Seventeen things that you probably don’t (but might) know about me

1. Car naps > Bed naps. Anyday.

2. I have quite possibly THE loudest refrigerator in the world. I can’t hear my husband from five feet away when it is “running.”

3. I have a freakish obsession with Mario Party video games.

4. I also have a freakish obsession with peanut butter and sour patch kids. But not together.

5. I bake something sweet at least four times per week. This is perhaps yet another freakish obsession.

6. I have always and forever wanted brown contacts. Since I was like 9. I still don’t have them. 😦

7. I am frequently seen wearing fake nails. I hate fake nails. I wear them because I pick incessantly at my fingernail skin, and fake nails are the cheapest solution.

8. I hate wearing formal dresses. My body does not work with them.

9. I was born without two permanent teeth. So was my grandma, and her grandma, too.

10. I like to knit sleepmasks.

11. I HATE interior decorating. Like, for real. I could care less.

12. I LOVE meerkats. Omg. Adorable. I wish I could have one (or eight) as a pet.

13. Growing up, I was freakishly obsessed with both dolphins and Enrique Iglesias. Not at the same time, thankfully. My bedroom would not have been able to handle that madness.

14. I think that Anne Lamott is the most fabulous writer ever. (Ok…you probably knew that one if you have read any of my previous posts)

15. I intentionally wear mismatched socks. I think it looks cool and adds to my individualism.

16. I am a libertarian. Well, technically a minarchist? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minarchism

17. Last one. I WANT TO GO TO MACHU PICCHU SO SO SO BAD!!!! It will happen one day. 🙂

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27 years wiser

So yesterday was my birthday. It wasn’t “fabulous,” as most people wished it to be, because I had to be at school from 7:30am-8:30 pm (dang school open houses—don’t they know to plan those around my birthday?), BUT there were a few high points. Namely, Kripsy Kreme and Taco Bell.

I can’t decide which was better.

I got out of school at 8:30 last night and was starving. I knew I wanted Taco Bell, but the Krispy Kreme was an added bonus. You see, as I was headed towards Taco Bell, I saw, from far in the distance, that bright red Krispy Kreme “hot donuts” sign lit up. This was a birthday miracle. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING tops a hot krispy kreme donut. (well, maybe a fudgy brownie with melted peanut butter, ice cream, and caramel on top..or nachos and salsa from El Sazon..but that’s beside the point). It was amazing.

THEN, I went just directly across the street to Taco Bell. Now Taco Bell is one of those places that is hit-or-miss. It is rare to get “good” Taco Bell. It is even more of a rarity to get “awesomely amazing” Taco Bell. Well, last night’s was beyond awesomely amazing. Triple Layer Nachos, Chalupa, and Cinnamon Delights (yes, I did have two desserts from two different places—hey, it was my birthday! 😉 Overall, amazing.

Then I got home and literally crashed on the love sac. All in all, a busy, yet delicious, birthday 😉

yum 3+

yum 4+yum+yum 2=

Amazingness.

PS: I did have a “fancy” birthday dinner with John at Olive Garden on Wednesday, since we both had to work late Thursday. This was also delectable, however, as aforementioned in this post, nothing can top Krispy Kreme. 😉

A new Thanksgiving tradition

Today John and I started a new Thanksgiving tradition that I am already in love with. We went out to a Christmas tree farm and got a REAL Christmas tree.

There are many reasons why I am already in love with this tradition. Namely because I LOVE real Christmas trees. Growing up, my family would always go out and get a Christmas tree at the local Christmas tree farm, and this was great. BUT, I never got the final say on which Christmas tree was chosen. Usually my mom did, because she was the pickiest out of all of us when it comes to Christmas trees. She wanted one that was the perfect height, color, shape, and fullness. Super high expectations.

Well, today I discovered that I am EXACTLY like her in this respect. I mean, I knew going into the Christmas-tree-picking-process that I would be picky..but I didn’t know that it would take me 1.5 hours to decide on one…HA.

However..I am absolutely in love with the one we chose. It is a white pine..with the perfect shape, perfect fullness, perfect color. It’s just so dang CUTE! I went back and forth…literally…between this baby and a douglas fir. And of course the two I liked the most were on complete opposite sides of the tree farm. Go figure. Luckily, I had a “gem” in my coat pocket to use as a “marking” on the ground by the douglas fir. This came in very handy.

But in the end, the white pine just screamed Christmas. I know that they are much more messy and nearly impossible to hang ornaments on..but the thought of coming home with any tree other than that one just seemed like infidelity in its rawest form.

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So, we cut that sucker down and loaded her up in the truck. We got her home and found out she’s quite crooked on top—but that’s ok. I still love her just as much. Now I get to make popcorn-and-berry garland to string around her..and am SUPER excited about this. Yay for new holiday traditions!!!!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions??  😉

Update: Decorated tree pics below:

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There are 16 different settings for the lights!!!!

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Close-up of the popcorn and cranberry garland 🙂

Kitties

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Back in June, I awoke one night to the sound of newborn kitty cries underneath our bedroom. They were the cutest kitty cries ever. I just KNEW that one of the kitties had to be gray and super furry.

I listened to their cries for about a week but never saw them. I went up to Michigan for nearly two months during the summertime and wondered if I would ever get to put a furry face to the irresistibly cute meows.

I did. When I got home from Michigan, I pulled into the driveway to see five furry faces hiding under our front porch!! I was SO excited that they had stuck around and waited all summer for me to come home!! (ok, I know this wasn’t their real motivation for sticking around—John had been feeding them Vienna sausages all summer..)

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I soon realized that only four of them were kittens—one was their very petite mama. But sure enough, all of the kitties were SUPER FURRY and one was even GRAY!!! There were two who looked like twins—white and yellow, and the runt of the litter was an (OHMYGOODNESS) calico!!!!

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK, so I know I said that I desperately wanted a gray kitty, but once I laid eyes on calico, she instantly became my new favorite. Oh my goodness. So little, so furry, so calico-y! Absolutely a-dorable. (I mean they are all adorable, but Cali takes the cake)

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John’s favorite was the gray one—and it is so funny because his favorite kitty has the EXACT personality of him: bold, big, and leader of the pack. My favorite, Cali, is exactly like me: timid, slow, scared of everything, and a total “cuddler.” Hilarious.

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Yhetti

John’s kitty, Moses 2 as we like to call him, is so adventurous that he even comes inside the house sometimes. I am so ready for Cali to be this adventurous. All I want for Christmas is to cuddle with Cali.

I love our porch kitties. They make me smile every time I open the door to go outside or when I come home from school. They have become a part of the family 😉 I just PRAY they don’t ever decide to pick up and move (or cross the road 😦 ). Let’s hope the allure of a lifetime supply of Vienna sausages keeps them here for good 😉

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From left to right: Cali, Yhetti, Moses 2, Spag

Apple Fritters

Last night we made apple fritters with fritter mix and apple butter from the Apple Barn. It was deeeelicious.

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John asked if I wanted help making them, and I quickly replied yes. Thank goodness he offered, because without his help these fritters would’ve been frotters. (not to be confused with the urban dictionary definition of “frotters”)

He takes his time when he cooks—like a true southerner—never rushing, always patient. I, on the other hand, am a northerner at heart..and want things done now. Or five minutes ago. This can be a detrimental mindset in the kitchen (I tend to undercook things :/).

When my best-friend-from-college, Lauren, came to visit me a few weeks ago, we ventured up to the always-busy-with-millions-of-tourists Pigeon Forge. We ate at the Apple Barn, which is my favorite favorite place in Pigeon Forge. They serve you FREE apple fritters, apple butter and apple julep. YUM. The combination of warm apple fritters with chilled apple butter is indescribably delicious. Again, I am not a very fruity-dessert type of person..but dang..these sure hit the spot.

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from left to right: apple fritters, apple butter, apple julep

So naturally I had to buy some apple fritter mix and apple butter from the Apple Barn General Store after brunch with Lauren. I am a little surprised that I actually waited a whole month to make these babies at home.

Thanks to John’s help and patience in the kitchen, these fritters turned out PERFECT. Deep golden brown, cake-y insides, sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar. Spoon some apple butter onto those bad boys and you are instantly in fritter heaven. Amazing.

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We totally ate the ENTIRE JAR of apple butter with only ¼ of the fritter mix. Uh-oh. I guess this means that we will just need to make another trip to the Apple Barn ASAP so we can get more apple butter to go with the remainder of the fritter mix 😉

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applefrits3

applefrits

love her 🙂

Apple Dumplins

I had never even HEARD of apple dumplings til I moved to the South (this is SUCH a travesty to me). I was introduced to them by John’s grandma, Linda. She brought them to a Christmas dinner one year and I was in heaven. See, I am not an apple person. Fruity desserts do not easily phase me. But when I had my first bite of this absolute deliciousness, that all changed. Oh. My. Goodness.

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These are SO SO SO ridiculously easy to make. AND they only require TWO APPLES! (which is amazing to me..considering that MOST apple dessert recipes require AT LEAST eight to ten apples—which you have to peel, and core, and slice…ugh.) You just peel and cut up the two  apples into eighths, wrap three-ish slices in each crescent roll, and bake this for about 14ish minutes.

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While these are baking, you melt together on the stovetop: orange juice (weird sounding, I know—but just wait and see… 😉 ), sugar, real butter (oh yea—in stick form…none of that nasty margarine in our house!), and the key key KEY ingredient: pure vanilla. (I refuse to buy anything other than Spice Island’s pure vanilla…aka pure amazingness.)

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Then you pour all that gooey goodness AROUND the dumplings that have been cooking for a bit (not on top of the dumplings or they will get soggy!!) and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon, cook for about 20 more mins, and BAAM…there they are…just staring at you and BEGGING to be eaten. (although they are still ridiculously hot at this point..so don’t eat them quite yet ;)) Give them about 30 minutes to chill, and then scoop one out and add a side of vanilla ice cream to it. Oh. My. Goodness. This is most definitely in my top 3 favorite desserts of all time. I hope you try it 😉

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Here is a link to the actual recipe so you don’t have to guesstimate the measurements:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/grandmas-apple-dumplings/

Chimney Tops

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me about to die

The name itself sounds intimidating. And the hike was every bit as intimidating as the name.

I don’t remember who chose this hike. It definitely wasn’t me. But the allure of the views and being in nature with close friends was enough to drag me in (and keep me dragging along that awful, treacherous, yet beautiful trail).

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Halfway through the hike up, me and Becky made a pact to never, ever, under any circumstances, hike this trail again. It was a blood pact. Shannon thought we were crazy at first, but then joined the pact on the way back down.

This hike was rough. When I say rough, I mean hell. It’s only 2 miles one way—but it feels more like 8. Also…there are a million “stairs” (not real stairs—natural nature-y stairs) to climb…they are never-ending.

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the “rock stairs” look cute and innocent in this photo..but are oh-so-deceptive

Once you get to the “top,” you risk life and limb to get to the very very “top.” (which from now on will be referred to as the “top top”) To do this, you must scale a large, vertical boulder. Without cables. Death is imminent. Ok, maybe not death..but major injuries.

Major injuries are imminent.

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so steep…

Becky and Rebecca decided to go to the “top top,” while Shannon and I wallowed in a crevice halfway up the boulder. My palms were sweating blood just from the mere thought of climbing to the “top top.” (they are even sweating now as I write about this adventure)

 Finally…I mustered enough confidence to scale that beast…to show it who was boss. (And to show everyone on facebook how bad-a I was) So I did it. By myself. There is one section where I literally began to cry. It was that scary. I just kept praying “help, help, HELP!” (one of the three essential prayers..according to my favorite author Annie). But I made it to the “top top”..and I am so proud of myself for that.  I said “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!” to God (another one of the three essential prayers). The view was…breathtaking. “WOW.” (the final essential prayer…had to include them all in this post so you weren’t left hanging (like I was on that cliff..))

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scaling the beast…Becky beat me

Fall colors are my favorite. It looked like a scene out of an animated movie where they finally finally reach the “promised land.” (I am mostly thinking of “Once Upon a Forest” here. If you have not seen this..rent it/buy it/download it now—you furling!)

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look at that view..

Am I glad I hiked Chimney Tops? Yes. Am I glad I climbed to the “top top?” Yes. Will I ever do it again? HECK NO. Never in my wildest dreams. Thank you Jesus for protecting me. AND thank you Shannon for making my butt get up to the top top! (And Shannon made it to the top, too!! YAY!)

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Shannon at the “top top”

The Enchantment

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My baby

The first time I heard this song, I literally fell under an enchantment. I was going for a brisk stroll at a park that I love and never get to go to—Springbrook—when this piece; “The Enchantment,” came up on Pandora. The moment I heard the first three notes of the piece my mouth literally dropped opened in awe. And it literally stayed open in awe for the whole five minutes of the song. It was that magnificent to me. I even dared to close my eyes during parts of the song—running the risk of bumping into a fellow passerby with my mouth wide open (that would be embarrassing).

I was trying to imagine who in the world wrote such a beautiful piece of music; and who in the world enchanted him so?! Then I got really mad that I didn’t write this song..it just encompassed every single component of the absolute most perfect piano piece ever–waltzy, melancholy, tons of black keys, hauntingly beautiful. OK, Evgeni’s Waltz is also the absolute most perfect piano piece ever, and Clair de lune, too. I just can’t pick one..that would be unfair. All three are tied for first place in my book.

Back to “The Enchantment.” Halfway through the song I knew that this would be the next song I’d learn on piano. It just had to be. You see, I need A LOT of inspiration to learn a song on piano. I mean, a ton a ton. I am just naturally an extremely unmotivated person. There has to be something great in return for me to learn something new. This is why I go through months of not even touching the piano, and then a month of playing it every day in order to learn a new song.

Learning a song for the first time on piano is one of the most spiritual things in the world to me. Alone in my house at night, with only the sound of my 100 year old piano (and the rattling 100 year old refrigerator that desperately needs to be replaced..but that’s besides the point ;)). Its magical. When you begin learning the first few notes of a song that you are absolutely over-the-moon in love with…I can’t even describe it. It usually brings me to tears. ESPECIALLY when I am learning the song by ear rather than by sheet music. And that’s how I started to learn “The Enchantment” tonight.

I looked up the sheet music for the piece on the internet, but it was 14 DOLLARS!! That is A LOT of money for sheet music. So tonight, 2ish months after hearing the song for the first time (gosh how I wish I could go back to that day when I first heard it…), I said screw it…I am going to try learning it by ear. I kept putting it off because I had NO freaking clue how the left hand was supposed to go..its really hard to hear that part in the song. The right hand is crystal clear..but the left hand..no clue. But I said OK, let’s try this. So I kept listening and listening to the song on my phone and figured out the key the song is in. Then I figured out the right…AND LEFT hand for the first few notes! Before I knew it I had figured out the right and left hand notes for the first 1:13 of the song. YAYYYYY!!!! But now I REALLY have no clue what comes next…so I may be having to pay that 14 dollars anyways.. LOL..I’ll say it’s an early Christmas present to myself 😉

If you want to check out this AMAZING song, click below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv2GlfnzqUY

If you want to hear my first attempts at the beginning of the song (warning: bad filming/sound quality), here you go:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxc9zy50W40

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She’s just so dang beautiful…

Why I am writing

I started this blog because my favorite author always says that writing a little bit every day helps you to forgive yourself. I find this idea extremely confusing…yet intriguing. I also love how she (Anne Lamott) gives you permission to write really really crappy first drafts. This inspired me. A real and famous author said that I am allowed to write really crappy and it’s ok. YES.

This takes the pressure off of me being the perfectionist that I usually tend to be. In fact, I am positive that I will have at least one blog entry about how annoying bad grammar and punctuation is (at least in the professional world). Here in blogworld, bring on the misused punctuation and horrific grammar;;;; ¡woo hoo!

Back to writing to help forgive yourself…I don’t understand how in the world that is supposed to work. I know that it will, because Anne Lamott said it, and everything that Anne Lamott says goes.

Has anyone else discovered this to be true? Does writing really help you to forgive yourself?? (I am extremely skeptical)

annieAnne Lamott aka Annie aka best author EVER

Salt addict.

I am a self-proclaimed salt addict. I don’t really know how it happened; I know it was a slow and drawn-out process and then suddenly one day I found my ring-finger too large for my ring. (this is a problem) What was the culprit? Salt. Evil, delicious, salt.

I would like to believe that my salt addiction began when I moved to the South..5 years ago. Prior to then, salt was merely an optional additive to food—not a “necessity.” Now..I can’t eat ANYTHING without salt. (well, I lied—fruits and chocolate are just fine without it 😉 I made chicken and dumplings a few weeks ago and guess what–they tasted like salt. Pure salt in liquid and dumpling form. This, I must admit, was disgusting. I vowed to re-make the chicken and dumplings so that I could actually taste the chicken…and dumplings. This time I added much less salt..and it tasted like bland, school-lunch chicken and dumplings. Sad. Sad indeed.

I need to cut back on salt…I know this to be true. But now its in my blood (literally). I think it is IMPOSSIBLE to quit salt cold turkey (believe me..I have tried multiple times..and always end up OD-ing on salt shortly (mere hours) afterwards). So instead, I am going to try and love myself more and in that same slow, drawn-out method which first got my caught up in this salty mess, I am going to slowly; oh-so-slowly, cut back on my salt intake. Instead of shaking the salt shaker over my dinner plate 18 times, I am only going to shake it 16. This will be very dramatic for me. I am sure signs of withdrawl will become evident in my behavior (grumpiness; sleepiness; seeking other means of salt-acquisition (aka eating foods that are already SUPER HIGH in sodium without me having to add additional salt to them). Gosh…am I doomed to failure as a salt-addict forever? I hope not. If you see me in-person with a salt-shaker (or canister) at hand—grab it from me…then take me to salt rehab (menchie’s). Thank you in advance. 🙂

salt   <–My drug of choice