Getting around... sometimes

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

 Vespa, Rome.

 Bicycle, Rome.

 Botanical Gardens, Florence.

 Botanical Gardens, Florence.

Truck, Florence.



Doge's Palace, Venice.

Aboard the vaporetto, Venice.

Thomas on the vaporetto, Venice.

Thankful time, all the time

Monday, November 26, 2012

So as I sit on my couch eating a bowl of leftover garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, I realized I didn't write a "this year I'm OMG so thankful for" like every other blogger in America. So here it is. I am OMG so thankful (that's annoying. that will stop now.) for...

1. This guy. Look at him! He's adorable! Thomas is my bestest friend, the love of my life, and the person I kiss every night before I go to sleep. He's the guy who cleaned up our Thanksgiving feast, surprised me with Christmas lights when I came home tonight, patiently listens to my distracted rambling, says "I love you" at least 15 times a day, and (usually) is willing to go along with my harebrained plans. Thomas, you make me want to be the best I can be, every day.

2. These two people and the family they've created. These are my parents. And they're super. And along with them, my sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family, grandparents- they are all incredible people who have made me into a far better person.

3. My therapy dogs. Moby (Moebs) and Otto (Ott-Bot) are nuts, as evidenced by their crazy mountain behavior this weekend (long story). But there are few humans who are as consistently loving and patient as they are. Everyday, they say "HELLO! WE ARE SO SUPER GLAD YOU WOKE UP!! LET'S POOP AND THEN EAT! CAN WE PLAY? LET'S PLAY!! YAY!" Yes. Always at that decibel level too.

4. These two weeks. Travel makes me so happy. Giddy- skipping through the streets of Rome. I'm gushing "Look at this painting! Look at that neoclassical style! Doric! Ionic! Corinthian! Palladio! Where's Thomas?" Religion and art-history studying daughter of two people who went to architecture school, right here. Turns out that it works fairly well with a marriage to an engineer. I just have to also act very excited about how it was built. But Thomas and I know now why people go on honeymoons. And we decided to stay married.

5. Living in the Charleston area. At the beginning of the year, we weren't sure how much longer we were going to be here, but we got to stay! This place is as much a part of me as family, and it's nice to hold on to that a bit longer before moving to other ports. Also, I'm always a fan of water and large swings in public spaces.

6. This day. Because that day lead to this life. This life may be busy, crazy, unexpected, different... but it is mine. I relish every day that I get to live here. This is where God wants me, this is where I am blessed to be.

Because I'm really excited about Christmas...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas tags! Everyone is always looking for a way to save a little money around the holidays. There are thousands of Pinterest links to Christmas gifts you can make, things to do, but here's a little holiday inspiration from me. This is not fancy, it doesn't take a lot of time or money, and can be totally personalized with stuff you already have in your house.

What you'll need:
-paper scraps (I used anything I could find- paper grocery bags, scrap paper, construction paper, scrapbook paper, can use old Christmas cards, cereal boxes, etc)
-pens (gel pens, rollerball, whatever suits you)
-alphabet stamps (optional- can get for $1 at large craft supply chains)
-paper tape (see sources below)

I made over 200 tags (yes Mom, I have yours). The options are endless- depends on how you write, use tape, make little drawings. This really isn't a tutorial. Just inspiration that super creative, or super frugal, you can save a bit and have cool Christmas tags.

I love me some washi tape. Most of my tape isn't actually Japanese, but it does the trick. "Printed paper tape," how about that? You can put it on everything! Sources: Martha Stewart (at Michael's), Todd Oldham's Kid Made Modern (at Target), Target's office supply section (best deal- 4 big rolls of tape for $4), and a few other places. Target, Michael's has a small selection,, even Marshall's on occasion. has the best selection of tape from Japan.

Green scrapbook paper & stamps; red cardstock and teal paper tape from Target; leaf paper from a school art project & red paper tape from Target.

 Tear, overlap, or cut your tape to create cool patterns.

 If you're not crafty- the tape does all the work. If you are, go back and add little drawings or sayings. (And aren't we happy that I photographed a project during the day? I know. Thrilled.)

P.S. Sorry for the many changes in blog appearance. I was a bit fed up with the last look, so I've been tinkering with it until I'm happy. I think I finally am!

Fabric Covered Toms

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I have three pair of toms- one dingy olive, some purple thumbprint ones, and a pair of suede canvas booties that I got before Italy. The olive ones and the thumbprint ones are sad. Very sad. But also worn in perfectly. At the moment, I don't have $45 to drop on a new pair. Since the sadness in appearance is only aesthetic, not structural, I thought that this tutorial from Handmade Homemaker would be perfect for bringing new life to my Toms and dipping into my fabric stash. The only thing I had to buy was the glue (about $3.50 at Michael's).

They got a much coveted "pretty sweet" review from my husband, so I'm proud. I'm contemplating a bit of embroidery (tiny bit), but we'll see. The tutorial was excellent. The few things I'd add: Cut your pieces out completely before gluing. Measure as closely as possible. Better to err larger than smaller, though.

Perhaps my friends will let me cover theirs... please?

Italian Doors and Doorways

Wednesday, November 14, 2012



Pantheon, Rome

St. Peter's, Vatican City

Baptistry Doors, Florence



Ghiberti's Doors, Florence



The Doge's Palace, Venice

Also, if anyone knows how to watermark photos, I would be very grateful for some help in that area.

Monday's Mix Tape

Monday, November 12, 2012

1. The Black Key's "Gold on the Ceiling." I know, controversy galore over the changing of their sound, but this song still makes me dance every time I hear it. Don't you want to rock out?

2. The Lumineer's "Ho Hey." One night at bible study/life group, we were all singing this song- but all at different points- whatever we had gotten stuck in our head! I'll be dancing to this one too.

3. "Some Nights" by Fun. Fun. is all over the radio, and this song is so addicting! I'm sure you've heard it by now. Thomas and I have a great deal of fun singing along to this in the car. Dogs run away in horror when we get to the falsetto. :)

4. "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan. One of the best songs ever from a great movie.

5. "The Other Side" by Bruno Mars. Can you tell I like to dance on my Mondays?

What's on your Monday playlist?

Inexplicable Madness

Sunday, November 11, 2012

There are some days that make it next to impossible not to scream out loud in frustration. This was one of those days. There was an ill-fated trip to Target to get socks for Thomas that led to me having a panic attack on the drive home (which, let me tell you, is not the time to be having panic attacks). There were a couple of sweet puppies who, in an attempt to cheer up their very sad mum, ended up licking salty tears away, only to jump up and conk very bony heads against my skull. Ouch.

There were a few high points- going to the dog park on a lovely day, scoring a book of $30 worth of coupons, finding a cookie jar on clearance (I've always wanted a cookie jar), and because of the panic attack and the cookie jar- having my husband suggest we have cookies for dinner. (We ended up with a 50/50 split of cookies and macaroni and cheese. Blog title win.)

The last couple months have been really tough for me. I've been battling some hard stuff and I'm not too sure how to broach the subject. I've been experiencing symptoms that I last dealt with years ago, and suffice it to say these are not pleasant things. The panic attack alone should tell you that. I've been fighting a losing battle with my memory as well, and I'm praying things take a turn for the better soon. I am asking for your prayers, your thoughts, and your well wishes. Please.

Thanks friends.

Roman Holiday Pasta

Friday, November 9, 2012

While our trip to Italy - yes, pictures soon - was not as fancy as Audrey Hepburn's, it was delicious. This is copied from a delicious pasta we had in Rome. We were headed to the Vatican for the afternoon and we stopped at this little cafe that only had one option for lunch- this pasta. That's it. One thing. And it was amazing. Thomas and I each downed a huge bowl. It couldn't be easier to make, so I'll tell you how!

-Extra virgin olive oil
-2 fresh pears (yes, I know there are three pictured)
-Pecorino Romano cheese (we only had parmesan here. When I do it again, I will make it with the Pecorino, but parmesan still works great.) Please do not use the canned stuff. I promise, the deli price will be worth it!
-5 slices of thick bacon, the best you can get
-Penne pasta

Quantities are for two people, but this is great for just one or for a whole crowd.

1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. For the two of us, I used less than half a box (1/2 pound). It was more than enough.

2. While it boils and cooks, cut your pears into small chunks- nickel sized.

3. Cut your bacon before you cook it- also into nickel sized chunks {the goal is to have pear, pasta, and bacon all on your fork, without looking like a mess while eating}. I found it easiest to do with kitchen shears.

4. In a large saute pan, cook your bacon. This won't take long. Just before it is done, add your pears, a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and a quarter cup of grated Pecorino. Stir and let it cook for maybe 2 minutes or less. Don't cook the pears too much. Turn off the heat.
Update: if your pears are fully ripe and already very soft, I would NOT throw them in the skillet! They might get too mushy. Just toss them with your pasta after everything else is done. I still like my pears a little firm, so I cook them, but it's up to you!

5. Drain your cooked pasta. Toss your pasta in the pan, adding some more cheese. You want a little melted cheese flavor. Stir all of the ingredients.

6. Separate into bowls and layer in your pasta with more cheese, to taste.

Eat with your eyes closed, and pretend you're in Rome.

Pears seem a little weird for pasta, but the unexpected freshness and flavor makes this easy pasta great for a lunch. The Pecorino (the cheese the dish was served with in Rome) is worth finding. We were able to find it at our local grocery store. It is similar to parmesan, but makes a slightly non-traditional flavor. The freshly grated taste makes all the difference.

Channel some carbonara and add some pepper. There are a million ways to spin off this dish. Make it into something heavier and entree-like with some grilled shrimp or chicken. Even beef, if you're brave. At the least, have fun mixing up your pasta routine!

Why you should vote anyway

Monday, November 5, 2012

First, I'll concede to certain facts about our political system, then you can listen to my petition.

1. The American political system is not great- but it is safe. The two party system leaves a bit to be desired, in my opinion. We go with words like "liberal" and "conservative"- but the Democrats aren't that liberal and the Republicans aren't that conservative. The two parties are closer in ideals than they'd like to present. But the fact of the matter is that it's very hard for ultra conservatives or liberals to get very far. Great screw-ups are harder to come by, and whether you're red or blue, you can agree that we're not perfect, but our political climate is safe.

2. Your vote won't count. Gosh, this is the one I hear allllll the bloody time. I live in a red state so my vote won't count anyway. I live in a blue state so it has to be that way. Well, yes and no. I live in South Carolina, so I'm far from knowing what the excitement and thrill of living in a swing state is like, nor do I know what it's like to live around liberal people. SC has voted Republican in every election since 1964 (except 1976 when it went rogue for Jimmy Carter).

Here's why you should vote anyway.

1. Because the presidential election isn't the only thing that you vote on!!

I know!! Craziness!!

Believe it or not, we have elections every year. Also, there are other people responsible for making decisions in our country- the House and the Senate. (Okay, I know, too much sarcasm. Sorry.) Your state and county governments are also pushing issues as well. In addition to several positions, I'm also voting on School Board spending and an issue in the State constitution. I think you should believe in the power of your vote. If people did, we could be a country of swing states- and that would make election night even more fun.

2. Because people died for this right. It's a right. A privilege that many people in the world do not have. Even in our own country, women and minorities had to fight for years to have a say in elections. In many areas of our government, they have had a harder time getting into office. It's something our military members have fought to protect as well. I was hoping this section would be filled with something moving and articulate, but all I can think to say is that people have given their lives to give this to you. To protect their country, to protect your freedoms. I hope that moves you.

{And it may sound silly to some of you, but I think it would be great to see a woman become the president. In fact, I think it's silly that it hasn't happened already. America is so far behind on this one...}

3. America is not a democracy. We are a Republic. Our power as the people is firm. It is our duty to try to elect sound leaders to make decisions for our country. It is our duty to vote directly on the things we are able to vote on directly as well. Our country allows so many opportunities to vote. It's overwhelming and often too much for people to handle. But it's so important! If you're over 18, you're not in prison or convicted of a felony, plus a few other things, you can vote.

4. An extremely firm opinion of mine- if you are legally able to vote, and you do not, you have no say about anything you could have had the power to change. Sorry, but if you could have voted, but you choose not to, you shouldn't have the right to complain. At least not to me. I don't care if your candidates won or lost- if you voted, you participated in the democratic process.

5. You get a sticker. Stickers are cool.

Just remember...

To vote wisely. I am not advocating willy-nilly arbitrary voting. Do your homework. Google your state and county and "ballot 2012" and you can usually pull up a website that shows the ballot, candidates, and issues you'll be voting on tomorrow.

There are rules. Every county and state has guidelines to make sure everyone can vote. You normally have a precinct and specific voting location. However, the State mandates the rules. In South Carolina, you have to be registered 30 days before the election. You have to bring your voter's registration card with you, and your ID. But in North Dakota (according to Wikipedia), you don't have to be registered (the only state). Please don't harass the poll workers. I was one for several years. Don't be mean to them. Follow the rules.

So go out. Grab a book and stand in line.

Rock the vote.

Rock your vote.