Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2010

Top 10 List from 2010

2010 started out as a rough year. In January, Cheree stated on her blog that FORTITUDE would be a word to sustain us in the coming year and she was right.

In January we knew that Daniel would {hopefully} start working with TVA, based out of Chattanooga, TN, but we didn’t know when. He spent the first of the year working to finish our {5-year} house renovation so that we could sell our first home.

We held our breath as he endured psychological testing to receive his nuclear clearance and then we experienced a physical separation as Daniel moved to Chattanooga and Cheree stayed in Charlotte until the house sold.

We managed to get the house on the market at the beginning of April and had a lot of initial interest but then the real estate market depressed after the First-Time Home Buyers Credit ended. At the end of June, we were elated to finally receive an offer for our asking price.

In mid July, after 5 months of separation, Cheree quit her job to join Daniel in Tennessee. The first of Augu…

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 52

To finish out the year, I chose The Giver by Lois Lowry – a science fiction novel where a society in a future time lives in a seeming utopia. On the surface they are a happy lot, but as you read further you discover that everything is not as it seems. 
The people have given up colors and choices and love and happiness in favor of the Sameness that allows them to live lives in which everyone works for the good of the community and all are taken care of. That is unless you are too weak or too old or too rebellious. In that case, you are "released" from the community. This release comes in the form of euthanasia – though most of the people in the community have no understanding of what this actually means. The people seem to believe that it is a time of celebration when someone is released.
The main character of the book, Jonas, is assigned the special honor of becoming a "Receiver." He is to receive the memories of the world from the "Giver." He learns that t…

Project 52 Date Nights: The End

It is hard to believe that we have made it through a year of intentional dating. I am a firm believer that doing anything intentionally adds value to your life and in this case to our relationship.
I have discovered that Daniel and I date quite a bit. We have gone on far more dates than I have taken the time to write about. I am so thankful to have a husband who still loves to hang out with me after 10 years together.
This final date was not anything special. We spent part of Christmas Eve making scarves together for Daniel's sisters. Then we wrapped all of the goodies that we had made or bought.
The last 10 days have been full of various visiting with both of our families. We have seen grandparents and parents and siblings and cousins and our niece. We enjoyed a white Christmas {a rarity in the south}. We have been very blessed this year and we are looking forward to next year and all the dates that we will continue to make time for.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 51

Since it is Christmas time, I thought The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis would be a fitting book to read. The Chronicles of Narnia are among my all-time favorite series of books. I don't generally like fantastical books {i.e. I am not a Harry Potter or Twilight fan} but I love the fiction that C.S. Lewis and R.R. Tolkien wrote.
Anyways, even though I have read TLTWTW before, it was worth another read. If you have never read The Chronicles of Narnia {the entire set}, I would highly recommend it.
Excerpts from the book: "...a charge of lying against someone whom you have always found truthful is a very serious thing; a very serious thing indeed." – the Professor

"Why don't they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn't tell lies and it is obvious that she isn't mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turn…

To Me, Christmas Is...

Daniel and I have never been big on Christmas in terms of the grandiose gift giving. My brother would tell you that we are too cheap and my sister would probably be nicer and say that we are just frugal. The truth is I have always had a hard time buying into the "buying" that seems to follow Christmas.

So instead of expensive gifts, we give our time; we give our love; and generally we give homemade cookies. 

This year I narrowed down the baking to three recipes: Brownie-Covered Oreos {found at Picky Palate}; Peanut Butter-Pretzel Treats {based on this recipe found at Simply Modern Mom}; and finally Mexican Wedding Cookies {also called Russian Tea Cakes by some, from the Joy of Baking}. 

I had seriously considered adding a fourth recipe of Chocolate Gingerbread cookies from Goodlife Eats, but I decided to nix it at the last moment. I'm glad I did because 10 hours of baking was ENOUGH.

After it was all said and done, I was tired.  I think Sophie was worn out from watching me b…

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 50

I should have posted this book last week, but Christmas took over my life briefly. I have 5 days to read my last 2 books – hope I make it.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez was an interesting book. My initial reaction was that I disliked it. But having had time to think about it and digest it, I have come to the conclusion that there are parts of it that I like.
This is a love story that takes place in South America during a cholera epidemic. The cholera is not the central part of the story. The story is about a young girl and boy that fall in love. They pledge to be married and then the girl changes her mind. She ends up marrying a rich doctor and the boy grows up vowing never to lose his love for the girl. In fact he decides to wait until her husband dies. He waits for more than 50 years. In the meantime she has seemingly forgotten him.
During his 50 year wait, he becomes very promiscuous as a way to remove the pain of rejection from his life. The book follows his m…

Project 52 Date Nights: 8th Anniversary

On Thursday night – our actual anniversary – we celebrated Christmas with several of Daniel's co-workers by eating at the local Mexican restaurant {one of a handful of places we frequent in Scottsboro}.
For our actual celebration we headed to Chattanooga on Friday where we saw a matinee of RED at the dollar theater and then stopped a J Alexanders for dinner.

Daniel had trout and I tried the fish tacos. Both were amazing. We used to stop at the J Alexanders in Germantown {Memphis} whenever we were passing through. We really love their salads. The atmosphere was perfect for reminiscing about the past and dreaming about the future.

Thankfully we aren't too far from the city and it is easy to make a quick day trip. It is hard to believe that it has been 8 years since we were married.

We Tied The Knot

Eight years ago, Daniel and I took the plunge into matrimony. We had a shoestring budget of $2500, Daniel was still in school and my first post-college job paid $7 an hour. We had no idea what we were in for, but being married to my best friend has been a tremendous blessing.

We have made it through a {5-year} house renovation, a job layoff, two big moves {first to Charlotte, NC and then to Hollywood, AL via Chattanooga, TN}, three months of living in a camper and countless little things. Having Daniel around to share the good and the bad has enriched my life. 

We laugh at life a lot. Occasionally we cry. Sometimes there are fights, but through it all, I wouldn't change anything. Happy Anniversary Daniel! I am looking forward to the rest of our lives together. ILYM.

Project 52 Date Nights: All Work and No Play

Last week we didn't have time for an actual date. Friday we ran errands in Chattanooga. 
I ordered 11 pairs of tennis shoes from Zappos  {yay for free shipping for delivery AND returns}. One of our errands included going to UPS to ship back the 10 pairs of shoes that didn't fit.
Saturday we hung peg board in the garage so that Daniel can finally finish unpacking all of his tools. And so that we can start using the garage to park in!
 Putting my carpentry skills to use.

Then Sunday we turned the power off for 5 hours {on our first snow day this winter} in order for Daniel to work on a project. Unfortunately the temp in the house dropped to 55 before we could turn the power back on. I read a book by candle light when Daniel didn't need my help. 
Daniel cutting one {of several} holes in the wall.
Even though, we didn't have a typical date, we did spend lots of time together.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies

Our first snow in Hollywood, Alabama {December 12, 2010}
With all of the cold weather over the last couple of days, I got a hankering for some warm cookies. After looking through my pantry and surfing the internet, I decided to modify this Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies recipe that I found on Annie's Eats. The end product was excellent, though craisins would have been a good addition.
Here is my modified version of the recipe:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
Dash of allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cups old-fashioned oats 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking…

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 49

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann is a non-fiction narrative of the mysterious disappearance of legendary British explorer, Percy Fawcett.
In the early 1900s, Fawcett was a leading explorer in the Amazon, helping to map and chart borders between countries in South America and unknown parts of the Amazon for the Royal Geographical Society. With the start of WWI, Fawcett gave up the jungle in order to help fight the war. The entire time he was at war, he dreamed of returning to the Amazon and finding a lost city hidden in the jungle – a city that he believed existed based on accounts of an El Dorado {the fabled city of gold}.
In 1925, Fawcett returned to the jungle with his son and his son's best friend. The party disappeared and were never heard from again. Many attempts were made to find them, but most perished while searching. David Grann picks up the trail in an effort to discover what happened to Fawcett.

This was a very intriguing story.…

The Sweetest Thing

Last night I received a call from my sister saying that my niece {Izzy} had perched herself in front of their blank computer screen and was saying "Hi" and "Pup Pup" and that if we were up to it, we should log on to Skype for a quick chat.
So I logged on and got comfortable on the couch. Sophie sat between me and Daniel and we pointed the camera at her. Then through the wonder of video chatting, we were able see Izzy say "Hi" over and over to us and try to hug Pup Pup via the screen.
Melt my heart. I am so glad Angela called to share that with us. Prior to skyping, Izzy had been going through photo albums. It is so sweet to know that she recognizes and remembers us. I guess it doesn't hurt that she loves puppies and we happen to have one!

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 48

One of my goals for 2011 is to compete in a Sprint Triathlon {#20 on my life list}. As motivation to meet this goal, I purchased the book Triathlons For Women by Sally Edwards. I found it to be very informative and full of great advice for women looking to participate in their first triathlon. From what type of gear you need, to training programs and suggestions on what to eat, this book covers just about everything there is to know about triathlons.
I hope to find a spring race to participate in, but if not, I have my eye on the Mountain Lakes Triathlon that will be held in Guntersville, Alabama on August 13, 2011.
Excerpts from the book: "A generation ago you would have been labeled tomboys. You know, women who want to be like men, or girls who want to be like boys. But, you also know that girls love sports the same way that boys do. You are each athletes, not tomboys." – Greg Rorke (1990 President of Danskin)
Acknowledge that there will be pain. Exhaustion and discomfort are…

Project 52 Date Nights: Can't Get Enough

Coming off of the Thanksgiving holiday we have been eating a lot of leftovers. We have also had intermittent company which meant I didn't have a chance to get to the grocery store until Wednesday of last week. By Monday, we were both getting tired of turkey... though I did use some of it to make a pretty good Turkey and Dumpling Stew {incorporating leftover stuffing for the dumplings}.
On Monday night we opted to go out for a post-racquetball meal at Buenavista Mexican Restaurant with one of Daniel's co-workers. Daniel and I split the Mex Tex Fajitas {one of our faves}.
Then Tuesday came and we found ourselves headed back to town and into the parking lot of our favorite Mexican restaurant {I guess that we were really sick of turkey}. I had a Shrimp Chimichanga and Daniel tried a Chicken Nacho dish. I'm just thankful that we have at least one restaurant that we truly love in our little town. We just need to make sure we don't wear it out.
Which we may be on the road …

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 47

My sister-in-law sent me a copy of A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg for my birthday. I was pretty excited to receive this memoir/recipe collection recounting Molly's coming to age and finding love.
It was a sweet book with several passages that felt like they could be describing my own life; especially the ones about the importance that her family placed on eating and cooking together.
I related more to the first portion of the book and was tempted by many of the recipes: Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger, Dutch Baby Pancakes with Lemon and Sugar, and Rum Cream Pie with Graham Cracker Crust, to name a few.
The later portion shares how she met her husband {through her renowned blog, Orangette}. At this juncture, the recipes shift to a more vegetarian-style with a blend of ingredients that would not be high on my list to combine for a meal. I am sure they are fabulous but she lost me when she started in on the seemingly endless salads. I was not regaled by these re…

Only in Rural Alabama

This morning after church we stopped at the local Ruby Tuesday for lunch. While I sipped my coffee, we discussed the pros and cons of the basement apartment we are about to start building. I absentmindedly glanced out the window and almost spit out my coffee when I noticed a rooster wandering around the parking lot. A rooster!!! I was so surprised that it took a minute to gather my thoughts and point out the farmyard animal to Daniel.
Incidentally, the only other place we have noticed chickens wandering around {in a developed place} was on a week-long camping trip in Oahu, Hawaii...

A Visit From the Taylors

Matt, Zeke, Melissa, Me and Daniel
Now that we are getting settled into our new house, we are finally starting to host company {let us know if you want to come visit, our doors are always open}. Last night, Matt and Melissa and their baby, Zeke, came for a quick overnight stay. Matt was the best man in our wedding and a long-time friend of Daniel's. 

Today we showed them the "sights" of Scottsboro: The Unclaimed Baggage Store and The Catalog Return Store. We also took them to lunch at our favorite Mexican joint. It was fun getting to hang out and I even picked up some books at Unclaimed Baggage.
The Lost City of Z
The God of Small Things A Walk in the Woods Love in the Time of Cholera City if Thieves
and Infidel

My First 5K

Laura and I, freezing in the parking lot before running the Jingle Bell Jog 5K As I mentioned earlier this week I spent the last five days training with a friend for my first 5K. Somehow we managed to get in enough training to actually run the race. Our goal was to complete it in under 40 minutes and I ended up finishing in 38 minutes and 47 seconds, while Laura finished in 36 minutes and some change.
At the starting line The course was hillier than I expected and a blister that plagued me all week started to bother me again in the last mile {which was incidentally a long climb uphill}. I succumbed and walked part of that last mile, but still managed to finish in under 40 minutes, so I am proud of that.  Eating Pioneer Woman's Blueberry Baked French Toast post race.
I wouldn't recommend training in five days for a 3-mile run, but Laura and I are proof that it can be done. Next time, I plan to train longer and finish without walking.
What race is complete without a T-shirt?

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 46

I am getting close on finishing my goal of 52 books... 6 books left and 4 weeks to do it.

Hatchet by Gary Paulson is a throw back to my childhood. I read this novel when I was a pre-adolescent and perhaps it had a hand in triggering my passion for the outdoors. 
The story is about Brian Robeson, a 13-year-old boy, who is stuck in the Northern Canadian woods after surviving a plane crash. The pilot is dead and the plane has crashed off course into a small lake. All he has to help him survive are his wits and a hatchet.
I know that it is a work of fiction, but at the time it really intrigued me that this young boy was able to survive. Re-reading it I am still amazed at the story. The author claims that over the years, he has personally experienced everything the boy went through (in one form or another, and certainly not to the same scope). Brian is rescued after 54 days alone in the wilderness. This type of rescue is probably unlikely, but on occasion, miracles do happen. People really do…

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 45

During the summer of 2006, Daniel and I went to Oregon for a 2-week vacation. We spent time visiting one of my college roommates and her family before embarking on a tour of the state. We camped at Mt. Hood, visited Crater Lake, climbed South Sister, toured a lava tube, rode ATVs on 400-ft sand dunes and camped on the coast. We had a blast.

En route to Oregon I browsed books at the airport and picked out A Blistered Kind of Love by Angela and Duffy Ballard. It is the story of one couple's journey hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail {PCT}. It is a humorous glimpse of life on the trail and the effects that long-distance hiking had on a blossoming romance. 
I reread it as part of my 52 Books experiment. I enjoyed being reminded about our trip out West as well as reading about a through hike. That summer, in Oregon, I was all set to go hike the PCT for our next big adventure. Obviously that didn't happen, but I would like to do a through hike of a long-distance trail sometime in m…