Thursday, December 10, 2009

We Are Family

This post is a change of pace for me. Don't think I'm getting lazy about blogging, but among the Christmas gift making, Christmas gift wrapping and Christmas party attending (No, actually, I think shopping would be a more appropriate label for this...) among my normal endeavors in the Real World, I have been quite busy (and my apartment looks like Katrina hit it). I was sitting in my office today and ran across a website thanks to my friend J.; it's so awesome that I wanted to share it with all four of my readers. I hope it brings tears to your eyes like it did mine. Here it is...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Down On Penny's Farm"

Since I decided to take a hiatus from this blog, I have decided to document my whereabouts in segments. Last week while I was home for Thanksgiving, I headed down to Dad's and my brother Bran's farm to check out the new happenings. Here is what it looks like when you first drive in:
I said I went down to Dad and Bran's farm, but really, I should call it Penny's farm. Penny is my dad's Red Heeler, whose nicknames include "Pinks," and more commonly, "Pinky." I called her Penny Lane when she was a puppy, but it didn't really stick, but Penny is a good name for her; I'm sure you can guess why in the below photo. She's the queen bee around there.
This is Pinky. She's so sweet.
Here's the corn silage that they grew earlier this year and feed to the cattle along with some farm equipment I can't name:
This new cattle trailer is the new project at the farm. The boys have been cleaning it out (I can't imagine the stench) and getting it ready for hauling:
Here's a picture of Pinky doing what she does best, rounding up cattle for Dad. Those are the two calves that Peanut is raising, and she brought them right into their pin in the barn, not far from where I was standing when I took this picture.
And last but not least, there were some wild cats that hang out in the barn (along with a couple of Great Pyrenees: Butch and Patch). One of them is pretty tame, though; I was painting a gate this past summer and she was a little too friendly with me and the gate. She rubbed black paint all over herself (and me). There's probably still cat hair stuck to the gate. When I asked Bran what her name was, he said he just calls her "Cat." And it's proven, she responds to Cat. I love it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

How You Remind Me

Everybody's heard the Nickelback song "How You Remind Me;" I'm going on this assumption, at least. I was in 9th grade when that song became popular at Lebanon High School, and there was always someone blaring "Never made it as a wise man, I couldn't cut it as a poor man stealin'....." in the student parking lot when Bran and I would drive to our respective parking spot in Big D. I form all kinds of associations with songs and events, it's just kind of how my mind works, and this song always always always reminds me of LHS football season. I went to all the games, painted my face red, white and black, wore ribbons in my hair, made tee shirts, you name it, I was as school-spirited as you could get without wearing glitter or being a cheerleader (I always wanted to be one when I was a little girl, but something in me just couldn't quite do it when I got to high school...wait, I can't remember if I did or didn't wear glitter.). Anyways, I went to LHS's homecomings game my first year of college, and that was the last time I'd been...until two weekends ago. I went to see a playoff game with my aunt and uncle and their famdamily (Morg, or Skillet as Dad calls him, plays JV) at our home field. I hadn't been to a game in 4 years, and it was so fun and awesome. Here are some pictures from the game.
"Skillet" is #87
Proud dad and little brother
And the fine gentleman in the black shirt is Doc. Doc has been a coach for LHS's football team since I can remember being in school. Some things never change. He's awesome.
And here's the famdamily minus one member...Ace, you know who you are.
When I go back to Lebanon, people always tell me how grown up I look and that they remember me when I was "this tall" (including the hand gesture that would make me 4'6"), and it's kind of difficult searching for the right response. Do you say, "Oh really? [long pause] Awesome...." It's always kind of awkward. What are you supposed to say to things like that? Yeaaaah, but seriously, my cousin Morg has really grown up, but then again, I'm not that tall. It was a great day for a football game.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

Remember when you were a little kid in the 5 ft section of the swimming pool? You used to have to hoist yourself out of the pool because there was never a ladder near by (and it was way over your head). Well, when I was in Boulder in the summer of '08, that's how my bed was.....too tall and no ladder. I used to have to jump really high to get in bed, but I was so tired at the end of the day that it was very laborious. And then when I got out of the bed in the morning, I always expected to put my feet right onto the floor, but no, you had to slither off the bed and hit the cold tile floor with a thump on the bare feet. And it always stung and tingled badly when I did that. Sometimes when I get out of bed now and I feel that achy, tingly feeling, it always makes me think of when I lived in Boulder for 1.5 months. Great memories, best summer of my life. I don't think I've ever walked as much as I did that summer.
This was the view outside my window: Chautauqua Mountain, part of the Boulder Flatirons....Boulder's in the foothills of the Rockies: Here is a dear friend I made while in Boulder. We are standing next to a Glacial Lake at Pike's Peak: We went to Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, CO also. Here's a little "lake" (looked more like a pond to me) that we found called Cub Lake. The funniest part about this is that we didn't know what it was while we were there, but I was in a gift shop in Estes Park later and saw a post card that looked like this, minus me and my bra strap sitting in front of it (and it showed more of the actual "lake"):
I realize that this post may lend itself to nostalgia, but I'm enjoying the memories while writing. I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains, and if you don't already know or haven't heard, they're totally amazing. People forewarned me about the beauty of Colorado, and coincidentally, they all said the same thing, "It's a different beauty out there." I didn't know what that meant until I got there. It really is gorgeous; however, I was glad to come back home to Virginia after a month and a half. I had missed it. Two of my closest friends that I met and worked with in Boulder, J. and S., who I hope will continue to be lifelong friends, came to visit me in Charlottesville last year. We had a great visit, and I took them to see some real beauty up on Skyline Drive:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why)

When I wake up in the morning, I always like to hit the 10 minute snooze button....more than once. And as a result, I end up scurrying around my apartment, trying to put on heels, eat breakfast, and brush my teeth at the same time. Oh, and I have to wash whatever dishes I use because the ants will come out to play if I don't, and that means the centipedes will come out to eat the ants (always at 5:20 when I get home). I guess I could just go to bed 20 minutes earlier the night before and actually wake up when I intend to, but where would the fun be in that? My goal is to leave at 8:45, as I have to be at work at 9:00, and timing is very tedious with the morning traffic. Here's why: Everybody wants to leave at 8:45, so if you actually do get out the door then, you'll be sitting in traffic with all the other people who are presumably "on time," and you'll actually walk in the door a minute past 9:00 because this time slot is classified as the "rush hour." If you leave at 8:50 because you were trying to leave at 8:45, you're just out of luck; 8:50 is the 8:45 has-been. What I mean is, you're not walking into the office before 9:05, which makes for a bad impression on the boss. So if you ever want to cut driving time, here are a few tips: when sitting at a stoplight, try to find something in your bag or open a tube of lip gloss, because by gosh, as soon as you do that, the red light will turn green every time. Can I get an amen? If you wear glasses, take them off to get a shiny clean luster on the lenses, and there you have it, that light will turn green faster than a New York minute. Put the car in Park, do some arm stretches to get your day going, only if you're in a hurry though (because it doesn't work if you're actually on time), and you'll be to work before you know it. The funniest thing about the 8:45 Has-Been (8:50), is that if you just wait 3 minutes and leave your house at 8:53, there's virtually no traffic. It's utterly amazing. How does a mile long car line cease to exist in 3 minutes? Forget leaving early; live life in the fast lane.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I took this picture outside of World Market this past weekend; it was such an inspiring tree. I am really into green and yellow together right now; I think there's something very striking about the combination. I'm really bad with tree names, and I wish that I knew how to identify all of them by their leaves (besides maples and oaks), but don't know what the official name for this little tike is, but I think it's quite lovely. When I think of the personification of trees (not that this is a normality for me or anything), it's slightly comical to me that I always want to give them female names. I guess I was just highly influenced by The Giving Tree and the mother willow in Disney's Pochahontas....Anyways, if I were to name this tree, her name would be Lola.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Can't Buy Me Love

...But you can check out my Etsy site and buy something from there! I'm going to be adding more items, but it takes me a while to upload the stuff. I ambitiously started my Etsy shop a couple months ago, and what do you know, I just posted some things today. For those of you who don't know about Etsy, it's worth your time to surf around on there; Christmas is coming up, you know... As far as my shop goes, there's more to come, but until then, hop unto Etsy and check the site out in general. I think people under-estimate handmade items; why would you want to buy a pair of earrings from a department store that aren't even made with precious metals or gemstones when you could get something handmade with quality materials for an equal or lesser amount? Starving artist or not, I will never stop creating.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Very Merry Unbirthday to You

I went back to Lebanon for my birthday weekend, and if any of you know my Mom's side of the family, you know that a birthday is incomplete without a birthday bash. Needless to say, Mom threw a fantabulous birthday party in my honor last Saturday, and it was awesome. Due to my being away at college, I haven't had a birthday party like this since 2004 and I had a ball!

Here are the leaves changing on Clinch Mountain...

And here is just a glimpse of the yummies that Mom made for the fiesta (also there was a homemade chocolate log cake with vanilla ice cream rolled up inside, topped with homemade fudge sauce):

Little slice of Heaven in this one: my little cousin T. He's so sweet and gave me a ginormous birthday hug:

Like me, Tristo also loves rain boots. I think he must've inherited that gene from me. He had a hard time standing still for a picture...

Here's a photographing tip that my newly engaged friend J. shared with me (I'll let the picture below act as evidence): When taking a group picture (or anyone's picture): 1. Have everyone smile 2. Tell everyone to say "Yes" 3. Snap the picture right after they say "yes" If you follow these steps correctly, your pictures will actually look somewhat like you had anticipated and you'll want to give J. a big hug for sharing this insight. Thanks, J.!

Big hugs to Mom for throwing the best birthday party ever:

One of my favorite songs ever is called "All This Beauty" by The Weepies. These are my fav. lyrics: "...But let me assure you friend, every day is ice cream and chocolate cake..." And my weekend was ice cream and chocolate cake=pure wonderful.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Story

I just finished reading Donald Miller's new book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years; I burned through it so fast that I almost forgot what happens in the book (Here is an excerpt). If you don't know anything about Donald Miller, you have to start with his hit book Blue Like Jazz and go from there. He's written some other books, and I even tried to read on of them, but I just couldn't get through it; I really tried but I couldn't even force the words into my eyes. His newest book, though, is remarkable, I recommend it to everyone. He talks about the concept of story all throughout the book; he tells stories about writing his own life story, and I can really identify with that, unlike the paving escrow agreement I just glanced at for a real estate closing. What does it take to make a story great? How do you live a great story?
My life story has been told by all the tiny pepperings of small (and not so small) events. Hasn't everyone's? Family birthday parties.....let's see, I had a 1950s theme-party in 4th grade where everybody had to wear poodle skirts and white tee shirts with cigarette packs rolled up in the sleeves; I had Hawaiian-themed party another year.....One time at LCF's dance team practice, I was so delirious with practicing the song that I started doing the breast stroke (and the back stroke shortly thereafter) on the stage to Sara Groves' song "Come Be Who You Are"--there' s a river in it (Guess you just had to be there)... One time Bets and I were on a road trip from Lebanon to Williamsburg and back, and I was driving (and was really tired, plus the fact that we'd been in the car together for way too long) and I tried to open a bottle of water while driving. Big mistake. When I opened the bottle, the cap fell in between the car door and the seat, and I started freaking out saying, "Well, that's awesome, I'm going to have to pour my water out now," etc. and other crazies like that.....It's really funny now, but Bets got mad at me and said, "You're not throwing the water away, I'll hold it, just give it to me! Just give it over here!" One time in college I was supposed to read a book and then ask discussion questions about it in an email to my professor (for a class called "Buddhism in East Asian Societies"), and well, you guessed it, I read the wrong book....the whole thing. The good thing is that my questions were so vague that my teacher gave me a B for them, so I think I fared pretty well considering the circumstances. When I was growing up, we had this humongo snow that left us without electricity for a few days, and Mom and Dad said we should just go to bed because it was so dark and we didn't have any light. I got so mad that I worked myself up into a frenzy and said, "I ain't goin' to no bed at no seven o'clock!" My family has definitely not forgotten that one. We all have great stories, but sometimes I let myself think that I'm not living a good story, but when I retell the stories, my hope is revived and I am reminded that life isn't a bundled up package with a red ribbon on top like the stories in movies. One of my major life goals was about going through elementary, middle and high school and going to college to get a degree. Well now that I've done this, I feel like I need another goal and I don't quite know what it is yet. So I don't feel like I'm living a meaningless life, it's just more different now than ever, and I know that God'll teach me to be patient in this transitional period of my life. Anyways, I felt really inspired by Don Miller's book because he emphasizes that you just really have to get out there and actually live your life rather than planning for your life that's getting ready start, like, after you get married or find the right job or move to the right town, etc. Thank you, Donald Miller.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I got to go home this weekend; it was great. Every time I go home to Lebanon I understand the old adage, "Home is where the heart is." For some reason I've been thinking that was an old wives' tale all this time, but, I see it all a little too clearly. The Clinch Mountains' trees are starting to change, the weather was so icky, but it was so gorgeous.
Here's some fog on the Clinch Mountains, with some bulls in the hayfield. Nothing on earth like Green Valley:
Also, each time that I go to Lebanon for the weekend, I always go to.....wait for it, wait for it......Wal*Mart. I know, I've really been meaning to watch that movie The High Cost of Low Prices but I just can't bring myself to do it. Why would I buy my Claritin at CVS for 20 million dollars when I know it only costs $4.72 for a month's supply box at Wally World? It's this sick cycle that I just can't get out of. So anyways, I was gallivanting around in the Lebanon Wally World, running into everybody I know (because well, that's just how it is in Lebanon) when I found myself standing in a gargantuan checkout line. Long lines don't really bother me, and here's why: I'm getting ready to admit something and make myself feel all vulnerable inside, but here goes. There's this section in grocery/superstore checkout lines that I learned about in Mrs. Fletcher's Foods and Nutrition class at good ole LHS called "The Impulse Buy Section," and in that section, there is a plethora of all the things you think you might possibly need if you ever found yourself stranded out in the middle of nowhere and just happened to be wearing a fanny pack filled with all the contents of "The Impulse Buy Section." 6 different flavored Chapsticks for all those freezing winds (you'll be licking your lips so much while stranded that your lips will practically start flaking off), Neo-to-Go for if you scratch your leg on the bleachers at the football game, Tic Tacs (for checking the stench-status of your breath with the flat-palm-up-to-the-mouth-Hah-Hah- method), the miniature pack of Kleenex (we all know the allergies will kick in at some point) and last but not least, the Beauty and the Beast cell phone charm, who doesn't need one of those? As I was standing in the checkout line, I saw them, the one thing that keeps The Impulse Buy Section alive and well, the end of existence as we know it.........The Tabloids. Here's the deal: everybody loves them, please admit this to yourself, say it out loud, even: I can't get enough tabloids! The funniest thing about this statement is that before you said it out loud, you probably looked around to make sure no one was going to hear you before you said it. Why does it make us so happy to know that celebrities' personal lives are being exploited by the pap for all the world to see? Back to Wally World: so I'm standing in the 10 Items or Less line and I'm staring blankly into The Impulse Buy Section oblivion and realize that my line's tabloids aren't as good as the other lines' tabloids. I mean, I'm reading about how Lindsay Lohan's life has hit "rock bottom," when I look over and see Angelina 2 lines over with a headline that reads, "Two more on the way!" with tiny fine print font underneath. Dang my nearsightedness. Someone out there must understand my frustration. Speaking of the paparazzi, don't forget to check out the post "The Fame" and vote on which celebrity that F. most encompasses!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Fame

Here is my dad F. hanging out in the gardens at The Biltmore:
Dad's nephrologist is hilarious and awesome, not because I've met him and think he's a riot, but because every time my dad goes to the doctor, he tells him that he looks like a new celebrity. He always says, "F., you've got the [insert celebrity here] look today." Well, Dad has had the George Clooney-look, the Robert Downy, Jr.-look, the Eddie Bauer-look (I don't know if he was referring to the man or store-style), etc. I could kick myself because I can't remember the others. Anyways, you get the picture. Yesterday Dad called me at work to tell me that someone told him he looked like Ben Stein. Bueller. Bueller. Bueller. I want to compare and contrast: which one of these celebs does F. most resemble?
Robert Downey, Jr.
Eddie Bauer (the look)
Ben Stein George Clooney
I'm going to say that in the above-photo, F. most favors the Clooney-look, but I'll let you guys be the judge. See the poll to the left of this post to vote!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Takin' Care of Business

When I was a little girl, I used to create businesses (only when I wasn't taking orders and delivering pizzas at my Barbies' Pizza Hut while fending off Ninja Turtle attacks from Bran) and make application forms on Dad's sweet IBM computer complete with a 5 1/4" floppy drive. I snagged home equity and loan application brochures from banks and filled them out because they had blank lines and it made me feel important. And it's very possible that I made some of my rintherealworld readers fill some out as well. My mom's best friend Sus used to proclaim to people at LCF that I could run a corporation in my teens. While I don't quite know about that, I will say that I have had many "careers" before my real job as a paralegal-all before I could drive: fashion designer, strict school teacher (Dad and Mom used to have to sit in desks and take my spelling tests, love it), chiropractor, tornado chaser (I watched Twister at least once a day for about a month in 4th grade), customer service representative for my fashion designing business "Fashion Club" (complete with a broken phone headset that I wore while aimlessly typing things into the ancient IBM). I had an office in Dad's office, and I used to love to go to places like Office Depot and Staples and look at office supplies. I think I had about every swirly colored gel pen on the face of planet Earth. What a dork. When people start new jobs, there are a number of tasks to be completed before one is up and running. You've got to get acquainted with where they store supplies like boxes of paperclips and staples, oodles of black, blue and red gel pens, and the FedEx envelopes, etc. You also have to personalize a few things, such as the scan/email feature on the copy machine, but before you do that, there's just one itsy bitsy thing you have to set up: the work email account. It's very legit., it's professional, it sends the message to the recipient that, "I'm not here to mess around, this is my new awesome work email address, and I want a response back ASAP! Can't you just see in the address how important my job is!" That sounds a little militant, but I think that deep down, everybody feels that way about their "work email"-it's one of the most efficient ways to take care of business. It's one thing to have a Gmail account, which is awesome (if you don't have one, you should switch), but it's a completely different situation when you have a "work" email. For instance, you know that your address is one out of ten (or 500, depending on who you work for) email addresses with the same domain name. It's exclusive, a way to be unique and belong. And we all want to be a part of something, right? I realize that this is such a trifle in the metaphysical sense of "being a part of something." I have to admit that after I had set up a "signature" for the work email that I sent my mom a test email to show off not only my new work email address, but my signature, complete with title and office name, address, phone and fax, just in case someone didn't have the resources to email me back--they can call me or send a fax, whichever they prefer. The funniest part about my "test" email is that I spent more time than I should have looking at other co-workers' signatures to see if mine was appropriate. I began to wonder what font was the best to use, or should I use dashes or periods in between the numbers for phone and fax, do I use the middle initial, etc. It was hilariously laborious, and now I feel kind of vulnerable even saying that I spent more than 5 minutes on my work email signature, but if you can't find joy in the little things in life, where else will you find it?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands

Fall is breaking its way through Summer's rays with the kind of crisp that reminds me of biting into an apple. The sky is that bold, rich cornflower blue, and yellow is gracing the tips of green leaves all around. September through mid-November is my favorite time of the year, partly because I love the splashes of beautiful hues, the hot chocolate with bookoos of marshmallows, the hearty meals with cheesy goodness, cute jackets with jeans and that rustling sound when you walk down the sidewalk-it's the sound that lets you know the earth is alive and well (even if it is in transition). Here are a few lines from one of my favorite poems, "The Sound of Trees" by Robert Frost:
"Why do we wish to bear Forever the noise of these More than another noise So close to our dwelling place?"
Besides the beauty and wonderfulness that autumn brings, it also escorts flu season and allergy colds. If you didn't already know, I'm terribly phobic of getting sick. And I try not to, but I tend to hold teensy weensy grudges toward the people that do make me sick, I can't help it. Last week, I was supposed to get my haircut, but my girl Erin (I call her "Erin Haircut") called me and told me that both of her kids had swine flu and that we'd have to reschedule for two days later. At first I agreed to this accommodation, but then I freaked myself out that she'd be carrying H1N1, called her up and told her I was freaked out about it, and we canceled. Sigh.....and I really needed that haircut, too.
Java Lady also got sick last week, and the doctor told her that she either had a sinus infection or...........H1N1, duh Duhn DUHN! So she started feeling better immediately and we thus decided that she had a sinus infection. Being in the Real World is a tricky situation when one person gets sick in the office. For instance, Java Lady had a cough, one of the partners had a cough, the office manager was feeling icky, etc. So everybody has been popping Vitamin C like we're addicted to it, and I've been Airborning my self to death. The office manager is awesome and follows the sickly around with a can of Lysol and sprays door handles, the handrail of the staircase, phone receivers, etc.
This past weekend, I went to Lebanon, and my fam and I went to a wedding reception for some family friends on Saturday....While I enjoy these events, I cannot help but obsessively concentrate on the fact that they're a breeding ground for colds and the flu. Needless to say, the groom's grandmother waddled right over to our table and hovered over Mom and I with a terrible cold, and I could feel her spit hitting me while she talked to us. Well, what do you know, at around 9:00 p.m. that night, I suddenly felt all congested and started coughing a little bit. And now M is feeling ill-ish also. It all points back to a great Seinfeld episode: "The Close Talker." Why do people insist upon doing this? Thanks a lot, Grandma.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beautiful Day

Hanban, one of my closest friends from college and I walked from my house to the U2 concert playing at Scott Stadium on Thursday, October 1. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience in my opinion; U2, an international phenomenon.......Bono and The Edge.....need I say more? Here are some pics from the event:
And yes, Bono was wearing the same outfit he's always wearing. Hanban predicted it spot on.
My favorite song that they sang at the concert was "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."
Mom's birthday was Sunday, October 4, so I took the long drive southbound on I-81 to Lebanon for the weekend. Mom had a yummy dinner fixed, roast beef, gravy, mashed Yukon gold potatoes out of the garden, fresh corn on the cob out of the garden, Mr. Stripey heirloom slices out of the garden, home-canned green beans from the 2008 garden, rolls, and butter, lots of butter. I'm quite positive that meal killed Elvis. So delicious. And the dessert, well, M's desserts are always always always delicious; a chocolate brownie with a chess bar-ish mixture swirled on top. Delectable. My brother Bran came up for dinner too, and he drove up in an unexpected vehicle: 1982 Mercedes Benz 240D. It's so cute. My aunt coined its name "Buttercream" at Mom's birthday party over at Granny's on Sunday. My brother, the 6'5" checkered shirt and Wrangler-wearin' manly man farmer, driving a butter-colored Mercedes-Benz around town; I love it.
It came with this unforgettable bumper sticker. My very politically active friend Dave informed me that this was a bumper sticker during the Arnold Schwarzenegger campaign (maybe I'm the only one that didn't know this).
Bran should hurry up and take that off of the back window or people will start to think that his political apathy has fallen away and he has joined one of the dreadful parties. But it's a great bumper sticker nonetheless.
Dad has become a vintner; his brand is called, "Medicine." He's got a sweet setup in the basement, and I got the grand tour on Friday night. He is making two different types of wine right now: Concord Grape and Bartlett Pear. They are still "working," as he calls it (I don't really know anything about the process) and won't be ready for bottling for another few weeks. Dad got some blackberries and his friend made a batch of blackberry wine and gave Dad half of it.
Dad made these labels himself.
As always, I love going home and wish I could go more often. Here is some corn that I fixed for dinner last night. M was kind enough to send it back up the road with me to Charlottesvegas......fresh corn out of the garden in October. When I was a little girl, corn on the cob was my favorite vegetable (besides the classic pile of mashed potatoes with gravy), and the best part was eating it off the cob. I used to get so tickled at my dad when he ate corn on the cob because it reminded me of a typewriter: he would chomp across the ear from left to right nonstop and when he got to the end, he would turn the ear and slide it back down to start at the same end. I always imagined hearing the "CHING" sound when he would hit up the next row.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

That's What She Said

I saw this site earlier, and well, it's hilarious. A website devoted to that's what she said afterthoughts...I love it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Le Plus Beau Du Quartier

I just finished reading My Life in France by Julia Child (with Alex Pud'homme), and it is a marvelous expose of the pleasures of preparing and enjoying cuisine. My favorite part of the book (a large chunk, at that) is where she talks about the process of writing her famous collaboration: Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was such an interesting book to read; she was in the first televised cooking show, The French Chef, I guess everybody else already knew that......and she used to work for the governmental department now called the CIA. I always thought that she was French, but she's from California; I suppose she got her accent from all the moving to and fro abroad.
I always wanted to go to Paris growing up. For what seems like an eternity, any and every French product has seemed a delicacy to Americans--the bread, the cheese, cosmetics, perfumes, couture, champagne, etc. I wanted to experience the most romantic city in the world, and scale the Eiffel Tower holding a loaf of French bread. I checked out a book from the Russell County Public Library on French cooking and my mom helped me fix a French meal for my Dad and brother, although I'm quite positive that it was I who was assisting her in the preparation (either way, she humored me, and honored me as the chef). When it came time in high school to choose a foreign language, the two options were French and Spanish. I had always planned on learning the French language, but alas, everyone persuaded me to take la clase de espanol instead, saying things like, "Spanish is much more practical to learn than French," "You might actually get to use Spanish one day..." I took Spanish for 3 years in high school and 1.5 years in college and could probably hold my own for about 5-10 minutes of a casual, introductory conversation with a native-speaker. It's kind of sad, but then again, I'm not submersed in the language. Either way, I regret not taking 4.5 years of French; it's just so beautiful. That's one of the reasons I love Carla Bruni--I have no idea what she's singing, but her songs are absolutely fabulous. My favorite song of hers is "Le Plus Beau Du Quartier."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Paperback Writer

(Image above taken from
I cannot remember how I found this website called MagCloud. It's a website that publishes a magazine that you create. You lay everything out; and turn it into a PDF file, submit it and *POOF* you have a magazine for sale on their website; you name your own price (it costs you $0.20/page). I promise I won't regularly post little mini advertisements, but I thought it was just a really cool idea. Someone please start a magazine with me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Before I started work full-time I went through a bunch of things in my room at home in Lebanon, and I found some jewelry that I had made back in the day. I was really into making elastic necklace sets; I think it was a craze probably ten years ago, and I strung seed beads like my life depended on it. Here are a few sets of them.
These green beads were the first glass beads that I ever owned (I always call them my first "real beads."). Not quite diamonds, but hey, you've got to start somewhere, right?
And here is the first pair of earrings that I ever made (to go with the necklace below): This is still one of my favorite colors to date.
I always loved this wooden bead...
I too went through one of those hemp stages from about age 11-16; I have enough hemp necklaces rationed up for an army at Mom and Dad's house. But here's some a necklace I made years ago with beads that Mom and Dad got for me from Hillsville:
(They're made in Ghana)
I have Plumb Alley Beads & Gifts to thank for advancing my skills in jewelry making; I started working there when I was a junior in high school and worked there pretty much over breaks and all through college. So I started in 2004 and my term there ended in 2008; it was definitely my favorite job ever. I got paid to do the thing I love to do: create (the helping people part was fun, too). As a result, I learned so much from the ladies with whom I worked; they taught me so much about beading. Another treasure that I found was a "Forever Friends" necklace from 6th grade-ish (?). It may have been 4th grade, actually. Anyways, my best childhood friend Holly has the other least I hope she does because you know, base metal is making a comeback. We used to ride bikes around her neighborhood all the time and map out secret forts under trees and shrubbery in people's yards. It was awesome.
BFF's, right Holly?
The other night, Java Lady and I were craving a midnight snack (because everybody knows that's the healthiest time to snack), but because we had to roll into work at 9:00 the next morning, we had to make it snappy. So below is a video featuring Java Lady making one of her favorite treats: "Fried Banana and Fudge Sundae": The best part--it literally takes about 2.5 minutes to make!
All you need are the following ingredients:
Browned butter 1 banana 2 heaping spoonfuls of fudge sauce 2 bowls full of vanilla ice cream And now for our feature presentation...
Dessert for the Working Woman: Fried Banana and Fudge Sundae with Java Lady

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

For the record, I received the most hilarious email forward. It was called, "20 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity," and it's literally been cracking me up about 48 hours. Some of my favorites on the list include: #1 At Lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down; #7 Finish all your sentences with, "In accordance with the prophecy"; and #14 Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical sounds all day. Something in me really believes that the crazy and pointless email forwarding system is part of a pyramid scheme, so I don't really forward things to people; however, I might make an exception if anyone is interested.
One of my favorite things about the real world is that when 5:00 rolls around, you go home and don't have "work" to do. College was very much the opposite; most of the time I really liked going to class because it meant that I wasn't reading on the required 247 pages for the next shebang of classes on the following day. As soon as you got home from all the classes, you had to get to work.........of course there were recreational activities in between, but I had a really hard time doing something totally fun during the week because I felt guilty. I thought things like, "Man, in the time I spent at Chipotle this week, I could have written two papers.......dangit, Bobby." But now that I have a job, I can do whatever I want after work, which is both my favorite and my least favorite thing about the real world. Sometimes I can't wait to get home and work on a project or watch a movie or eat a scrumdidliumptious meal. Then there are other days when I get excited about going home, but then I ask myself, what? I have a hard time not having plans, but I also like to have an open's all very oxymoronic. With all the extra time on my hands after 5:00 p.m., I decided to take a pottery class for 8 weeks. I have worked with clay only a couple of times; my aunt teaches high school art and does really neat stuff with clay in her class, so as a girls-night-out when I was younger, we made beautiful pots at her house. Then in high school, I learned basic techniques, and now, I'm trying to make some lovely dishes/cups/trays/whatever I feel like........which sometimes tests my patience. I have tried my hand at making many things, and I must admit that I have a newfound respect for potters; I mean, how on earth do you get everything to look so perfect? I fell into a slump at my last class and was giving myself a silent pity party because my stuff didn't look like anything that anyone would be caught dead displaying in their house. Sigh, maybe next week my hands will be able to work some magic...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Summerlong Part Two

So, as promised, I'm posting the video interviews with Chazz and D. Pet from the football game on Saturday against TCU. Here's what they think about being alumni, our terrible football coach Al Groh and medical school (please don't judge my amateur video editing):
D. Pet: Thoughts on Football and Alumni Status David was saying things to K. like, "Doesn't Michigan run this offense too? I think it works for them...," so I took his word for it and considered his football knowledge to be vast. Safe to say that when he says it's time for Groh to Go, I concur.
Chazz: Thoughts on Medical School
My favorite conversation during the game occurred while I was eating my hot dog. I was telling Chazz that I had thought about him when I saw the Rockies play at the Coors Field in Denver last year because I saw an ad for Hebrew International-- they make kosher hot dogs (My question is, how can any hot dog be kosher? The mystery remains...). As you might have guessed, Chazz is Jewish; when I told him this, his response was, "There are so many Jews in Denver." Chazz knows everything!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Summerlong Part One

This weekend was absolutely fabulous. On Saturday, I went to the Farmer's Market with my landlord, dear friend and co-worker K., also known by her license plates as "Java Lady."
We've established a ritual of going to the farmer's market and then going to a coffee shop for a latte afterward. We've discovered the absolute best mocha lattes in Charlottesville at a place called The Baker's Palette:
Here's the girl making our yummy mocha lattes; isn't that wall-hanging awesome?
And this is why we call her "Java Lady:"
I then went to the UVA v. TCU football game with K., K.'s parents and two of his former roommates, Chazz and D. Pet. It was D. Pet's and my first football game at UVA as alumni, and I must say that it was kind of strange. It made me feel a bit nostalgic about college, but then again, I can't really say that the team did us proud, and the weather was perfect, so who cares?
Go 'Hoos!
Cav Man! (apparently, Cav Man fell off his horse during the course of the game, but I was unable to see the hilarity occur.)
I video-interviewed Chazz and D. Pet about their experiences at the game on this day. D. Pet used to work for UVA as a media sports photographer while he was in college, so he's very knowledgeable about what was going on in the game, unlike myself. Chazz is in medical school at UVa now, and I got a little glimpse of what that must be like (not really)...I'm going to add those videos soon. Maybe tomorrow... On Sunday, I found a hidden treasure practically in my back yard. There is a path through the woods beside of my house that leads to Azalea Park, complete with a ballpark (a kickball league monopolizes this space) and.........wait for it, wait for it, a playground. And swings. That was my favorite thing to do during recess in elementary school.
Here's the path:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On the Road Again

I never really thought Labor Day was super great until this year, you know, since I have a full time job now (since college was lame in that I had to go to class on Labor Day)...3 day weekend! I left work on Friday, headed down Rt. 29 and over 460 W. to Lynchburg, VA then on over 460 W. and down I-81 to Radford, VA, down I-81 to Rt. 100 to Hillsville, back to Radford, Lynchburg and then finally to Charlottesville once again. Sounds kind of laborious, doesn't it? It was the complete opposite; low key dinner-out on Friday night with K.; lazing around on the couch all day Saturday with Jug and Mel; walking around Hillsville, VA with my whole fam on Sunday, and then wrapping up on Monday in Lynchburg once more for a day of running around the town all day with K. and Hanban.

The highlights of the weekend consist of Saturday's eating fest in which Jug, Mel and I participated. We ate at a Mexican restaurant called "Mi Puerta," munched on roast beef with potatoes and carrots that Mel had fixed (which was totally outstanding), made dents in two boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts (cake doughnut holes and yes, the chocolate covered creme filled ones) and made break-and-bake birthday cake and chocolate chip cookies. And then we sat on couches. All day and evening. It was glorious, until I caught wind via a sportscaster that William and Mary's football team had beaten UVA, and then I remembered that I went there for academics and not sports and it was okay again. Otherwise, I might have cursed; instead, I just laughed.

Jug, Mel and I drove down the highway to Hillsville "like a band of gypsies" from Radford on Sunday to meet some of our family (Mom and Dad, Christy and Larry, and Ali and Rex) for antiquing. Every Labor Day weekend, the whole town of Hillsville, Virginia turns into a ginormous flea market (complete with a Copenhagen tobacco dealer, gun dealers and the most delicious greasy food you've eaten since the last county fair you attended), with a concentration in antiques. And every year, my family goes to Hillsville on this weekend and every year they tromp around wheeling and dealing for the antiques that they collect, but I think my dad's favorite part is the homemade ice cream. Right after the first bite, he said, "Hm, this is highway robbery!" When I mentioned that I was going to this event to a lawyer-friend for Labor Day weekend, he replied with, "Oh my gosh, that is so southern of you!" I replied with, Southern and wonderful.

Here's just a glimpse of all the yum yums you could buy:

Here are Mel and Jug eating turkey legs for lunch!

I took $113.00 in cash with me to the event, hoping to find addends to my antique tea cup collection as well as my Imperial Candlewick dish collection (first introduced by Imperial Glass Company in 1936 and was a company mainstay for nearly 50 years before the company went bankrupt in 1984). I am proud to say that I stayed under budget by $25.00. Look at all the loot that I bought for $87.00:

My beloved Imperial Candlewick 1/4 lb. Butter & Cover (400/161)

Imperial Candlewick "10.5" Butter and Jam Tray (400/161)

Vista-Pink tea cup by Mason's Ironstone, featuring a pink landscape with a scalloped edge

Fabulous turquoise beads

This is everything (above), excluding a pair of $5 sunglasses (Jug and I got the 2 for $10 deal, since we were both dimwits and forgot ours). I left the glasses on the front hood of my dad's truck Denver when Jug, Mel and I left, so they're safe and sound in the custody of Dad and Mom. I also got some good house-warming gifts and easy-whip-ups for parties or surprise company.

Basically, you can find anything at this Hillsville shindig. For instance, one such tent that Jug, Mel and I ventured into before the others arrived had an older woman having a new nail product appliqued to her nails. Rubber stamps for finger nails. She was so excited to have slot machines on each individual finger nail, that I kind of wondered if the nail lady had hired her to market this to women with gambling problems. Gotta get your fix somehow, right? Somebody must have gotten really bored with scrapbooking one day and thought, "Hey, I should invent a rubber stamp tattoo.....I don't think anybody's ever done that for nails..." Whatever. They were trying to suck Mel and I in, but between our shocked grinning faces, we were able to barely yet successfully exit the tent without buying anything. We then proceeded to the next tent where Jug and I bought our sunglasses for the day. Here are some other great things I saw/found at Hillsville:

I kind of wish I would've bought this vintage apron, since it matched my shirt and everything...This is Dad and me.

Christy found this neat little toy circus train set:

More Candlewick dishes! They're so awesome.

And then, for the oddest piece of the day, I'd have to say this little guy:
I hope that this posting is enough to recommend that everyone should go to Hillsville next year to take a bite of the past and take it home with you. What a great Labor Day weekend, even if a lot of it was spent on the road!