 52 Date Nights: Thanksgiving Preparation

We are hosting the Moore Thanksgiving this year. So we created a long list of things to do before company arrives. Last weekend was supposed to be the final push. Get it all done, so we don't have to worry. Friday we went strong. Saturday Daniel got fixated on getting our new internet TV to properly connect to the internet and I didn't feel so great. 

So instead of working all day, we took it easy. Daniel got the TV and internet working together and we opted to watch an instant Netflix movie instead of working. Laying on the couch together {vegging out} was just what we needed.

Sunday we were back at it and managed to accomplish just about all of our projects {including my shopping for Thanksgiving day and other planned meals for the long weekend with company}. 

We have a few things left to do, but even if we don't have our house in perfect order, it is OK. The beautiful thing about Thanksgiving is that it is a time to be together and to be thankful {it has nothing to do with finishing all of your little projects, though sometimes that is nice too}.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 44

Everyday I Love You More (Just Not Today) by Nancy Shullins is a down-to-earth look at what makes lasting marriages work. Full of humor, wit and good advice, this book kept a smile on my face. The short chapters make it easy to read in small increments. I would recommend this book to anyone who is married, thinking about marriage, or in a long-term relationship. 

Excerpts from the book:
The partnerships that stay fresh are the challenging ones, the ones that never stop pushing us out of our ruts, coaxing us to shut our eyes, take a deep breath, and soar.

There are always some issues that can't be resolved in a way that will satisfy both. Somebody loses and somebody wins, and that's the way life tends to go... Flexibility, resilience, and openness are invaluable marital aids. When the answer isn't obvious, give it some time and wait and see what option lies ahead. It may look different from what you had in mind, but that isn't to say that it can't work. Happiness comes in unpredictable ways; the key to finding it lies within you.

Dogs have some sort of genius for making their owners connect... In the interest of harmony, stress management, and joy, I heartily recommend pets: fun loving and loyal, entertaining and adoring, affectionate and mercifully incapable of talking back. Amiable escorts on the journey through life, selfless shock absorbers over the bumps.

Letting someone else do things means losing control of the manner in which things get done. While that many not be easy, it's still worth a try for the chance to unburden ourselves.

"A lot of friction is caused by half the drivers trying to go fast enough to thrill their girlfriends and the other half going slow enough to placate their wives." – Bill Vaughan

The love that holds people together for life is mysterious, elusive, and rare. Like snowflakes or humans, no two loves are alike; every couple must find their own way. It's that journey through life that we celebrate here, the one for which there is no map. The footprints we leave get erased by tides, but the love we create never dies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rural Living

Living in rural Alabama continues to take some getting used to. I can't get everything I would like from the grocery store – most recently I discovered that Stacy's Pita Chips and lamb were not available.

Then today we didn't receive a package because FedEx couldn't find our house. 

Tonight we tried to watch a movie on our fancy internet TV and the movie kept delaying because our internet signal was weak.

Thankfully I can find most things at Wal*Mart, UPS knows where our house is and we have free television {even if it is slow sometimes}.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Alabama DL

Getting our licenses and car tags this morning was ridiculously easy {unlike TN where I was told I needed a marriage license and unlike NC where you have to jump through a million hoops}. No lines. No ridiculous taxes to pay. We were done in under an hour {and even got our boating and motorcycle endorsements}. All of the offices you need are basically located at the courthouse. People are very friendly. The driver's license lady actually talked to us for over 15 minutes. Just shooting the breeze, telling us about a local gas station that sells really good hot dogs and coleslaw.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Izzy Bug and Pup Pup

This morning, my sister and niece skyped me. So sweet :) Izzy definitely knew who I was because she kept asking where pup {aka Sophie} was. Then when Sophie came and sat on the couch with me and I pointed the camera at her, Izzy climbed on the desk and tried to hug pup pup. 

I love technology.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

100 things I would like to do in my lifetime:

I have an ongoing list in my mind of things that I would like to do in my lifetime. Over the years I have crossed off some of the things on the list and have added new things. I recently read Mighty Girl's list and was inspired to commit to writing down my own list. A lot of my dreams have to do with travel and adventure. Some are work oriented and some are personal goals to accomplish some time in my life. I hope that I am someday able to mark off all the things on my list. But if not, I feel truly blessed to have done the things already marked off.

1. Visit all 5 Great Lakes
2. Open a coffee shop/bakery
3. Design a yearly calendar planner 

4. Hike 100 miles on the Tour de Mt Blanc
5. Climb/hike/visit the highest points in all 50 states  

--- Highest Points I have been to, to date: Mt. Magazine, AR; Mt. Elbert, CO; Mt. Mitchel, NC; Mt. Rogers, VA; Clingman's Dome, TN; Mt. Washington, NH, Brasstown Bald, GA; Cheaha Mountain, AL; Lakewood Park, FL ---
6. Visit Patagonia
7. Tramp the Milford Track in New Zealand
8. Scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef
9. Learn how to ride a motorcycle/get my motorcycle license

10. Become a mother
11. Get a dog
12. Raise and train a puppy
13. Design and print a family cookbook
14. Stay married until “death do us part” 

15. Bike tour in SouthEast Asia
16. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
17. Learn how to sail
18. Ride 4-wheelers in the mountains 

19. Bike a century
20. Participate in a triathlon
21. Host a Thanksgiving dinner
22. Make Christmas stockings
23. Design and build a house
24. Live in Colorado
25. Spend a week canoeing in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area
26. Visit Yellowstone
27. Hike in the Grand Tetons
28. Raft in the Grand Canyon
29. Visit Carlsbad Caverns
30. Join a spelunking club
31. Visit Havasu Falls
32. Learn how to ski 

33. Ski in the Rocky Mountains
34. Hut-to-hut cross country ski
35. Ride horses on a beach
36. Open a bed-and-breakfast that also offers guided outdoorsy day trips
37. Live in the same city as my parents, sister and brother {as a grown up}
38. Marry my best friend
39. Get married on a budget of less than $2500

40. Knit a sweater
41. Learn how to make fried chicken as good as my mom
42. Visit Denali
43. Drive cross country and tent camp in national forests
44. Own a Land Cruiser
45. Run a half marathon
46. Read 52 books in one year
47. Learn how to mountain bike 

48. Grow my own vegetables
49. Grow my own herbs
50. Keep indoor plants alive
51. Participate in a Muddy Buddy
52. Participate in an Adventure Race
53. Get to and maintain a healthy weight
54. Graduate from college
55. Teach

56. Build a zip line in my back yard
57. Learn and understand how to use CSS to design/develop a web site
58. Design a line of greeting cards
59. Make my own bread {without a bread machine} 

60. Go on a cruise
61. Travel overnight in a sleeper car in Europe
62. Hike in the Alps

63. Cook every day for one year
64. Visit Papua New Guinea as a grownup
65. Learn how to scuba dive

66. Go parasailing
67. Skydive
68. Shoot a gun

69. Learn how to crochet
70. Be financially able to retire by age 55
71. Make a profit, buying, renovating and selling a house
72. Illustrate a children’s book
73. Mountain bike in Moab
74. Visit missionary friends in South Africa Scotland
75. Visit missionary friends in Papua New Guinea

76. Visit the Great Wall of China
77. Make a quilt
78. Write a book
79. Own a cabin in the woods
80. Fly a plane
81. Learn how to rock climb

82. Go snow shoeing
83. Own rental property
84. Become completely debt free {including mortgage}
85. Sleep on a beach

86. Read my Bible through in chronological order
87. Start a compost pile
88. Visit all of the continents except Antarctica {I only lack Africa and S. America}
89. Use public transportation to commute to work

90. Learn how to roll a kayak
91. Get a haircut I love
92. Join a book club
93. Hike the entire Appalachian Trail {section hike or through hike}
94. Learn how to make and decorate cakes and cupcakes that look and taste professional
95. Participate in building a house with Habitat for Humanity
96. Paddle the Gauley {in the fall}
97. Go Canyoning in Interlaken Switzerland
98. Visit an aquarium

99. Watch an eclipse
100. See a bear in the wild

Project 52 Date Nights: Getting To Know You

One of the unexpected things about moving to rural Alabama has been making new friends. We have been getting together fairly regularly with one of Daniel's co-workers and his wife. Last Tuesday we had them over for a Chili and Game night. We played Things – a favorite of my family's. 

To play Things, a moderator reads a card, for example:  
Things you shouldn't say to your boss. 

Everyone writes down their answer and the moderator reads the responses and you take turns guessing who wrote what. This can be a very hilarious game and a great way to get to know people.

It was fun but I think this is a game that is best played with a group of 8+ people. We are enjoying getting to know Daniel's co-workers better.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hike: Bucks Pocket State Park

I remember the first time we took Sophie hiking. It was a lesson in patience for me and Daniel. She barked and growled at EVERY person and dog we came across. She wrapped her leash around every other tree. She pulled on her leash like crazy and went berserk whenever she caught the scent of a squirrel.

We have come a long way from that first hike. 

Today we went to Bucks Pocket State Park for a quick hike in the woods on the Point Rock Trail. We had planned on a Saturday hike, but we were in a groove of completing projects that we didn't want to tear away from. Today we woke up to overcast, cooler weather which was a bit of a disappointment since yesterday was gorgeous.

We thought about throwing in the towel and playing racquetball instead but we finally decided to go on and do the hike. It turned out to be a good hike. Nice and cool. And Sophie had a blast. We were pretty much the only people on the trail. Sophie no longer wraps her leash around trees and we can let her off leash to roam at her heart's content. She was in doggy heaven, running up and down the side of the mountain. She does really well with following the trail and stopping to make sure we are still following her.

At one point we had to climb up some large rocks. Daniel jumped across. Sophie went behind him. Stopped to access the situation. Whined a little and then jumped across as well. 

Hiking with her can be a lot of fun. She is really good most of the time. Of course at the end, she got the scent of something and took off up the mountain. It took us a while to coax her back to us. Overall a good hike. I think we will head back on a nicer day so that we can enjoy the views.

Weekend Projects

For the last couple of weeks, our breakfast area has been a staging area of sorts. Containment for empty boxes. We haven't been sure what to do with the boxes. In Charlotte, we would have hauled them to the curb on garbage day and they would be picked up by a recycling truck OR we would put them on CraigsList and hope that someone paid us a little for them. In Hollywood {Alabama}, we have resorted to finally moving them to our basement until we can figure out an alternate way to get rid of them – maybe have a really big bonfire?

After clearing out the breakfast area, we finally got around to putting together our breakfast table and chairs. We have decided that if we don't have to physically put together the furniture we buy, then it is probably out of our price range. Besides, putting together our furniture guarantees that it is put together well.

Another project we had this weekend was to install a new closet organization in our master bedroom closet. The house came with wire mesh shelves, but no hanging bars for clothes and the shelving was not secured to studs... this type of shelving would have ripped out of the wall if we had put our clothes on it.

We opted to buy a ClosetMaid system that we had installed in our last house. We planned on buying white, but while shopping at Home Depot we discovered that all of the cherry shelving by ClosetMaid was half off. HALF OFF!!! After much discussion, we decided to go with the cheaper shelves so that we could buy more. 

We were able to install a majority of our shelves and hanging bars, but the very last shelf had bad cam locks. Daniel broke about 14 of them before we gave up. For now, the closet will stay partially unfinished until we can get some new cams from ClosetMaid. I am thrilled that I can go ahead and finally unpack most of our clothes. 

It has been a productive weekend, which makes me happy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 43

Growing up, I remember that my mom had a poster titled "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." As a preadolescent, I thought it was a pretty clever poster. Many years later, I still find that it holds true.

The book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum is full of short, witty views of life that brought a smile to my face. It is a quick read with short chapters that can be read whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Here are a couple of excerpts from my favorite chapters...
All I really needed to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt someone. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balance life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we. And remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.

Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they came from and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you get out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Man next door and I look upon one another with suspicion. He's a raker and a shoveler, as I see it. A troubler of the natural ways of the earth. Leftover from the breed that conquered the wilderness. He thinks of me in simpler terms: lazy.

...Leaves have been falling down for thousands and thousands of years, I tell him. And the earth did pretty well before rakes and people, I tell him. Old Mother Nature put the leaves where she wanted them and they made more earth. We need more earth, I tell him. We're running out of it, I tell him. And snow – snow is not my enemy, I tell him. Snow is God's way of telling people to slow down and rest and stay in bed for a day. And besides, snow always resolves itself. Mixes with the leaves to form more earth, I tell him.
Both of these excerpts resonate with me. I really do think that the world would be a happier place if we lived by simpler rules. As for raking leaves, Daniel and I are not leaf-raking folks. Every year we let them be and every year {by summer} they are gone and the grass is back and we haven't wasted hours and hours of our lives raking.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Big City

Yesterday started out well. I went to yoga and then got ready to go to the big city {aka Chattanooga} to run some errands and to meet with a client to kickoff a new project. 

I got to go to Chick-Fil-A and Target and Starbucks. I felt like I was participating in the real world again by sitting in on a 3-hour meeting with a marketing department where my design and marketing experience was of value {no offense to Sophie, but sometimes hanging out at home with my dog can be boring}.

One of my errands was to go by our Public Storage unit to get the last of our things from storage. This would have been fine, but the following things occurred:

Daniel put the wrong address for Public Storage into the GPS and I ended up in the middle of nowhere. I stopped twice to try to recalculate where I was. In the end I ended up on Hwy 27 in Soddy Daisy {I needed to be in Hixson}. I eventually figured out where to go, but I ended up driving for an extra 40 minutes.
When I reached said storage place it was pitch black out and I realized that I did not have the access code with me. Nor did I know what unit our stuff was in. I called Daniel. Three times. Unfortunately he was playing racquetball and did not answer any of my calls.
Annoyed that I had already driven for an hour AND then couldn't get in, I decided to stop and buy myself a large Dr. Pepper before driving home. I had a 1.5-hour drive back to the country to get over being annoyed about the whole storage unit fiasco.

Daniel was in the shower when I finally made it home. He said we had dinner plans to meet some friends at a local Mexican place. So the day ended well. Note to self: Use Google beforehand to make sure you know where you are going before relying on a GPS that may or may not have up-to-date information on it.

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...