the calm after the storm

Well, Christmas has been over for 6 days now, and I'm still recovering. Don't get me was great. It was just allot. Allot of traveling, allot of hanging out, allot of eating. I'm thankful to have some "me time" again.

So much happened, its overwhelming to think about what to post about first. So, I think I'm going to post in stages, and mainly just pictures. Here goes...

1. The Family

Seth and I spent 3 nights with my whole family, and believe it or not, it was really great. Sure, there was a tense moment here and there (usually involving a game we were one in my family likes to loose), but overall, a good time was had by all. Here's the whole family before the Christmas morning chaos ensued:

I don't have an after-the-chaos picture because the present opening process took 3 and a half hours, and by then we were all ready to move on to something else... hanging out with the kids. Overall, they were really well-behaved the whole time, and allot of fun to be around. Isaac (the one lounging on the couch below) really took to Seth...he told his dad one night that "Uncle Seth calls me 'Buddy' and 'Dude' and he's a really nice boy" :

After the family time, I got to hang out with my buddies Al, Chi-Chi, and Ben, and it was great fun as always.

Then Al got to come to Knoxville for a night, and we at sushi with Seth. Isn't his dinner the most beautiful dinner you've every laid eyes on?

Shew. That's enough for now. I'll write about the rest later. You know how people say they need a vacation after their vacation? Those people know what they're talking about. More later...

Oh - Happy New Year, everyone!! Can you believe its 2007?!?!

Holiday Wishes

Christmas is 2 days away, and its time to step away from day-to-day activities (emailing, blogging, what-have-you) and actually enjoy it. I've worked so hard this year...decorating the tree and the apartment; baking a christmas cake; buying, making, and wrapping what felt like a million presents; going to Target 7 times in 1 month because no matter how many lists I made, there was always something I forgot. Its been exhausting, really, but I'm glad I did it, and even more glad that I'm done.

Merry Christmas everyone...from my family to yours!!

...hehehe :)

Its the thought that counts, right?!

This might be the ugliest cake I've ever made:

And I'm pretty sure its undercooked, too. Is it just me, or do the leaves look like snot and the berries look like drops of blood? My co-workers sure are in for a treat tomorrow...


Ruby's big day

We just got back from Grandma's house, and Ruby had so much fun! She sniffed the air and rolled in the grass...

Played football with Seth (Ruby played defense)...

And had some good mother/daughter moments with me...laying in the grass and soaking up the sun.

You just can't beat 70 degree weather 1 week before Christmas :)


My dad turned 65 years old yesterday. 65!! Do you know what else he did yesterday (for the first time, I might add)? Bench pressed 200 lbs. My 65 year old dad bench pressed 200 lbs. I think that's pretty amazing, and it makes me proud that he calls me "Chip" (as in, "chip off the old block") :)

Happy birthday, Dad!!!

Ho Ho Ho

I can't believe Christmas is just a week and a half away! Its amazing how it sneaks up on you. I never really noticed before because I was all "not into Christmas" :) Anyway, I'm just so glad that I've got all my shopping and wrapping done so I can actually enjoy the next few weeks. And by the way, buying gifts for your family and your family-in-law is no small task!

Big thanks to Stacy for these awesome giant mugs. They were perfect for overdosing on hot chocolate last night!

For anyone who reads this blog, I apologize for going on and on about Christmas in every post. I promise there's more to me than this...I've just been kind of preoccupied :) On a non-holiday related note, I finally painted something on that big blank canvas about a month ago, but I woke up the next morning and hated it, so I'm going to gesso over it and start fresh. Once I like what's happening on that thing even a little bit, I'll post some pictures of the progress. Painting is hard. I'm still having such a hard time getting my brain around how direct it is. I have all these ideas, but they are things I know how to do through printmaking, not a brush dipped in goopy acrylic paint. Anyway. More on that later. After the holidays are over, I plan to cope with the cold weather by painting. Or something arty. We'll see...

Early Bird

I woke up today at 7:30 am! I haven't woken up that early by choice in a long, long time. Now its 9:30 am, I've already been up for a couple hours, and I feel like I have so much time ahead of me on this chilly Saturday to do whatever I want. Did I mention that its 21 degrees outside? Brrrr.

I'm pretty sure I irritated Seth and Ruby by getting up so early (and taking pictures of them sleeping). I couldn't help it -- they were too cute!

Notice they've both turned away from me in protest by the last shot :)

Today is my neice's 3rd birthday, and she's having a party at Chuckie Cheese! She's going to have a ball. My very first memory of my whole life was at my 5th birthday party at Showbiz Pizza (which is now Chuckie Cheese), and it was such a great day. Robotic animals and a chocolate cake...what more could a girl ask for :)

I'm off to do some more Christmas shopping...

The big game

Phew. I've been sick all week, and I'm still not really feeling 100% yet, but I'm better, and glad to be off the noodle soup and saltines diet. Anyway, that's why I haven't posted a new blog in awhile...that, and Seth and I were in Nashville last weekend watching the Titans beat the Colts!!! It was pretty incredible. For anyone who isn't into football, let me just tell you - this was a big upset. The Titans haven't been doing well this season, and the Colts have the #1 quarterback in the NFL. The best part? We won in the last 7 seconds with a 50 yard field goal!! That almost never happens. Here are some pictures from the day...

Here's Seth in his big coat on the way to the game:

And here's my dad in his funny fur hat:

Never in a million years did I ever expect to go to a football game with my mom!!

I'm so glad she got to come to the game...we had so much fun together. The only downside? Sitting outside for 4 hours in 38 degree weather. It was seriously so freaking cold...even with all this covering, I was still freezing:

Al was somewhere in the section behind me...I looked and looked but could never spot her :(
Look at Nashville's pretty skyline!

The ride there was fun, too. Ruby ate her dinner in the backseat of the she is licking her chops and looking especially wacky:

Hahaha! If she were a human and was vain like people are, she'd kill me for posting that picture of her :)

That's enough for now. I'm pretty tired from working all day instead of watching TV and napping randomly throughout the day. I hope everyone had a great Thursday!

Good times

Phew. I had such a great Thanksgiving last week, and I had all these intentions of writing blogs about the food (which was delicious), the weather (which was gorgeous), and the good family time (which was great and long overdue), but now its Tuesday and I'm in the middle of a work week and don't feel very enthusiastic anymore. Working is hard. Not really mentally or physically, but emotionally. Maybe its this time of year, but I just want to be home, so sitting in this cube seems harder than ever.

I've written in journals ever since I was a kid, and I've kept every single one of them. At first, they were about dumb stuff like who I was "going with" or had a crush on, but around 16 they started getting angsty and depressing, and after that I only journaled when things were going wrong or I was upset, but never about the good stuff. Now that I don't really write in my journals anymore, I'm torn between keeping the old ones, or getting rid of them so that when I die, my loved ones won't find them and think I was terribly horrible and unhappy.

Now I'm writing in this blog, which is basically an online journal, and I feel like I've been doing the opposite -- only writing about the good things. Am I really that much happier these days, or am I just omitting the bad stuff? I think its a little of both...I'm definitely in a better place mentally and emotionally these days, but its not all perfect. Today hasn't been too good, and I'm blogging anyway, which is why I'm rambling about all this I guess.

Here's some quick highlights from last week...

Ruby wore her new ringer tee (and looked just like a sausage) because it dropped down to the 30s at night and she had to sleep outside at Mamaw and Pop's house.

We hung out with adorable Grandparents...

...and Seth made the saddest face in the world.

Good times, good times :) Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

It's official...

...I'm in the spirit :)

You know who else is in the spirit?

I'm not sure what came over me this weekend. I've never put up a tree, I've never bought ornaments, and after the age of 16, I pretty much dreaded December every year. But not this year. I don't know why exactly, but I'm going with it. I spent the whole weekend doing all sorts of fun stuff...getting a tree for the first time, making popcorn garland (which takes forever but is well worth the effort), sticking oranges with cloves so the house smells good, making paper snowflakes...the whole nine yards.

I know its not even Thanksgiving yet, but I just couldn't help myself. All I have left to get is some stockings that aren't ugly, and believe me, that's not easy to find.

Also, I found another great recipe:

Yes, this picture is sideways, but for the life of me I can't fix it. Anyway, this is Martha Stewart's black bean and corn stew, and its not only easy, cheap, AND delicious, but its also healthy. Well, it could be healthier without the sour cream and cheese, but still. So many vegetarian recipes I find that don't call for a million expensive ingredients consist of massive amounts of cheese and pasta, so a little dollop of sour cream doesn't concern me.

One more exciting thing to report - it snowed today!! It wasn't much and only lasted about 15 minutes, but it was still the first snow of the season and it was so pretty, and I hope to see allot more of it during the next 3 months.

Only 2 more days 'till Thanksgiving!!

Georgia on my mind

Today I was reading this book called Range of Motion (many thanks to Stacy for the recommendation!) by Elizabeth Berg, and the main character was talking about how her friends call her Nostalgia Woman because she romanticizes the past so much. Is that really such a bad thing? I mean, I guess you can go overboard and stop moving forward with your life, but as long as you can avoid that, I think its really good to appreciate the past and the life you’ve lived thus far. I’m queen of nostalgia. Practically every bit of d├ęcor in our apartment is nostalgic…pictures from the past, items from the past. Here’s the most nostalgic corner of all:

I mean…it’s a little out of control :) But I love it. It’s one of the first things I see in the morning, and it makes me so happy. All these things “take me back” or just remind me of good things in my life…the pictures of people I love, the wooden dog figurines that used to be in my parents’ kitchen, the sock monkey that was tied around the bedpost in the room I always slept in at my Grandmother’s house, the light switch I made with Mimi in Austin, the sweet Post-It notes from Seth…and its all sitting on my Grandmother’s vanity. When she was alive and it was in her house, it was covered in pictures. The mirror was no longer something to see your reflection in – it became a giant picture frame. And the drawers were filled with more pictures and letters and toys and tons of keys. That vanity wasn't was just full of memories, and I'm proud that it is still full of memories.

Okay I can't resist:

Wasn't she CUTE?!

Anyway, I'm not sure what the point of all this was, except that remembering is good, and I think its healthy and keeps me appreciative of what I have and what I used to have.

Happy Thursday!

A fall day

Yesterday was the perfect fall afternoon...the ground was covered in leaves, and the air was cold at first but felt crisp and refreshing after moving around a little bit. Ruby loved it too:

She's so patiently standing next to the statue that stands in our front lawn:

Isn't she neat? I've always thought so. When I used to live a couple streets over, I'd drive by this statue (and her friend who got knocked over a couple years back) and think how wonderful it would be to live in a place with statues in the front yard. Maybe this year we'll actually get something other than cold rain here and this whole place will be covered in a thick blanket of snow.

Wouldn't that be pretty?! All the bushes around the front door would look like giant marshmallows :) I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Under pressure

I just love Saturday...putting around the house in pjs, drinking 2 huge mugs of coffee, cutting stuff out of magazines and just a general feeling of - if I want to do something, I will, but if I want to do nothing, that's perfectly okay too. Being in school for what felt like forever, I didn't have that luxury. Sure, allot of Saturdays I did just what I'm doing today, but the whole time I had this cloud of guilt hanging over me. All day I'd think to myself, "You really should go to the printshop" over and over and over, which meant I couldn't truly enjoy any of the putting around that I did.

Now that I'm a 9-5er, I don't have that pressure from assignment deadlines and due dates. But if I'm really honest with myself, I still have pressure, just a different kind. A better kind, I think. Here it is:

No, that white square on the wall is not a spot I forgot to paint...its a canvas I bought and hung (to paint) almost 2 months ago. 2 MONTHS. And I haven't touched it. My excuse is that I haven't made a painting since the spring of 1998 - almost 9 years - and I'm scared it will turn out horrible. Printmaking is so different than painting...printmaking is all about layers and transparency and making all your marks on some kind of matrix and then applying it to your paper. And its also so much about process. There are so many steps to make a print...etching a plate in acid or grinding a 100 lb. stone or carving into a piece of wood. Allot of people shy away from printmaking because there's so much process involved, but I love it. There are so many things that can go wrong but end up making something beautiful - happy accidents, as Bob Ross would say. Painting is so direct. Just dip your brush into paint and go. For me, that's allot of pressure.

But last night I dreamed about painting that canvas. I dreamed that my dad and I took it to this cave on the side of the interstate and painted for hours. Even in my dream I was doubting myself...unable to start for so long because I didn't think I had "it" anymore. My dad gave me some sort of pep talk that I wish I could remember, but whatever he said made me just start and I remember being so happy that I did.

So now I'm posting a blog about it, hoping that if more people know about this blank canvas, I'll be more inclined to put something on it so as to have something to report when asked. Maybe that's not the "right" reason to paint, but whatever makes me do it, right?

Delicious dish

You know when you're walking one way and someone else is walking toward you, and you need to get out of each other's way so you both step to the left, chuckle awkwardly, step to the right, chuckle even more awkwardly, step to the left again, over and over for about a minute until you both finally get it together and manage to get around each other, and you're left feeling incredibly irritated and embarrassed and relieved all at the same time? My whole week has felt like that...sort of off-kilter. Don't know why...just one of those weeks I guess.

Last night I made something so delicious and easy -- veggie rueben sandwiches! I used to eat them all the time at Katz's Deli in Austin, and decided there was no reason I couldn't make it at home (and save $9.50+tip!). If you're looking for new dinner ideas (as I always am), this is a good one.

All you do is butter the outside of 2 pieces of rye bread, then put Thousand Island dressing on the inside of those 2 pieces. Then layer swiss cheese + sauerkraut + avocado + swiss cheese in between, then toast the whole sandwich (butter side down) in a skillet on the stove for a couple minutes on each side. Delicious! I've been so over food these days, tired of all the old standbys, so it was really nice to eat something new.

Happy Thursday!

My daughter

3. Ruby

Well, here she is:

I'm suprised it took me so long to write about her. We found each other in 1999 when we were both having a rough time in Texas. She was just 2 years old at the time, and next month she'll be 10! Hard to believe. Here she is with her dad:

She likes to lick...

And cuddle...

And she's the most neurotic dog you'll ever meet (she takes after me).

She's also a Blue Heeler, she has a stump for a tail, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she lives about 50 more years. The oldest living dog on record was a Blue Heeler (27 years old), so you never know, right?! :)