Sunday, December 18, 2011

Post Script

PS. to the post I put up an hour ago:

I love my family. When I was in high school I asked for a telescope for Christmas. I got one - I loved that thing. I remember setting it up after Christmas (in Maine), wrapping a blanket around my shoulders and looking at the contours of the moon. You can see a thousand pictures of the moon that someone else took, you can see a person standing on the surface of the moon, but looking at the moon with your own eyes is more magical than either of those. A telescope is one of the purest gifts you can give to someone... the ability to look at the stars in real time is mind-boggling.

I still have that telescope. It has been from Maine to NC to San Diego to Atlanta. I keep dragging that thing around, but never set it up because I don't have a good spot for it (and since I'll soon be living in a tiny apartment in DC I still won't have space). Since I'm driving to Maine I asked my family if they would like me to bring it up so that they can use it.

My mother's response:

"You can bring back the telescope and we'll set it up to find Santa."

Like I said, my family rocks. We range in age from 23 to (nearly) 60, and Christmas is still about magic, Santa, surprises. We still leave cookies out for Santa, and my parents still sign their gifts from Santa. There is really no need to ever turn away from the magic that this time of year brings.

I can't wait to share this with my children.

Getting Ready

We relaxed all weekend.

Opened gifts, went out to eat, watched movies (his choice: 30 minutes or less; my choice: Jane Eyre.... typical), wrapped gifts, snuggled on the couch, ate brunch with friends, went to two record shops, drank too much beer, rode the train, discussed climate change, ordered pizza, contemplated living in Maine, contemplated living in Florida, hoping to settle on DC.

Now I'm packing. I feel like a squirrel. Packing, storing, tucking away, piling things to go to Maine, piling things to go to Goodwill. Sneaking in quick moments to read the manual for my new camera.

And.... my sewing project is done! I made Tom a tree skirt, but haven't taken proper pictures of it yet. Soon, I promise. Soon. You'll come back, won't you?

Meanwhile, I'll be eating peppermint bark, drinking the rest of our weekend beer, piling and packing and unpiling.....

Happy Sunday. Happy Weekend-Before-Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

day to day....

And just when I think I'm ready to breeze through the holidays, BAM - it hits! Suddenly I schedule myself for 10 different things in one evening that aren't feasible at all. Go grocery shopping, make peppermint bark, bake coconut macaroons with chocolate ganache, find the perfect gift for Tom's sister, find the perfect gift for my sister, finish my sewing project, make myself a healthy wholesome dinner, play with my dog, do my laundry, flesh out details of New Year's resolution, go to library to pick up books on CD for my road trip to Maine, and relax.

Screeching halt as brakes are applied.

I bought a few needed ingredients at the grocery store, I made the peppermint bark, bought a gift for my sister (though it is not quite "perfect" so I think I'll return it), said sayonara to the macaroons, threw in load of laundry, made myself spinach spaghetti, and am now making time to relax.

All in all, not a bad day. Good thing I wrote that post last night that was so jolly and relaxed and ho-ho-ho and joyful, because when I was tempted to give in to the pressure to be perfect in all things, I simply closed the door.

I didn't get it all done. I've got more to do. But right now, I think I'll enjoy this fine evening. The neighbors put a string of colorful lights on their house, and I'd rather gaze at them and dream than fuss over some macaroons.

I ended yesterday with a statement of being blessed. And now I echo that same line, when this harried life could very well put me on the other side of calm.

We are so blessed.

That is it. Everything else can wait. Wishing you a lovely lovely Wednesday night.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

joy in the air

This time of year is often defined best by the word busy. I can see why it is so - for me it usually is so - but making time for the peace of the season is so wonderful.

Last weekend was a flurry of activity. Tom and I did some Christmas shopping for our families starting early Saturday morning. After the bulk of our shopping we perfected our list and made notes of things still to buy over a pitcher of margaritas. And as much as I wanted to continue shopping and just get it done, we stopped after lunch. Tom was starting to get sick, so we rented a movie, went home and lay on the couch. Tom dozed off and on, and I watched the movie and opened a box of wine. (why not?)

Slowing things down for a half day was just what I needed. Christmas - this whole holiday season - is not about bustling through the shopping malls, sitting in traffic, and buying gifts out of obligation. This time of year is about drinking a glass of wine on the couch, watching a movie, catching the twinkle of the Christmas tree out of the corner of your eye. It is about doing something for the people you love - whether that thing comes in a box with a bow or in a kind gesture that you aren't expecting. 

I don't have to tell you this, you already know.

I love this time of year. Yes, I am buying things for the people I love. I am going into stores and looking for just the right thing. I am making extra trips and extra stops and spending more money than I do in a typical month. But amongst all that purchasing and rushing, I am also appreciating the slow moments.

Sewing something special for someone that I love. Planning craft days with my sisters and mother for when we all convene in Maine next week (oooohhhh next week - the idea delights me!). Imagining what it will feel like to watch the snow fall down outside (oh I hope it snows!). Drinking hot tea. Planning to make coconut macaroons with chocolate ganache for coworkers. Getting Christmas cards in the mail from people more dedicated and timely than I.

With most of my gifts purchased, I am left with time to really enjoy the season. I love this time of year, I love this time of year.

Tonight, I spent hours sewing a gift. The smooth feel of the fabric in my fingers, and then the thickness and warmth of that fabric after adding the muslin layer and batting. The little imperfect stitches of love that I put into each little inch. The joy I have just looking at the fabric - so specially chosen for this exact project and this exact person.

And now, sewing machine up, roommate out, dog sleeping at my feet. Now, to drink a beer ever so slowly, to eat a toasted piece of homemade oatmeal bread, to listen to the silence of my house around me. Now, I put down Holidays on Ice (David Sedaris), and I make time to type to you. Surrounded by what I can only describe as a perfect peaceful presence, I implore you to find the same in your own life. After the busy and the hustle and bustle, take a moment to breathe in deep, and enjoy the spirit of the season that is around us.

We are so blessed. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

rain::tuesday in


Oh beautiful, glorious, peaceful rain.

Rain that casts an almost peaceful melancholy over the city. Rain that snarls Atlanta traffic so. Rain that makes Christmas shopping suddenly seem like a bad idea.

Gifts can wait. Craft supplies can wait.

To look out my big window at work and see the Georgia Dome obscured by lashes of falling rain, I know that I need to take the train home, change into my sweatpants, drink some tea, knit a special something, and bake some oatmeal bread.

It is just that kind of night.

Monday, December 5, 2011

taking a stand against procrastination

I am the queen of procrastination. I even procrastinate on the things that I really want to be doing - reading, knitting, cooking. Why? For some reason, unless I have several hours of time dedicated to a specific task, I feel that I don't have enough time to do it. In reality, I have a lot of 20 minute blocks of time when I could read a book, or an hour at home without much to do where I could be knitting.

Perhaps I'm just lazy.

I wouldn't mind being such a procrastinator, except for the fact that there are so many things that I would like to be doing with my time. I have a lot of projects in my mind, and so many things that I want to be. [Which is probably the real reason that I procrastinate. I start many many projects, but don't finish because I get sidetracked with something else.] So I have decided that each month I'll choose a few things to accomplish during that month. Help me direct my thoughts and energies just a wee bit.



To Read: Everything I Want to Do is Illegal: war stories from the local food front.

A friend gave me this book shortly after I moved to Atlanta, and I've been meaning to read it ever since. Government regulations and programs - when intelligently designed and rationally imposed - save lives (medical device standards), provides opportunity (libraries!), and keep life moving smoothly (DOT - though perhaps this one is debatable :). But then there are some regulations that I will never begin to understand. And a lot of those center around the laws that small local farmers must follow. I don't claim to be an expert about - or even have a good grasp on - these regulations, but I'm really fired up about this issue and am excited to read this book. Plus, imagine the looks I'll get from people when they see the title of my book.

To Create: I actually can't list a lot of my projects for this month (since they are Christmas gifts), but there are a few other things I want to complete.

Embroider my pillowcase using this lovely little pattern. It looks simple (though maybe not?), is just the sort of whimsical design that I love, and shouldn't take me too long to complete. I've never embroidered anything before, and this looks like a fine place to start.

Finish the pants that I started for my friend's baby. The pants are actually already done, I just need to hem them and add an elastic waistband.

To Do: Spa Day/DIY Beauty

Laura sent me this link a week ago, and I'm going to try out all three. I already have all of the materials (and I'm sure you do too), and it will be nice to relax and focus on my self for an hour or so.

To Do: Go to Church

I absolutely love my church, and I haven't been in so long that I probably can't say that it is "mine" any longer. But this month I will try to go once.

hmmmm, looks like the sermon this week is about John Stewart and Stephen Colbert. This is the Sunday to go I think!

To Do: Look at Lights

Every year, I tell Tom that I'd like to go look at some lights around Atlanta. This year, I'm putting it on the list! I've heard that some of the best are the Lights of Life at Life University. But perhaps we'll take a little drive to Callaway Gardens for their light display. Of course, if you are in Maine perhaps you should trek to Burnham and see the Burnham Lights. It's a really impressive light show.

To Cook: Bread  **Completed on 12/6/2011

Oh, how I adore homemade bread. Warm and fresh out of the oven, a little butter on top.... This month I'm going to try out this Light Oat Bread Recipe. Read the first comment under the recipe for non-bread machine instructions if you want to try it out too.


Well, there it is! Hopefully this month I'll get something done rather than whiling away my time on Pinterest or Facebook or some other such nonsense....

Fun December Fact: I've decided to drive to Maine with Barley for Christmas again! Let's hope that a blizzard doesn't come in, shut down all major interstates, and strand so many cars that the National Guard has to come in and rescue folks.

Yes, this happened to me two years ago.

Yes, two years is long enough to forget such a horrible event and think that attempting it again is a good idea.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


this was a beautiful marvelous weekend.

and i probably facebooked it to death, so perhaps you already know how things turned out.

also, i have come to realize that i need to start taking pictures, because i don't have visuals for these days. nothing to share with you.

perhaps i will finally bite the bullet and buy this camera. and this lens.

yes, i shall. so that i can take family pictures at Christmas. and engagement pictures for my sister. yes, it is decided. the camera will be here soon, i hope.

but back to this weekend.....

we bought a Christmas tree. too early in the season for me, but just right for us.

we decorated the tree, and hung a little string of lights around the front porch.

tom baked cookies.

we had a bottle of wine, and food inspired by Julia Child.

i made a tissue holder in my beginner's sewing class. and picked out fabric for our project next week.

i bought yet another book on sewing baby clothes.

i've been thinking about losing a bit of weight and toning my muscles. i bought this dvd.* i was really doing well until i realized that i don't really care about losing weight or looking like i belong in a workout video. i will still run, and will try to increase my situps and pushups for my annual physical fitness test. but beyond that, my love of eating, drinking beer, and trying new food all outweigh my need to look good in a bikini.

*this dvd is fantastic. i highly recommend it if you are trying to whip yourself into shape. jillian will kick your butt.

for those of you out there who have a boyfriend that is dying for a homemade tree skirt for his tree, here is a tree skirt pattern from Amy Butler that you might enjoy.

certainly i cannot be the only one whose boyfriend has been coveting a homemade tree skirt...... i better get sewing!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ness is Everything

Shortly before Tom and I met, I watched You, Me and Dupree. It's a cute movie, but not one I'd go over the top in my praise for, and certainly not one that I'm recommending that everyone watch.

However, the movie held a key theme that I continuously go back to when I'm having a rough time. I won't describe the entire plot, but basically one of the characters (Carl) is in a slump. He can't really find his mojo, his relationships are struggling, and he just isn't in the groove. Owen Wilson's character tells him that he has lost his "-Ness", and that he needs to reconnect with his Carl-ness to improve things with his job, his wife, his life.

I love the idea of giving a name to your inner self, your essence, that spark that makes you you. And so often since then I have reminded myself to reconnect with my ness.

When Tom and I met, I was entering my last semester of grad school. I was stressed about my thesis, about finding a job after graduation, about deciding what to do with my life. I was bogged down in my small and personal struggles, and had most definitely lost my Dana-ness.

On one chilly day, just a month or so after we met, we hiked Kennesaw Mountain together. Near the top, we sat on a little rock overlooking the entire valley. We talked about ourselves and our families, and it was one of our first conversations that really went beyond the initial "getting to know you" phase of the relationship. In the midst of what must have been a woe-is-me speech about my thesis and grad school angst, Tom said simply that I just needed to find my -ness.

The suggestion made me stop short, made me forget my troubles, made me smile.

Let's be honest - You, Me and Dupree isn't really one of those movies that will go down in history as a "must-watch". It certainly isn't a quotable movie that carved itself a niche in US pop culture. In fact, you probably haven't thought much of the movie since it came out. To write this post, I actually had to search google and wikipedia to remember which movie "-ness" even came from.

So when Tom - the Tom I didn't even know yet - told me I needed to find my -ness, when he said exactly  the right thing that made me stop short and redirect my thoughts, I knew. I knew this guy might just be a keeper. Suddenly our conversation was transformed from negative to positive. Rather than talking about the negatives in our life, we each began to talk about our own -ness. He learned about my Dana-ness, and I learned about his Tom-ness.

Every time we walk past that spot, we remember that time almost three years (three years!!) ago. We always mention it. "Here is where we talked about our ness." "Remember that day...."

Somehow a really stellar 2009 and 2010 turned into a really shitty 2011. One for the record books. I haven't been myself, and I have felt lost, confused, broken, and sad. I have lost my ness. Starting today, right now, I am going to find it and bring it back. Rather than focusing on external circumstances - both the good and the bad - I am going to focus on my internal Dana.

Because after all, the things I want are not things at all. The things I want are already here - love, peace, security, happiness. I just have to remove the clutter and bring them to the surface.

This December, this month of purchasing and buying and making haste and rushing, I am going to slow down, take a deep breath, and live my life. Rather than worry about tomorrow, I am going to love the very moment. This moment. This one right here.

Wishing you the very best day, and hoping that your own -ness is quite intact and is guiding you on your path.

Friday, November 11, 2011


1. PaperBack Swap
Have y'all heard about PaperBack Swap? Just heard about it a few weeks ago and it has Here's how it works: Upload books you want to get rid of, get a notification that someone wants your book, mail it to that person, and recieve a credit to request a book from someone else!

So far I have sent out about six books that I didn't want anymore, and am waiting on my first book to come to me. It is absolutely free (though you do pay the shipping for any books you send out). Best part: you can get rid of books that are taking up space in your house.

2. Anne Rice
First off, let me say that I really haven't bought into the whole Twilight/Vampire/Edward vs. whats-his-name thing. I read the first book and didn't see what the fuss was about, and I consider Anne Rice to be the real champion of this genre.

I read Interview with a Vampire about ten years ago, and was immediately swept up in her writing. I have no idea why I didn't continue on in the series, but plan on remedy-ing that now. My first PaperBack Swap request was actually a book that includes the first three books in the Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and Queen of the Damned). Can't wait!!! (And since I don't remember much of IwtT, I'll reread it too.)

3. Barbara Vine (errr Ruth Rendell)
Barbara Vine is amazing. As is Ruth Rendell. They are the same person - Barbara Vine is a pseudonym that Ruth Rendell uses, and she is a British mystery writer.

I don't like horror and I don't like gore. But I loooovvveee a good mystery. BV (RR) surely delivers. Here is the thing that sets her apart. Throughout the entire novel, you know who the murderer is, but you don't know who the victim is or how they were killed.

Mind: blown.

The first time you read a book like this it kind of rocks your world. The first book I read by her (and still my favorite of hers) is A Fatal Inversion. I might read it again myself.

I just finished House of Stairs by Barbara Vine. I really liked it, but still prefer A Fatal Inversion.

One note: I am never pulled immediately into her novels - unable to put the book down. Rather, it is like a whirlpool, where in the beginning you are far on the outside, barely unaware that you are spinning, and as you continue reading you spin faster and faster until you are unable to put the book down. That always happens when I read her books, when I begin to know her characters, so if you
aren't pulled in within the first 20 pages don't despair.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Quite Right Nite

Sometimes things just click don't they?

I looked up from what I was doing just now and realized that I was indeed quite happy.

Not ecstatic.

Not melancholy.

Somewhere in between. That comfortable space where who you are melds seamlessly with where you are and what you are doing.

I'm not one to ignore such occasions. I'll note these little details, and if I ever find myself on the melancholy side of the line I'll know where to come to.


Drinking wine.

Listening to my Adele station on Pandora.

Windows open.

Rain drizzling outside.

As frustrating as I thought doing my first sewing project would be (don't worry, a post will follow as soon as I am finished), instead I am realizing how peaceful this activity is. I've been sipping on the same glass of wine for an hour or two now, and it is a lovely wine that my friend Christina gave me when she came to visit last weekend.

Nothing fancy here, just a simple evening creating and relaxing and hanging with my pup.

These little days add up to something lovely, don't they?


Monday, October 17, 2011

Ellijay Apple Festival - 2011

Yesterday we got up early and made the drive up to North Georgia for the Ellijay Apple Festival. You may remember that we did the same thing way back in 2010.

We had fun again this year, even though we didn't try out the corn maze, and even though they didn't have the farm animals (lame! this is by far my favorite section of any fair). In fact, I almost don't need to give you a recap of Apples 2011, since it was so similar to Apples 2010. Except with better hair and without the cute jeans (they got an unmendable tear earlier this year - sniffle).


Yesterday was the perfect fall day - crisp cool morning, lazy drive into North Georgia, slowly changing leaves.... and then the mercury rose to 80 degrees. Sigh, I can't for a moment pretend that I am in New England with these balmy temperatures.

We had a lot of fun eating fried apple pies (Tom), people watching (me), choosing the perfect pumpkin (Tom), getting a New Orleans Sno Ball (me - woot! <-- anyone else love these things?), and eating fried pickles (both of us).

Yes, I know I need to moisturize. Srsly.

Handsome man and fried apple pie
Chainsaw Art in the works

I don't know what this is...but it makes me wish I was 5

Mango Sno Ball - Not as good as NOLA, but close

20 minutes picking out a pumpkin (and asking the attendant for advice)

On the way home we looked at leaves (naturally) and grilled out at a nearby state park. The second half of this post shall henceforth be referred to as: "Burgers, Bananagrams, and Beer"

 I would like to point out that I won our game of Bananagrams:

And that Tom lost:

But it was a close match. Playing Bananagrams in the middle of the woods, next to a river, drinking a beer, waiting for your burger* to be done, is amazing. We were both so quiet focusing on our game, and the peace just kind of settled in around us.

*These weren't ordinary burgers - these were Jalapeno Cream Cheese Burgers. And if you've never made them, you are missing out.

Warm weather, full bellies, fun game, Sunday by the river. Yup, the day was good. The day was mighty, mighty good.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friends, Meet My Dog

It has been said that your dog's mannerisms and character traits can tell you a lot about yourself.

Perhaps that just means that people give themselves license to judge you based on what type of dog you own. Do your judgements vary for a Saint Bernard owner and a Chihuahua owner? Maybe, maybe not.

But I digress.

If people are judging me based on my dog....

Or, if this dog should be telling me a lot about myself...

Then I am one scared individual. Afraid of the unknown and ready to tuck my tail and run.

When I saw this video over at coldantlerfarm, I realized I never shared my own videos of Barley the Fearful. Taken from our recent trip to Cedar Key, FL.

You can laugh at my dog. I don't mind.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Home Day

Whoever planned the 2011 Calendar must have known that I would need a day off today. I won't thank Columbus - he gets too much credit as it is. (Check out the Columbus Day someecards for a little hilarity.)

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Either that, or the wrong side of the bed found me. Luckily, I am being cheered by these things:



1. Coffee. Usually I put cinnamon in my coffee. As it turns out, nutmeg is equally as delicious. Yum!

2. A book. Have you read anything by Michael Chabon? I literally just started the book, so I can't give a recommendation just yet (he won the Pulitzer for The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay).

3. Comfort. Today I took a shower and then put my pajamas back on. I almost never do that because it tends to make me lazy, but today it is just right.

4. Rainy Day, Slowly Changing Leaves. It's pretty out there with a steady drizzle of rain. A couple of trees are showing their true colors, but for the most part everything is still green.

5. Music. Listening to my Edward Sharpe music station on Pandora today.

Bonus: A dear friend of mine had a baby girl today. Can't wait to meet the little love, and am newly inspired to buy a sewing machine and make some mini baby clothes.

Hope you are having a truly wonderful Monday, whether you are "celebrating" Columbus Day or not.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

two weekends away

When it rains it pours, right? Well it's been raining vacation over here, and I'm finally at home hanging with the pup and cleaning my house. Let's do a recap, shall we?

First weekend vacation: Beachin' It

Two weekends ago Tom and I went to Cedar Key, FL. It was awesome, and we even got a new family photo.

Why the smiles? (seriously, even the dog is smiling.) As it turns out, renting a golf cart to drive from your decaying vacation trailer into town is gigantically entertaining. So fun! Really, we had an amazing time. We got our fill of fishing, drinking, boat riding, golf cart driving, football watching, relaxing, and reading.

An Aside: A Book to Read

Speaking of reading, I finished Hunger Games. It was amazing. I'm not going to tell you anything else about it, but you have to read it. I will prepare you for this fact though: the second book in the trilogy (Catching Fire) isn't out in paperback yet. Boo. And if your library is anything like mine, the wait on the book is so long you'll have forgotten the first one before you get to read the second. But still, read it. You must.

Second Weekend Vacation: I Thought About Wearing Flowers in My Hair

Last weekend I went to visit my sister and her Super Awesome Boyfriend Romey. They are amazi-cakes, and we had a great time. Seriously, how cute are these two?

San Fran was unreal. We had so much fun, and I can't believe we packed it all into 3 days. We saw Robert Earl Keen, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Chris Isaak, etc. We had great tapas at Cha Cha Cha, great Italian at the Stinking Rose, had a great taco at.... a great taco restaurant that Romey knew about. We saw the redwoods at Muir Woods, walked all over the dang city, saw the manager of the San Francisco Giants (Bruce Bochy) as we walked by the stadium. Ok, I admit, I had no idea who Bruce Bochy was until Romey pointed him out and then talked to him, but it's still cool right?

But do you know what was better than seeing a famous baseball person? Or famous musicians? Or eating amazing food? What was better than seeing the redwoods (bucket list - check!), walking around town and sipping coffee in the mornings? Eating Laura's enchiladas with a pumpkin beer in her tiny apartment? What was better than falling asleep to a movie every night because I was still on east coast time and couldn't stay awake?

Sister time.

Oh, how wonderful is sister time? How wonderful is talking to that person who knows what you're thinking before you say it, who shares your entire past, and who you never have to explain yourself to? I have had Laura by my side since I was 19 months 29 days old. And even though we had our share of fights in the way-back-olden-days, I'm pretty sure she's the bees knees. I love this lady.

Classy Robisons drink Tecates
There's no one who gets you like a sister does. I really lucked out in that arena - I've got two. And even though Laura, Lisa and I are spread pretty far in distance (Maine, California, Georgia), there's nothing that will keep me from those ladies for too long. Without them, I lose a part of myself.

Thank you Laura for hosting me and reminding me of who I am.

Thank you Tom for scoring last-minute Florida vacation rentals and for reminding me that fun exists everywhere. (And for reminding me that it is never a good idea to keep up with you when we're drinking.)

Thank you Romey for making me laugh and for keeping Laura safe from all of the crazy Oakland stories I'm always reading in the news. And for driving me everywhere - seriously.

Yup, September was a fine month.

And with Ellijay Apple Festival, a friend visit, and changing leaves on the horizon, October seems to be shaping up pretty nicely too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vacation, Part 2


Good news y'all!!! We got the place we were hoping for (mentioned in this post)!!!

Tom is quite the bargain shopper, and he managed to score us a pretty sweet deal. Tom talked to Jeni (property manager we are renting from) for quite some time tonight - turns out they know a lot of the same people (Captain Lloyd being one of them).

Here are Jeni's Very Important Vacation Notes:

  1. Bring our own coffee
  2. Brian's Big Deck Raw Bar is where we need to go
  3. Darlene picks out the music (neither of us can quite figure this one out)
  4. Bring cash or check, no plastic accepted in Cedar Key (really?)
  5. Jeni is an early sleeper and an early riser, so we need to be there before 10 tomorrow night. Not sure if we can muscle our way through Friday rush hour traffic that quickly, but we'll try!

So - it's on!!! Psyched, and ready to explore this little nook of Florida.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend.

Last Minute Vacation

So thankful for the pouring rain outside, because even though we aren't as bad off as Texas, we sure did need some rain.

I'm also very thankful that the rain decided to hold off until after I got home. This morning I walked 1.8 miles to the train station and took the train to work, which means that I also had to walk 1.8 miles home, and it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun in the rain.

So here we sit, Barley and I, enjoying the pitter patter on the roof and the noise the rain makes as it courses through the gutters. Windows and doors open, candles lit, and it's starting to feel cozy as can be.

I'm about to dive back in to Hunger Games (only a few pages in but loving it!), but first I ought to pack for vacation.

What's that? Vacation?


Tom has a long weekend off (his last one until January), and he ignored my pleas that we just relax here at home. He insists that we go somewhere special. He's right, of course. A little road trip sounds perfect right about now.

Here's how it all went down:

A month ago: Tom finds out he has a long weekend off, and we consider doing something. We decide we have an entire month to think about it.
Tuesday (9/20): Yeah, we should really do something this weekend....
Wednesday (9/21): Maybe Cedar Key, FL? Maybe St. Mary's, GA? Maybe Disney? Maybe a mountain cabin in north Georgia?
Thursday (9/22) - aka present day: We've narrowed it down to two different places in Cedar Key, GA. We're just trying to score the best deal.....

And yes, this does mean that we are leaving for vacation tomorrow and still have no idea where we're going. Which is a-ok with me. I love spur of the moment vacations. And in all actuality, we would have had a much more solid plan days ago if we weren't bringing Barley. But that gal is coming with us, so we had to find lodging that would accept her like we do.

Here is what the Cedar Key tourism board has to say for itself:
As you leave the Florida mainland, rich Gulf waters reflecting blue skies beckon you as birds float like petals over the marsh vista. Welcome to our island, a place where time stands still and allows you to enjoy the unique qualities of our coastal environment. Cedar Key is a quiet island community nestled among many tiny keys on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Long admired for its natural beauty and abundant supply of seafood, it is a tranquil village, rich with the almost forgotten history of old Florida.
Nooooowwww you're jealous, right? I mean, who doesn't want to see birds float like petals over a marsh? This girl sure does.

Here is what Tom's dad says of Cedar Key (they have done many a father-son fishing trip there):

"Dana, a different breed of character hangs around Cedar Key!"

I'll take it!

And I just can't pass up one more quote from here:
Cedar Key is not your average Florida destination – Cedar Key is “old Florida” or “original Florida” or better yet, “before Disney” Florida. Quaint streets lined with shops, friendly people, real food, funky art, and peaceful relaxation. Cedar Key is a clamming, fishing, and artist village with a tourist trade. It’s not uncommon to see a sign in the window of a shop that says “Gone Fishin” during business hours and they really mean it. If you need a chain store, a mall, or traffic light fix to make the day ok for you – don’t come to Cedar Key!
The house we are crossing our fingers for is actually a trailer, has its own private dock on the canal, a ginormous porch, and a fish cleaning station. I'll give you a sample preview:

View from private dock!


Well, all. I'm off to read Hunger Games. I think I may even have a little glass of red wine while I'm at it.

Dinner (too simple, easy and delish not to share):
  1. Cook up some orzo
  2. Drain
  3. Add spinach, goat cheese, cranberries, pine nuts (or pumpkin seeds, which is what I used), dried basil, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar
  4. Mix
  5. Chill in fridge and eat cold

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

the perfect partner to an overwhelming work project

A few years ago, I would have preached to you about "work life balance" and "keeping work at work" in a very authoritarian tone. I would have looked down my nose at someone who would dare work at the dinner table. But now I say phooey.*

And I will tell you why.

My work overwhelms me. Sometimes it feels too big for little ol me.
I go to work and dream of the day when this Really Big Project will be over.
My cubicle suffocates me. Just a little bit.
I've actually had nightmares about said Really Big Project. (don't judge)

But then.....

I discovered working at home.
At night.
With the windows open.
Breeze flowing in.
My pup by my side.
Typing away about chemicals and health and Making Things Right.
Glass of wine.
Maybe another.

And even though I'm working at home.
Even though I said I never would.
This feels like work life balance to me.
This feels just right.

Counting my blessings for a stable job. A good job. A great boss. Healthy arms and legs to take me there. And a glass of wine at the end of the day - the perfect partner to this writer here.

*But dang if you're working instead of playing with your kids then shame on you! I'm just an old maid with a dog who's got no one relying on her. And I sure as shoot don't work on vacation!

Monday, September 19, 2011

well deserved feasts

What a long week! Work, long walks to the dog park in the evenings, night yoga, morning yoga, driving to work, riding the train to work.....

And now the weekend. Time to breathe, relax, and... eat!

I skipped a few meals this week due to an empty fridge and a busy schedule, which is an entirely non-Dana happening. I usually add meals to the day, not take them away.

But what are Saturdays for, if not to make up for what you missed during the week?

Started the day by waking up at 6:45am and made my way north of the city. Tom and I went to Douceur De France in Marietta, an absolutely yummy little French place. We both got the Panini Salmon (2 poached eggs served on smoked salmon, fresh tomato and Hollandaise sauce), which came with hashbrowns "a la Francaise."

Of course there was no way that we could leave without picking something up from the amazing bakery section.

I die.

What did we choose?

Tiramasu, naturally.

This tiramasu is moist, delicate, and flavorful. I'm glad we only got one piece to share, and I'm glad that I don't have the patience to bake desserts.

Next up: Marietta Square Farmers Market, which also happened to coincide this week with the Hubcaps and History Marietta Classic Car Show and the Trash or Treasure Show.

This is my dream car. Mostly because of the color, but also because I can imagine myself driving with the top down, hair blowing in the breeze. You know, like this:

Image from here
From the market: 1/2 pound of arugula, chevre, 5 bars of Nature's Garden homemade soap, a jar of Fig Pine Nut jam from Emily G's Jam of Love and this:

Oh my goodness, I hope the intended recipient is not reading the blog right now, but I have to share how cute this is. Love it. Want your own? Head over to see Claire Dunaway. Uh-oh, just realized she specializes in dog portraits. Maybe Barley needs her own portrait? Nah, I guess we can probably wait awhile on that one.

When we got home we made some Fig-Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula. I have been d.y.i.n.g to make this pizza since I saw it, and used the fig jam and arugula from the farmers market to make it. The fig jam caramelized on the crust, and the mozzarella cheese melted and got brown on top. Oh - heavens yes! After a mini-fiasco that involved melting cheese and fig preserves burning on the bottom of the stove (good excuse to open the doors!), I pulled the pizza out of the oven and added prosciutto, arugula and parmesan. Threw it back in the (turned off) oven and let it all get melty and soft for about a minute.

Thumbs up from me. And thumbs up from Tom too.

Even though I haven't been around my garden for a couple months and had given it up for dead, I ventured to the backyard to check it out. Looky looky! Amid the aphid-infested tomatoes and lackluster oregano, I found some carrots and three tomatoes! Not a good return on the time and money I invested in this garden, but the good outweighs the bad overall.

I never thinned my carrots, which is why they are so squat and little. I'll take them though.

I don't have television in my new house, so I'm spending some time watching football and America's Next Top Model at Tom's while I finish up a long-overdue knitting project.

Knitting, football, and really good food. Not a bad day. No, not at all.

May have had a mimosa.

Or two.

Saturdays. Yes, Saturdays.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Steps to Happiness on a Fall Day:

1. Purchase Trader Joes Spiced Cider*
2. Pour into a microwave safe mug
3. Microwave until nice and hot
4. Sip, preferably whilst sitting outside on your screen porch, reading a good book

Fall is finally here. And even though I try to savor all seasons, I've got a special little place in my heart for autumn. That special little place gets larger and larger for every Georgia summer that I suffer through.

The air this evening is chilly, but I keep the door between the kitchen and the screen porch open to let the fresh air in. I sit outside on the porch, and just because I can, wear a sweatshirt with my bare feet.** Feels lovely around here.

And finally I allow myself to open the bottle of spiced cider that has been sitting in the back of my closet since last fall. Have you tried this? If not, head to Trader Joes and buy a bottle. Maybe two bottles! I bought two bottles last year and only drank one, so I saved my second bottle for this fall because drinking spiced cider in the summer is probably against the Constitution or at least the code of normal behavior. So on second thought, better only buy one.

The battery in my camera is currently dead, so I scrolled the internets to get a suitable replacement. From here
I think Trader Joes actually sells this cider year-round, but I pretend that they only sell it when the air feels chilly. If I'm feeling spring-y or summer-y, I walk past the cider spot with eyes averted. If it is fall or winter - but mostly just fall - I notice the spiced cider on the shelves enthusiastically and get all excited that they've "brought out the seasonal stuff." Yes, I play games with myself to increase my happiness.

Homemade cider is probably infinitely better than this cider. At least, it could be better. Actually, I am pretty sure that this cider is just as good as homemade cider. Either way, I have this cider - and not homemade cider - so this is the cider that I drank this evening, when the temperature dipped and the sun set and I said thank you to this beautiful world.

Good night

Good night

Good night

*Heck no this isn't a paid endorsement! Or even an unpaid endorsement! Trader Joes doesn't even know who I am! Although sometimes I think they do when they are all friendly and chatty, asking me "Are you sure you only want one case of that two-buck Chuck?"

**I should clarify that my feet were not wearing the sweatshirt, but that I was wearing a sweatshirt while also having bare feet. I don't like ambiguous sentences, but at the same time like for sentences to flow in a specific way. It was difficult for me to get both in that sentence, so I gave up ambiguity in order to get the precise flow.***

***In which I demonstrate how anal I am when I write.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

a good day

So lovely to be back home finally!

Also lovely: my first day home happened to be my 29th birthday. That's right: countdown to 30 has officially begun.

In the morning I bought my ice cream maker and tidied my house (post on ice-cream making is sure to come). In the afternoon I made some strawberry daiquiris for Tom and I, and we drank them on my porch.

We then took Marta downtown and visited the World of Coke, and on the way home got some Mexican food.

Tom captures a photo of me just as the train arrives

Chillin at the World of Coke
It was a low-key day, and was just right..... Here's to another great year!
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