Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Keith Holidays

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday filled with family, laughter and lots of good food. For the fourth year in a row I enjoyed a Keith Thanksgiving complete with its southern charm.

Thanksgiving lunch is always held at Chad's grandfather's house; the home of Harold Keith, father to seven children-three boys and four girls. All of Chad's aunts and uncles are grandparents except Wayne and Renee, my in-laws. So when the Keith clan gathers for Thanksgiving lunch, there is little room to sit. The small house is full of treasures and trinkets that speak to the family that grew up within its four walls; endless picture frames, counted cross-stitch mementos of 50 years of marriage, multiple sets of elaborate china, and couches worn thin by the presence of family and friends. Turkey and all the "fixings" are spread across the empty counter space in the kitchen. The buffet boasts turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, baked macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie, yummy rolls, carrots, beans, corn, vegetable casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy and sweet tea to drink.

After lunch we scurried home for a couple hours to let out the dogs (we were dog sitting for friends) and nap before heading out for dinner at Chad's parents. We were joined there by Cameron (Chad's older brother), his wife Emily, Weston (Chad's younger brother), his girlfriend Amanda, and Rick (Chad's uncle). It was really a joyous day.

Yesterday Chad and I welcomed Christmas into our home. Since we are heading to New York for about a week over the holiday we wanted to savor every minute of Christmas in our own home. We picked up a tree at a local Christmas tree lot and decorated it in our red and gold ornaments. I used some of the tree trimmings to make homemade garland on our mantle and the windowsill over the kitchen sink. Every year we accrue more holiday decor and I feel like it is starting to shape into my final vision on our own Keith Christmas.

Enjoy the start of your holiday season.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Pitch

Growing up with a European father causes a small child to believe that there is only one sport in this world:  football (soccer). March Madness was March Sanity; the Super Bowl was an unobserved event; our World Series participation ended when my father asked my mother how many points a home run was worth. Naturally, I began playing the game shortly after I realized legs were meant for walking and stopped only after my junior year in college. Lazy Saturday mornings were spent watching Dennis Bergkamp lead the Dutch national team, or David Beckham's set plays continue to befuddle opposing players. To me, that was home.

Today, I share the couch with my husband, captivated by the 3-3 Germany versus Ukraine friendly. My husband, born to American parents, grew up watching every sporting event I didn't. Soccer was as foreign to him as marrying a Yankee. He has recently taken an enthusiastic interest in all things soccer: the English Premier League, Bundesliga, the Dutch national team, figuring out the ins-and-outs of a game I fell in love with at an early age. Watching him taking the time to learn and appreciate something so special to me warms my heart. To me, this is home.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


It's 7:33 am. Saturday. My day to sleep in. I've been up since 6.

Chad is still asleep under multiple blankets; usually my nighttime luxury as I am the cold natured one. This morning our house is freezing and I like it. It means that autumn is settling in with her brisk mornings, cozy days, and clear-skied nights. We've decorated some-pumpkin here, pumpkin there, a couple mums in front of the house, and an autumn inspired wreath. I have lots of things I want to do for fall, I just get drained from teaching all day and the free moments from grading at home are filled with mindless activities or simple rest. Perhaps today I will take more time for me and tackle a few of my try diy projects repined on pinterest.

Just now several geese flew over our home, honking away. Koda stirred at my feet a bit but returned to his slumber.

I've been looking for some vision for this blog...direction. I know it is usually occupied by my thoughts, but I feel like that's such a loose cannon. I've been contemplating more structure, a theme.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chasing Cars

I was driving to church this morning on probably the best road in Charlotte, Johnson Oehler Road. (I imagine I may have spelled that incorrectly.) It is a winding road with a little pond at the begin-home to goats, a donkey, swans. There are small farms, big billowing trees and, recently, a soccer field that houses a Sunday morning cricket match.

Today there was also an unexpected creature; a beautiful golden retriever wandering down the other lane of the road. As I passed, the dog looked on timidly and then chased after my slow moving Saturn. The little lady's coat looked rather mangy, suggesting she had been neglected. She didn't have a collar on and when I stepped out of my car she hesitantly made her way toward me.

In the two minutes that all of this occurred, I had big plans to lure this dog into my car, bath and feed her, and try to find her home or welcome her into my own. Since she melted me heart I knew (okay, unrealistically hoped) Chad would warm to her as well. She wasn't having the get-in-my-car business and when a car pulled up a moment later the driver informed me the dog lived down the road. After leaving the scene-casting judgement on the obviously neglectful doggy parents-I started to examine my actions in what just happened.

Was I right in trying to help the dog in the way that I did? Was the dog really in need of help? Was I doing so out of pure compassion or from the place that wants to care for a small zoo in my home? Were there selfish motives in my attempt at a rescue? Most importantly, why did I feel that I had to be the one to save this dog?

Yesterday afternoon I returned from a women's retreat where I joined other women from The Branch as we rested in the Lord's presence. There was so much great teaching that my hand could not keep up with all of the great notes I was trying to record. One such golden nugget of truth that I transcribed was to rid myself of the mindset that I need to carry the burdens of others.

As I drove away from the sad, sad dog, as hard as it was, I let go of the idea that I had to save that dog. Tonight, I will pray that the dog's owners become more attentive to their pet's needs and trust the Lord. Silly example, I know, but a girl has to practice some how, don't I?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm feeling tickled

We all have unique sets of things that "tickle our fancy". Here are a few from my list that have recaptured my attention recently.

Corduroy pants. It's funny to think that someone invented pants with a million little ruts in them, but I love 'em. Warmer than your every day jeans, my go-to-pair have just the perfect amount of stretch to make you want to run around town or lounge in these suckers.

Cinnamon raison bagels with cream cheese. I'm a New Yorker and a hearty breakfast always includes scrumptious bagels. My closest high school buds and I would take advantage of our open campus lunch break to drive to the local Bagel Bin to treat ourselves to bagels for sustenance. My dentist tells me not to eat bagels because the excessive chewing to allow for an effective swallow aggravates my TMJ-I don't listen. I had one for breakfast today; yummy.

Skirts. Having to dress "professional" Monday-Thursday is not necessarily to my liking, but this predicament has caused me to grow increasingly fond of skirts. Hands down they are more comfortable than dress slacks and I've been playing with some new ways to wear some well-worn oldies (but still goodies).

Light(er) hair. I've been fighting it for a while by periodically dying my hair several shades darker than it's natural color, but recently I've allowed it to exist closer to its pure form. I'm definitely not a blonde, but my hair finds humor in persistent dancing between the light brown and I-don't-know-what-color-to-call-you line.

Fuzzy socks. My best friend in high school lived in a gorgeous-yet bit older-home. If the house ever went on the market I'd buy it, package it up, and move it to North Carolina. Her parents heated the home with a wood pellet stove. One room was toasty warm and the rest of the house was an ice box. To combat this dilemma, my friend's mom would purchase us (her daughter's friends) extra insulated fuzzy socks. I love mine and have since purchased several more.

Martha Stewart and Real Simple magazines. A few years back my mom purchased me subscriptions to both magazines. She's renewed them every year since and I LOVE it when they arrive. I'm not by any means domestically inclined, but sitting down in our office lounge chair with a fresh, hot cup of coffee and my magazines is dreamlike.

That is all for now. I must go to bed. I love you, faithful readers, and I hope you take the time away from our busy, busy world to enjoy the things you love

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Solomon tells us that for everything there is a season. In this season I feel blessed. By God's grace, I have found joy and peace in the whirlwind of teaching. My relationship with my husband has continued to blossom even in our limited weekday time together. I have grown to appreciate family and celebrate in the little moments despite the miles between us. My eyes and heart have been open to friendships with women who encourage, challenge, and hold me accountable to be a kingdom-minded woman. I have hope for good things to come, no matter what season blows through.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gosh, I must do better at staying current with this thing.

Recently-moreso than usual-I have found myself coming face-to-face with issues exclusive to the feminine persuasion. Not just internally, but in conversations with others who are genuinely finding themselves to be facing very trying battles.

Marriage. Motherhood. Professional glory. Biblical submission versus selfish pride. Feelings of inferiority. The inability to see personal beauty.

Today, more than ever, the world encourages women up to be powerful, self-reliant creatures-creatures able to function with no outside assistance. Just recently I discovered this seemingly "worldly" outlook to be a very real-Biblically cited-struggle among women; the desire for control, for dominance. It stems back to the role of Eve in the fall. It's something I struggle with daily.

But this post is not about me. This post is about women-you, if you are one. Befriend each other. Pray for each other. Lift each other up with promises from the Word. Pray for discernment between the lies from the devil and the truth from our King. Rest in His promises and be thankful for grace. Be thankful for today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Pink Spoon Shadow

Peaches. Mango. Strawberries. Blueberries. Pineapple. Tangerines. Those are all the toppings I put on my $5 and change amount of frozen yogurt this evening. There is no denying the deliciousness of my treat. Momentarily the flavor rush shadowed the reality of calories, and so much more.

At this time along the Somalia-Kenya border there is a refugee camp fit to hold 90,000 refugees topping out with a population of over 400,000 and growing. Why are the people there? A compounded problem involving famine, drought, and lawlessness has resulted in hunger and, consequently, death for an alarming amount of people, young and old. Photos of the stark realities Somalians are facing litters the television and computer screen. I can't quite verbalize the impact of the photos. You can see the hopelessness in the refugees' eyes. It's hard to not turn away. I don't often internalize global strife of which I am so far removed. This time is different. Seeing children in such dire agony, so near Death's relentless grasp, and not being able to grab them first and wrap their little bodies in sustenance and love just breaks me to pieces.

I pray for relief for those suffering throughout the world. Especially those suffering from hunger in Africa. I pray my plentiful life does not shadow my eyes from seeing, my heart from feeling, and my hands from doing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Dog's Identity Crisis

Yes, you read correctly. My dog is having an identity crisis. Or so we think.

Last week my husband and I agreed to watch our friends' dog for a few days. They thanked us repeatedly, as if we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but they didn't know how excited I really was. I love animals, just not the slimy ones. If I had more space (inside and outside of our home) I'd have as many dogs as I could tolerate, and an equal amount of cats.

Berkley, our guest, and Koda, our resident canine, are the same age and kept themselves occupied with jumping, following, biting, wrestling, licking, and the occasional nap.  Then Berkley left.

Koda has never been one that responded to his name. In fact, he prefers to run wildly throughout the neighborhood without a leash only to return when he feels so inclined rather than respond to his name. I can't really recall what led to this, but I decided to call out "Berkley" as I would Koda's given name just to see how he'd react to the absence of his friend. Well, you would have thought I called out an unlimited supply of T-R-E-A-T-S by the way he reacted!

Koda thinks he is Berkley. It's either that or he is in puppy love.


Moving to North Carolina was one of the biggest changes in my life. Oftentimes I look around, sweating under the summer sun, and think about how crazy it is that I ended up here, in the South, when I always thought I'd remain near my Yankee roots. Then I realize my wonder isn't necessarily sparked by that life change, but by my (seemingly) sudden presence in adulthood. Much to my own bewilderment, as a child I always wanted to be an adult. Now that I am one, I don't want it anymore. Adulthood. It's not that I desire to be six again, but I want the freedom, the innocence, the ignorance to the ways of this world and its ability to bruise.

I saw two kids, perhaps around five, in Walmart the other day; one boy and one girl. The boy was wide-eyed approaching a display of fresh fruit that was successfully luring him in. The girl drifted behind, consumed with giggles and twirling her body around while watching her blue and white skirt follow. For a moment I wanted to toss down my list, allow the cart to wander off, and spin too.

I don't understand why I keep returning to this topic: my dread of the monotony of being an adult. Please don't mistake this post as a sign of my unhappiness or regret, even. I am very happy and very blessed. I do wish I would remember God's promises more and trust the prevailing of His will in my life if I just let it happen. Aside from that, I wouldn't change a thing.

Other than wishing for the social acceptance of public swirling no matter what the age of the swirler.

Friday, July 15, 2011

More + More = Convenience?

Google + ... another social media venue. So, with mild prompting from my techie husband, I accepted my invite and joined yet another online network. I have no friends (On Google +, I mean). Apparently, the only way you may invite people is by selecting someone from your gmail contact list. I have a gmail account, but I do not have a contact list. Personally I feel a contact list is redundant. If I need to contact someone via email, I locate the last correspondence in my inbox and reply. Simple. My successful system has worked thus far, but now I have no friends, which I am quite alright with accepting. In fact, it may be safe to say I am near being teched-out (if such a thing exists).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Slumber's Song

Early mornings during the summer months are hard for me to tackle. The warmth and comfort of the engulfing covers hold tight to my groggy body. A fresh day ahead is luring, but the knowledge that mornings such as these are numbered forces a battle between productivity and indulgence. Household chores rally together to entice my feet to the padded floor; laundry washed and folded, a neatly tucked-in bed, a backyard rid of advancing weeds and happily bathed dishes dangle a generous portion of sparkling pride in efforts to tempt me from my luxurious haven. An unexpected yawn shakes the allure of accomplished adulthood. Puppy love now nestles at my covered feet, a reminder that I am not the only soul caught in the snares of slumber's enchanting song.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Eat Up

You can tell a lot about a person by what rests, temporarily, on his/her dinner dish. I am sure you have done it at one time or another, judged a person by their plate; eating too little, eating too much, a sauce fanatic, the salt junkie, the BK resident (always wanting food his/her way), the vegetarian, the protein buff, and so on.

I am fairly predictable. I love carbs (rice, delicious dinner rolls, pasta, potatoes...) and I slowly savor vegetables; there is no limit to the veggie world's real estate as far as my plate is concerned. I usually stick to poultry-chicken or turkey-and the occasional seafood entree of salmon or crab cakes. As far as condiments are concerned, I typically favor ketchup and barbecue sauce to all others. If I can't distinguish what something is, I stay away. Soup or salad? Salad all the way (Italian dressing, please). I'm pretty simple and usually stick to classic, routine dishes.

Vegetarian I am not, but I do carry a certain stigma toward meat. I blame it on a tragic occurrence at the tender age of five for this condition my husband deems as "unnatural".  Inching ever-so-slowly toward an Adirondack lake's edge, my foot searched for stability atop a slimy, floating deceased-yet plump-frog. By my reaction you would have thought I lost a limb, but worse. I can not look at, touch, smell, taste, or consume any portion of meat that resembles (in my presence) the animal it once was. Examples: slabs of steak, ribs, shrimp, lobster or crab claws/legs/tails/other random body parts, turkey carcasses (displayed on Thanksgiving tables), breasts of chicken with bones, fish with skin/scales-ick!, barbecue displayed as pigs' butts/thighs/whole bodies, big chunks of ham, pork roasts, and so much more. Yes I get grossed out, but I also feel bad for the little (or big) guys. In such moments I consider converting to the herbivore side, but then I think of Chic-fil-A and the act simply can not be done. Maybe some day.

What does your plate say about you?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fields of Imaginative Frolicking

"Two roads emerged in the wood, and I -- 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference"
-Robert Frost

I think it is safe to assume most people have heard this Frost quote before. Today, the quote serves-Frost's intended purpose aside-to encourage (generally young) people to step out into the world boldly, not be afraid of the unknown, take a chance, and other messages similar in theme. Has anyone stopped to wonder what would have happened if Frost did take the more traveled way? What if the worn path looped around and eventually met it's other half further into the wood? 

My blogs often explicitly reference my quick decision to move to North Carolina. So many great things have happened since and I know that I have been generously blessed. Every so often I wonder: what if I decided to stay in upstate New York? If I had, where would I be today? 

I'm not talking about regret here. I do not live in regret, but there are a good number of things I have done that I can now see other-wiser-ways in which I could have handled past circumstances. 

I urge you to wonder for a while where the path you passed by could have taken you. When your mind returns from the fields of imaginative frolicking, appreciate the path you're on and the fruit that this part of the "wood" has granted you. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Chad and I just returned from a little anniversary getaway in Charleston, South Carolina. I absolutely adore Charleston. It is a quaint city with a tangible nostalgia of antebellum days that can charm just about anyone. Part of what made our trip as enjoyable as it was, were the overwhelming recommendations we received from friends for restaurants, activities, historical "musts", shopping, even parking. So rather than narrate our experiences to you, I'm going to share some of our own recommendations. Here goes...

For the Civil War/historical buffs:

Now, I'm not one to trade shopping for a historical moment, but this was probably one of the coolest museums (if you will) that I have ever encountered. Our guide was more knowledgable than any history teacher I have had and I truly walked away feeling more educated than I was when we pulled up. If you have time to spare on a Saturday or Sunday, visit the H.L.Hunley, the first submarine (used in the Civil War) and the vessel responsible for sinking the USS Housatonic in a mere five minutes!

this guy is old

Chad and I hanging out in a replica 
(10% larger than the real deal!)

Our first day in downtown Charleston began on an hour-long carriage tour with Palmetto Carriage Rides. My favorite part of the tour was learning about the unmistakably unique architecture throughout the entire peninsula and the practical functions behind it. If interested, there are two dollar coupons on their website AND they offer free parking for the entire day. We even returned to the city for dinner that same day parking!

Some sites from our tour...

For those who must eat to survive:

Craving a cheeseburger (or GREAT turkey burger) but don't want to walk away feeling like your stomach is on the verge of bursting? Burger Babies has all your favorite burgers and sandwiches, just reduced to a more manageable mini size. It's perfect for a quick lunch to keep you fueled for King Street shopping. If you go, add a side of sweet potato tots. You won't regret it. 

Chad's cheeseburger and jerk shrimp sandwich,
made complete with the sweet potato tots.
(They offer great combo deals!)

Our pastor recommended that we check out Hyman's Seafood. The food, service, environment, tabletop food for thought, and even the waiting bench is worth your time. Also, allow your eyes to stray to nearby tables as they feature small brackets letting you know the various celebrities who enjoyed the same food. (We were near Hootie and the Blowfish, Vanilla Ice, Sandra Bullock, and Kevin Costner) Don't be crazy, go eat there. (I ordered the crab cakes...awesome!) 
The hubs :) 

Keep your eyes peeled around town for coupons-easy to come by-for free appetizers. Also, we told our server it was our anniversary and they treated us to a free brownie with three scoops of ice cream. We loved the treat, but it ruined our plans to visit Kaminsky's-just down the street-and indulge in dessert (recommended by friends). 

For the walker/nature lover/collegiate minded...

Located in the heart of Charleston is the College of Charleston, a public liberal arts and sciences university. If I had grown up in the south, I would have begged to go here! The campus is breathtakingly beautiful. Chad and I strolled around and enjoyed the nature the school obviously values. 

*Located southwest of the Calhoun and King Street intersection.

Me...wishing I could go back to college

For the shopper:

Market Street is known for guessed it, open-air markets that were very recently given new life. Here you can find locally produced pottery, jewelry, baskets, and the like. Great for souvenirs, but beware: very touristy. 

King Street is home to every major national retailer you can think of as well as some diverse antique dealers. If seeking antiques, bring a full wallet and make sure you visit the southern end of this retail walk. 

a fun find!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mama Taught Me to Share

Yesterday evening I got to hold a week old beautiful baby girl, Bellamy. Her tiny body was warm as I cradled her-so fearful I could hurt her in some way-in my arms. Peace consumed her. She stole a peek at me as she yawned and her delicate arms stretched. Seeing the product of life created so beautiful in a mother's womb is indeed an awesome miracle. 

That same evening progressed to a dinner date with friends. The couple treated us to fried cucumbers, tasty grilled chicken, green beans and potatoes made complete with garlic bread-yum! S'mores for dessert? Yes. Please! Sharing laughs with good friends: wonderful.

Today marks one year since Chad and I promised to love and support each other no matter what the challenge. "They" warn you that the first year of marriage is the hardest. (Was there a field test that warrants this claim?) The first year of marriage is more educational than anything; you learn about yourself, you learn about your spouse, you learn about compromise, patience, forgiveness, selflessness, the actions of love, and so much more. It's full of adventure and new beginnings. Tomorrow morning Chad and I leave to explore Charleston as we celebrate our new life together. Sharing life with Chad is the best decision I've ever made. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do Not Touch The Painting

My good friend Marissa is beautiful and remarkably brilliant. I met Marissa while living and studying in London during the summer of 2006. We clicked instantly. One of our favorite past times was to galavant to all of the museums we could get into for free (courtesy of our Boston University student ids) or a minimal fee. When we had our share of collections we would stroll through breathtaking parks or tackle famous markets. The occasional wrong turn or missed tube stop allowed us the opportunity to explore culturally rich neighborhoods on the outskirts of the central city. These excursions are among my fondest memories of London.

Today, now stateside, I still have the constant itch to visit local-and not so local-museums. At the ATM, of all places, I saw a sign that caused me to let out a small squeal of excitement. Bank of America card holders earn free access to select museums in certain cities on the first full weekend of each month! If that's you...check it out:

A Little Life Update

Nearly a week has passed since my last post. It is summer yet my calendar has more events penciled in than during the school year; such an odd yet exciting occurrence. My time, lately, is filled with things that I have been longing to do for a while but managed to put on the back burner for other "priorities" (or so justified in my mind).

Although my blog has been a tad bit ignored I have made strides to pursue pieces for potential freelance opportunities or contests. Also within the literary scope of pursuits, I finally started a book club. I always wanted to be a part of a book club, an idea further ignited after watching "Jane Austen's Book Club". Contrary to certain stereotypes, our book club is young-not relative, in actuality; no member is a grandmother and we are, personal claims confirmed by dear (unpaid) friends, cool. If you want to read along with us or are interested in joining (women only), you have until July 28 to finish Mary Kay Andrews' Summer Rental.

On Saturday Chad and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary-eek! It is such a paradoxical occasion; it feels as though we have been together for decades yet we just got married. I don't buy into the first-year-of-marriage-is-the-hardest myth. I don't have much experience, but it was more exciting than anything. I loved learning new things about Chad with every passing day. He continuously serves me no matter what the day or my mood-for this I am eternally grateful. Chad has taught me, by his daily examples, to always be quick to forgive and patient to see change. I am a stubborn, difficult person to live with, and he hasn't left! Hallelujah! This coming week we will spend three days in Charleston on the beach!

I have made headway on some wonderful job part-time job opportunities that have come up, for this summer and throughout the year. There are several and they are an answer to prayer-thank you for those who have prayed with us.

Koda is still a rascal. In fact, I better go check on him to make sure he doesn't eat our garden. He fancies peppers.

Good night sweet friends!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Furious Fluttering

Do you ever notice how butterflies appear in the oddest of places? Today, for example, at the pool, a butterfly danced for a short while above the water's basketball hoop as boys vied for the title of best shooter. It's wings fluttered furiously before flying off toward the bushes to the west. I admired it's gracefulness in spite of the chaos below its flightpath. Whenever I see a butterfly I think of my brother. He died nine years ago next month.

I can't remember where I heard the following (from a person, movie, book, magazine, strange attempt at an inspirational quote...) : butterflies are representative of the spirits of those we once loved, but have now passed. Please don't mistake me as someone who buys into everything she is fed, although I am admittedly naive at times. I do not believe this in the literal sense. I whole-heartedly believe that my brother is walking among angels and is presently in awe of God's glory, in heaven. Nevertheless, whenever a butterfly hurries past me, the part of my heart that still aches during moments when I'm reminded of his absence causes my imagination to entertain the idea of truth behind the butterfly theory, just for a moment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Swaddling Young Summer

Summer-for me-has not yet aged a week and it is already off to a better start than I could have even imagined!

Monday was my last day at school. Yippee!

Tuesday I had a slow morning of breakfast in bed followed by episode after episode of the television show Survivor. Chad and I are television series addicts; we find a series we like and, together, watch it religiously down to the very last episode. Following Survivor frenzy, I met with a friend and decided to start a business with Mary Kay! Then Chad and I returned home to make tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil pizza-yummy yum yum!

Wednesday I woke up-are you ready for this?-at 3:45 a.m.! My friend Sarah and I joined ranks with our friend, and Anthropologie employee, Kelly to assist with Anthro's early morning inventory. If you know me well, you know I am a sucker for all things Anthro. Not only were we paid, but those of us who assisted received a temporary employee discount! I am quite proud to say that I deposited my cash that same day. Save, Kim, save. Yesterday afternoon I visited a new friend who is willingly allowing me to write a feature piece on her to submit to various publications for editorial consideration; I am very grateful. The afternoon didn't just yield an interview, but three hours were well spent sharing stories about family, friends, teenage rebellions, and reveling in the sweet smile and laughter of her gorgeous little boy. It was the most honest and encouraging conversation I've had in a while. This woman is quite spectacular.

Today I slept in a bit (recovering from yesterday's damaging wake up call) and caught up on emails and such. I got my hair cut by the ever-so-impressive Lorraine Conrad. Post-cut I ventured to Barnes & Noble across the street and bought a new book. The book came with me to the pool, where I boycotted sunscreen and, consequently, am currently an interesting shade of red. My new iPhone case came in the mail along with my Mary Kay starter kit with plenty of goodies. Koda and I shared two walks today and I made dinner for my husband before he got home.

My days might sound mediocre, maybe even pathetic, to you. The events I shared were fun, great, memorable, but what you can't read are the moments when I took in the moment to wonder at the vastness of the blue North Carolinian sky, the laughter that Chad and I shared when Koda decided to plop his rear end directly in front of our Survivor marathon showing, and the peace my spirit finds in the rest summer provides.

Long live summer!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My First Day of Summer

Yippee to my last day of work for the rest of summer! Since I was a wee little child I have always had summers off. This year I have a few projects that will keep me busy, but at least they can and will be done on my schedule.

The arrival of summer is always accompanied by grandiose plans to revamp my day-to-day life. Some plans are carried out, others get swept away by the lure of the poolside, sleeping in, and good books. This summer will be highlighted by a week of me being a student again (the nerd in me is beyond excited over this fun fact), a first anniversary trip to Charleston with my love, more writing, of course some good reading, pool time, friend time, and my domestic quest (more to come on this soon).

Hello sweet summer!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Price of Entertainment

Being more disciplined in my blogging has changed the way I think. Hear me out. I blog about my life for several reasons: one, that I don't forget it (if you know me, you know I don't remember much); two, to practice my writing and potentially inspire myself-by default-to write something people might one day pay to read; three, to entertain; four, to share my life in the hopes of potentially bettering others-even ever so slightly-by my experiences, through the good, the bad, and the ugly, assuming my writing yields slivers of wisdom. (I am sure that is a run-on sentence...perhaps I should extend that list to encompass grammar and mechanics lessons.)

In between blogs, I look for life experiences that stick out as a bit more exciting or purposefully symbolic of something greater than just my presence. Here is one such moment.

This moment came as a product of my search for normalcy. Usually I am up and out of the house before most people I know ever hear their alarm clock. I am a strong advocate that such a practice is just wrong. Nevertheless, this past week I haven't had any students at work and so on Monday I decided to tune in to the Today show. Oftentimes I imagine myself doing this in my fantasy world of being a stay-at-home wife/eventually mom: watching Matt Lauer and folding clothes and/or making coffee and eggs.

One segment on Monday was exceptionally disturbing. Plain and simple, it featured a Chinese attraction where the public can pay to see Siberian Tigers-in a facility intended for preservation and breeding-exist in restrained freedom. Here's the clincher. For some extra cash, visitors can be entertained by viewing the tigers being fed live prey: ducks, chicken, sheep, and, for 300 dollars, even a cow.

When I was a kid, trucks would pass my house filled with cows and return empty. After seeing the look in my mom's eyes when I questioned where all the cows were going, I cried. I totaled my first car by stopping for turkeys in the road. The stop just so happened to be too late and too near my friend's car. Many jokes have spawned from this unfortunate circumstance. My mother would tease that I would grow up to be a professional "Watch for Animal Crossing" sign distributor along our nation's roadways.

I eat meat, even if it is a rare occasion usually involving only turkey or chicken. I have a heart for the humane treatment of animals. I believe in capitalism and I do enjoy being entertained. However, I believe morals, integrity, and good, humane character decisions are not to be thrown out the window for the sake of capitalism and entertainment. I am appalled by the choices of the aforementioned Chinese tourist attraction. Watch the video and decide for yourself: entertainment or cruelty?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Welcome to Albemarle

My first time in Albemarle, home of Kelly Pickler. I'm not going to lie...I kind of hoped I would see her! Chad's uncle is pastoring a new (to him) church in Albermarle and today was his first Sunday. Chad and I accompanied his parents to listen to him speak. God gave him a great word! (Habakuk 1:5) The congregation was incredibly receptive toward his presence and I'm glad I got to experience this morning with Uncle Rick.

After the service we enjoyed some lunch with Rick and Chad's parents before visiting Rick's incredibly beautiful farmhouse. The home, approximately 110 years old, sits on 100 acres of farm land and the front of the house boasts a spacious wrap-around porch. Walking along the boards of the porch I could picture myself sipping lemonade, relaxing in one of the several rocking chairs, and flipping through the pages of a good book on an early summer evening. 


Bonus: there is a group of chickens keeping Rick company. I'm not normally a bird lover, but I warmed up to these little ladies. 

I'm working on ways to convince Rick to let me spend some time on his porch reading and writing-maybe a blog post or two! Wish me luck... :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

All the Livelong Day

Today was a success! After some great coffee and breakfast I spent some time tidying up the house. This may sound strange, but cleaning and organizing relaxes me. It helps me to feel more settled for the rest of the day knowing I've cleaned up a bit. 

Before Chad woke up I tapped into my arts and crafts spirit (it's hard to reach, but it's in there somewhere) and finished up some projects for my newspaper girls. Once Chad was up we measured and figured out what we'd have to buy for our day's home projects. I couldn't help but snap this photo of his new found "perfect helmet".

I had to creep from the loft so he wouldn't see me and ruin the photo op. I love the glimpses of the kid in him. 

Off to Lowe's we went for some shelving supplies, but not before I caught this little guy in what I have now come to refer to as his aerodynamic sleeping pose-I like to think he's dreaming of flying when he assumes this position. 

Yesterday he demolished my fourth pair of shoes-yes, FOUR! (And this pair was one of the replacement pairs...gosh!) I'm hoping this is just a puppy thing. The score is now: me 4, Chad 1; I don't think my wardrobe can take another hit. I still can't help but love the little monster. 

On the way back from Lowe's we stopped for some lunch at this fabulous little shindig that we've driven past many times but never actually stopped in. 

Good stuff that R & R Bar-B-Que.

So here are the new shelves in the laundry "nook". Our laundry is downstairs in our house, off of the kitchen. Folding doors make it convenient to quickly toss items here as a makeshift storage space and I've been dying to get rid of the clutter and chaos. I'm not completely done organizing, but the shelves are a huge help.

And our semi-finished downstairs half bath. (Where I was standing when I took the shelf photo.)

It's hard to capture the whole thing in one shot. I was aiming for a rustic French countryside look and I'm eyeing a few more pieces to finish it off. Chad also added some new shelves in the garage to replace the ones that so pleasantly crashed to the ground last week (paint in was a joyous night). The new shelves look awesome-he's quite the handyman. 

And we finished our day with some dinner and a movie with great friends. 

Lots of photos this time around. I hope you enjoyed :)

Saturday Fun

Saturday mornings hold a special place in my heart. Chad and I are (usually) both free on Saturdays with no place to rush off to. The morning usually begins with a cup of coffee before moving on to a house project or errands or maybe a long walk with Koda. Koda and I are getting some snuggling time in while Chad sleeps a little while longer-he's been waking up with me this week (TOO early)!

On our agenda today : more shelving in the laundry nook and some free standing wall shelves for the office. Photos to come. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Sweet South

Since moving to North Carolina I have experienced/discovered several new things (new to me) :

1. Sweet tea (go on and laugh it up native southerners...). My first exposure to sweet tea was by simple reference in Nicholas Sparks' novel Dear John when the two main characters enjoy a casual dinner with "the best sweet tea around". What the heck is sweet tea? I thought. I continued reading with little problem. It's just iced tea where I come from. I love it.

2. North Carolina is not all palm trees. Growing up in New York my exposure to "The South" was based on movie depictions of the (stereotypical) South and my travels to south all of its palm tree glory.

My move to North Carolina was rash and the time between the decision and actual move was all of two days. I thought since North Carolina was in the South, there'd be palm trees...everywhere. Not true.

3. There are good and bad people everywhere. But generally speaking, southerners are more pleasant people. I'm trying to become more like a true southerner.

4. The majority of youth in Charlotte, North Carolina don't have southern accents. It's sad really. If they do, they are faint. Nevertheless I will find a way to have children with darling little southern accents.

5. Summers are hot. Incredibly and brutally hot. Air conditioning is a glorious thing.

6. Food. New food I've been exposed to : hush puppies, shrimp and grits, grits (I do not like), gravy that is not really gravy and actually eaten at breakfast, biscuits, coleslaw (slaw) served on top of hot dogs, barbecue-which is actually a food and not the outdoor cooking device you make it on or the event of eating it-just the food, and so much more that I'm sure I will remember as soon as I post this.

7. Getting to know and sharing in the lives of beautiful women and roommates. Bethany Early Marum and I crammed both of our female lives into a one bedroom apartment for several months. You know you have a great friend when the friendship doesn't end after your cat pees on her stuff (repeatedly...I'm still really sorry!). Heather Boswell Gatch opened her gorgeous home to me as I looked for a new living situation that would be a better financial turn for me. Her home is fabulously decorated yet still charmingly cozy, she loves Friends and has one of the best movie collections, and she bakes cakes and offers leftovers-score! Thank you Heather for your hospitality and friendship. Mikala Hooper is the most uplifting and fun person to be around....ever. God's anointing is all over this woman and I enjoyed sharing my home with such a beautiful woman (inside and out). She survived my pre-wedding mania and is still my friend....this girl is amazing.

Then my pseudo roommate, Taylor Cote, who I have never actually lived with but have had two roommates in common with her and I feel like she deserves a shout out! AND, I want to plug her blog because she's adorable and her blog-covering fashion, fun, and her life in Cali-is incredibly entertaining and will leave you walking away with ideas for your home, closet, or belly. :)

Check this girl out:

Taylor Cote's sweet blog

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Living and Learning

Teaching is challenging, there is no way around that. It is also incredibly rewarding. The rewards are scattered here and there and sometimes you may go a while without seeing one, but they do show up.

This morning one of my classes took their final exam which covered all areas of study since the start of the semester in late January. The majority of the exam was multiple choice, but the last three questions were short answer, and more personal. High school is not just about grammar, spelling and literature but also-and most importantly-about living and learning. In short, students had to :

1) Recall their most memorable life experience, explain why it was memorable and how it has influenced their life and who they are today.

2) Share the best advice they ever received, convince me why it was the best advice and let me know whether or not they took it.

and lastly...

3) Complete a bucket list with at least ten things they want to do before they die (FYI : skydiving was the most popular aspiration).

Some insight into the lives of youth today...

One student-talkative but incredibly sweet-saw his father murdered right in front of his eyes. He told me he tries to forget that it ever happened but it's really, REALLY hard....

One boy was involved with a gang and spent time in jail for various reasons. He lived wildly while his ill mother fought for her life. Before she died she told her son, my student, she wants him to graduate high school and do well in life. Since that moment, this boy has changed his ways and is currently working toward graduating next June. (In a class discussion he even quoted scripture. I'm praying for another soul in heaven!)

One young lady is going to high school, working, and taking care of her mentally ill mother, alone.

Another sweet student has recently moved to Charlotte from New Orleans to live with her father. She moved because her mother died.

This teeny tiny girl, filled with the largest, joyous personality, almost drowned this past weekend before a lifeguard pulled her out of the water. She described her thoughts, as she struggled to stay above water, to be filled with the desire to tell her family how much she loved them and was sorry for not appreciating them as much as she should.

And one boy wants to marry a supermodel before he dies.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life Lesson # 2459235 ....

I almost titled this post "something-or-other Monday" and realized it's not actually Monday, just the first day back to work this week. Yippee to short work weeks!

As I was walking out to my car today after work I realized Chad is off work this week (it's an off week between the spring and summer sessions at Masterworks, the art school where he teaches). Normally he doesn't get home until late in the evening. Because it is absolutely blazing outside I reached for my phone to call and entice him to go to the pool with me. Of course I left it in my office and had to go retrieve it (glad I realized this snid-bit of information before leaving campus.) As the phone rang, I had a glorious thought: What if Chad did all of the chores around the house I was preparing to do when I got home?! I eagerly inquired about my wishful moment and was quickly disappointed that he did not read my mind and do what I hoped to do this evening. I was not nice. Consequently the phone call ended abruptly.

I called my mom to talk briefly about adult things (life insurance, blah blah blah...) and she told me to pray for my brother-in-law Chris. I hate when she starts stories this way because my mind immediately goes to worst case scenarios...he has a terminal illness, he lost a leg, his family died, he decided to become a Red Sox fan (worst possible thing in his world). Physically, Chris is fine. My mother informed me that a friend and colleague of Chris' committed suicide this morning after a dispute with his wife. Obviously there is more to the story than either of us will ever know, but I will tell you that I had a strong conviction thrown my way, because, well...let's face it....I had just been a jerk to Chad on the phone. Upon hearing my mother's news my heart broke for Chris, because he lost a dear friend, but also for the man's wife who is not only grieving but probably-to some degree-carrying around a heavy, heavy, weight. Here's hoping and praying the ultimate healer's power touches this woman's life.

My heart was hit with some lessons I thought I knew already: expectations without communication is bad news, words have more power than we realize (for good and for bad), savor with every fiber of your being those precious to you in your life today.

Chad did the dishes, laundry, cleaned the toilets, went grocery shopping, is currently cooking dinner, and bought me some of my favorite juice and ice cream. Gosh, I don't deserve him.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Memories

I just finished unpacking and putting things away from our little mountain getaway this weekend. Chad's parents recently built a fabulous mountain home right in the heart of the Smokey Mountains; Jonas Ridge to be exact. The house sits on the peak of the mountain; from the back porch you can see the sun rise, and on the front porch you can watch it set.

Any mountainous region possesses the same peaceful qualities. Nothing ever feels rushed. Chad's parents, Weston (his little brother), and Amanda (Weston's girlfriend) were there, and we even brought Koda along for the adventure. Chad and I woke up early today and enjoyed coffee and the crisp morning air on the back porch with his parents and the dogs (Max, the Keith family dog, was there too). We ate a full, delicious breakfast and then us "kiddos" headed out for an early afternoon stroll around Blowing Rock's quaint and cozy shops. I believe one of the greater things in life is enjoying a beautiful afternoon among antiques, one-of-a-kind decor pieces for the home, mountain folk, and Kilwan's ice cream-yum, yum!

(pistachio and kilwains tracks)

Most random find of the day: anti-fog goggles for dogs. (I'd like an explanation of the scenario in which such goggles would be used.) 

Dinner involved more great conversation over charcoal-grilled chicken kabobs. I haven't eaten that well in a while! It was sad to say goodbye to the family but perhaps even harder to bid farewell to the inviting mountain scene. On the way home Chad and I savored the last views of the landscape around us while singing along to some of our favorite tunes (okay....sang along...), and we remembered those who give up so much for us to enjoy our beautiful country. 

Alas, we are home. It's back to work tomorrow. The upside to that is I have two weeks left before summer vacation officially kicks off. Bring on more relaxing times with the family :)!

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day as much as I did. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Same Blog, New Location

Hey ya'll!

After a conversation with a sweet friend and fellow blogger, I decided to make a move to blogspot. My same simple purpose remains: to live, love, and share my experiences and meanderings with all those willing to read. I may be reposting some of my favorites from the old blog along with my new posts. 

Thanks for your faithfulness in following.

ps.  You must check out my friend's blog :


Permission to be "Old" Granted

I am twenty-six years old. Sometimes I don’t really believe myself when I say it out loud, but it’s true. In fact, if you browse under the “vintage” section of clothing items on Etsy, you may find some stellar 80′s ware-perhaps punctuated by the year of my birth. Really…”vintage”?!

My previous blog touched on the book Backwards in High Heels, well, here’s a bit more about it and its correlation to me. (I should get paid for these free plugs I’m sending their way.) The book is broken down into sections that feature various essays regarding life topics. One such chapter-twelve, I believe-is devoted to age, or the aging process. Essays range from humorous to touching, to anything the authors please. There is a chart on page 288 that lists about twelve items that you are granted permission to do when you’re “old”. (The definition remains open to interpretation.) I read these items-some reluctantly-outloud to my husband and mother while driving in the car. According to four of the criteria, I am “old”. I…

1. Am not embarrassed to go to bed at 9:30 pm, nightly. In my defense…I wake up at 5 am…you’d go to bed that early too if your alarm was in sync with mine.

2. Always have a book of stamps in my purse-mine are in my wallet. Why does this make me old? Got mail?-I’m simply prepared.

3. Wear socks to bed. Apparently “old” has many similarities to young and underpaid and trying to save on heating.

4. Listen to public radio. A quick and efficient alternative to catching the news, mind you, between 5:30 and 6 am on weekdays. Again, in self-defense, I am neither Republican or Democratic (Independent, I vote on personalities and issues, not partisan lines) and I have recently silenced NPR in the afternoons for the more optimistic and less cynical alternative: music.

So…I’m old. Or at least a quarter old-based on century aging lines and the chart on page 288. However, on Friday “jeans days” at school, from behind 95% of the Hopewell population thinks I’m a high school student. I’ll take what I can get.

Patterned Scarf

The music school where Chad teaches lessons, Masterworks School of the Arts, produces several show choir theatre performances each year. This past weekend Chad ran sound for the junior show choir’s production of Mulan. (I love that Christina Aguilera song “Reflection”-something-or-other, so pretty.) The school rents an auditorium for these shows on Main Street in Mooresville, North Carolina, a location that just so happens to be one of my favorite afternoon walking/antique shopping destinations. Yesterday I decided to drive up and enjoy Mulan while helping out the production crew, but not without a pit stop to my favorite shops first.

I wanted to begin at Ye Olde Mantel, a concoction of scattered trinkets and treasures, but could not find the storefront for the life of me. I eventually asked an elderly woman if she knew of the store and she pointed me directly across the street with a look on her face like as if I had three heads. The store is under new ownership and changed its name. To my delight, they kept some of the old pieces the original store housed, but a lot of their previous items-that made the store an adult playground-were gone. : /

Somewhat disappointed, I crossed to the east side of the street to scope out a small boutique with cute bags and scarves adorning the front display case. After perusing the store until five minutes after closing time  (I couldn’t make up my mind!) I settled on an elegant, yet spunky gold necklace and a patterned scarf. As I walked to the cash register-all the while chatting with the cashier-I had the urge to ask if they accepted cards. The cashier’s expression dropped as she said, “No, sweetie, just cash or checks. You do have a check on you, don’t you?” I did not, in fact, nor did I have over $3 and some change in cash; not enough for my purchase at hand.

Many thoughts raced through my mind. What kind of store was this that they don’t except cards? It’s 2011 for crying out loud. Soon I’ll be able to pay by scanning my thumb  print. If I went to the ATM to get cash I’d have to walk five blocks to my car, drive five more in the other direction, then drive back to pay the woman and end up being late for the play. Chad’s voice in my head told me to walk away. So, I did, but not without bashing the lady for her outdated practices (Inside my head, of course-don’t judge, it was a fabulous scarf!).

I immediately called Chad to prompt him to share in my frustration over the situation. It wasn’t until today that I sat back and looked at everything from a different perspective. What I enjoy most about Mooresville is the time warp you feel you’ve entered the minute you drive, walk, bike, rollerblade, skateboard up to Main Street. It takes you back to the days when you were a kid and piled in the back of the woody station wagon to travel to town to get penny candy, or an ice cream cone, or maybe both. You were never in any rush and there was a peace about the evening; no cell phones for people to reach you on, no facebook, twitter, or instagram to keep current on, just you and the peace of your company sharing in the setting of the summer sun. It’s a joyous feeling to visit Mooresville.

The cashier is no longer my retail rival but a testament to the days of old when time went slowly and days were simple.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Backwards in High Heels

I met one of my best friends in the entire world, Sarah, during my sophomore year in high school. Sar (as those close to her call her) and I immediately clicked, but our friendship grew stronger with the discovery of shared interests in: soccer, eclectic clothing, rock music, hour long road trips to the largest T.J. Maxx within driving distance, singing loudly with the windows down in my VW Jetta (R.I.P. sweet car), and so many other ridiculous things girls do.

Most memorably, Sar was by my side when I received the news that my brother had died. She cried with me, held me, and listened to my convoluted ramblings of a teenager trying to wade through grief for months on end. She never judged me and was always there. Sar’s birthday is on April 15 and I bought her a book that both epitomizes our current relationship and made me laugh out loud in Anthropologie. Two British authors penned the book “Backwards in High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female”. Sar and I laughed, cried, joked, snuck out of our houses, played soccer, talked, traveled, grew up, and survived together while trying to figure out what being a woman was all about in this crazy world-we were teenagers! This book is perfect for her, for us, so I bought it. What solidified my purchase was that part of the introduction reads, “The literary equivalent of conversations women have every week.”

Gosh I miss her! Sar lives in the town where we grew up, in New York, with her dashing Italian-born hubby and beyond beautiful daughter Giada (pronounced Jah-da)-while I enjoy North Carolina with my most amazing man.

Here’s to good friends and the understanding comfort that passes without words.