Gregory Alan Isakov in concert

I have a short list of artists I want to see in concert. As a fan of not wasting time or money, I’m picky. There are two bands I will always pay money to see in person: The Killers and Mumford & Sons. I’ve seen both of them twice and will see Mumford again in a few months.

However, there are two other artists who’ve been on my list to see, and one nearly happened last year. I bought tickets for Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats as a birthday gift to Chuck last year, but a work conflict left us unable to go, so I sold the tickets and put them back on the To See Live list.

The other artist was Gregory Alan Isakov, a singer/songwriter who’s less well known than the other three. I stumbled upon his music in 2013 when I started working on my first novel. I wanted calm, steady background music, and after perusing iTunes for a bit I found “The Stable Song.” That was it. I was hooked.

Several albums later, I listen to his music when I’m driving long distances or settling in for a long bout of work or writing. It soothes me, and I love his lyrics. Until recently, I never considered that I’d catch him on tour near me, but when his last album dropped and I checked the tour schedule, voila! He was going to be in several cities within easy driving distance. I had to make it work.

I bought tickets for the only weekend show I could attend, this one in Asheville. My parents could keep the boys, and Chuck and I could make a weekend out of it. Perfect.

Then came the flu.

Jackson woke up Monday morning with a fever, something that’s happened only a few times in his life. I might be tempting fate here, but we are rarely sick. Maybe once a year? Once every other year? We already had an appointment scheduled on Tuesday to establish with a new family doctor, and funnily enough, it was my suggestion to test him for the flu. (The nurse said it looked like Strep.) It came back positive, and she came back into the room with facemasks.

Wednesday morning Jeremy woke up groggy, sniffly, and that’s when I decided the concert that Saturday was for sure not happening for me. What if we all got sick? What if we starting falling like dominos, one right after the other? I canceled our AirBNB, told Mom she was off the hook, and wondered how I could sell my concert tickets.

However, by Wednesday night Jackson was fever-free and Jeremy seemed fine. We were all on Tamiflu as a preventative, and the illness I felt confident was coming our way didn’t seem to be showing up. By Thursday night, I was heartbroken, the irony not lost on me. We didn’t succumb to the flu, for which I was grateful, but the upcoming weekend in Asheville was a bust.

Enter my sweet friend, Kori, who offered herself up as a traveling companion along with a hotel room via points. She had no clue who this Gregory guy was, but she was game. I argued with her, stupidly, but then I realized she was giving me a precious gift and I’d be foolish to reject it. Chuck stayed home with the boys (Jackson still had a smoker’s cough), and off Kori and I went to Asheville.

The Orange Peel is a small venue with mostly standing room, though there were a few barstools in the back for those who showed up early. I was not interested in standing for two hours, nor was Kori, and mercifully, there were two stools available when we made it inside.

I kept telling her that it would be a mellow concert, that his music was so chill that you could practically fall asleep to it. Sure enough, at one point during the concert, Gregory joked that he’s popular at preschool naptimes and yoga studios. ūüôā

I’d checked the set lists from his previous concerts, and he regularly started with “She Always Takes it Black,” which is a favorite of mine. As soon as he took the stage, he strummed a few lines of music that everyone recognized as that song, and we all cheered.

He played a handful of favorites, and despite a few tall people who kept standing in front of us, I was pleased with the whole event. I’m not sure my phone captured the sound perfectly, but in person he sounded just like he sounds on his albums.

The encore was “The Stable Song,” and everyone sang along.

I don’t need to see him again unless he actually comes here (then I’ll want to), but I’m grateful for Kori’s willingness to tag along, for Chuck’s willingness to hang back, and for the opportunity to scratch Gregory off my To See Live list. It was all worth it.

BrickUniverse LEGO Convention

When word got out that a LEGO convention was coming to Knoxville, Jeremy insisted we attend. As if there was any doubt! We love LEGOs in this house. It’s¬†one of the few¬†things I enjoy playing alongside my boys, as well as the LEGO video games (LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Marvel, etc.). We bought our tickets as soon as they went on sale, so it was a long summer countdown to the last weekend in August.

The first section of displays were¬†cityscapes, impressive constructions that required hundreds of hours of concentration. Here’s Chicago:

LEGO County Fair and concert:

 

I love that the professional LEGO builders have a sense of humor. Always look for the hidden gems in every display. For example, this looks like a regular LEGO town:

But the Avengers are always watching:

Apparently Princess Leia and Darth Vader have an office above Starbucks:

LEGO Mardi Gras:

Emmet and Wyldstyle at Mardi Gras:

C3PO and R2D2 in a standoff at Mardi Gras:

Any Lady Gaga fans out there?

Jeremy was particularly in awe of the ginormous, eight-story Death Star:

However, the vendor Jeremy and his friends were most looking forward to seeing was BrickMania, a group who builds and sells custom historical scenes, vehicles, ships, and other paraphernalia. Here is their version of the USS Nicholas:

Of course, they also have a sense of humor:

Here were my favorites:

1980s LEGO Minifigures!

Jeremy and Foster participated in a building contest where they were given a mishmash of random LEGO bricks and told to construct a house. A younger kiddo won their round, to which they replied, “That was rigged! They let the little kid win cause he was cute.”

For those uninterested in competition, there were dozens of tables scattered throughout the room with loose bricks for building:

All the kids had a great time! They even let me snap a group photo on the way out:

Until next time!

 

 

CS Lewis Doodles

For those of you embarking on a spiritual journey for Lent, I want to suggest a delightful YouTube channel you might enjoy, particularly if you appreciate the works of C.S. Lewis.

I have no idea who’s behind the channel or what prompted this person to share essays and book excerpts from C.S. Lewis in doodle form, but I’m pleased as punch that he/she did.

The CSLewisDoodle Channel is a collection of 35 videos (so far) that literally draw out the words of the writer. Below is “The Necessity of Chivalry,” an essay published in August 1940 during the Battle of Britain, in doodle form.

My favorite doodle videos are of The Screwtape Letters. They are acted out – like a play – complete with drawings that feel like you’re watching a graphic novel come to life.

Perhaps these videos can be a companion to something you’re already doing, or maybe¬†you endeavor to watch one a day throughout the 40 days of Lent. For me, they make C.S. Lewis more accessible, as¬†the combination of words and pictures create a deeper level of understanding.

However you use them, enjoy.

Signs of Life Day Thirteen

When social media went downhill last year and finally tanked the day after the election, I took a break (like many others) and revised the way I used it. What was the point, after all? Why be online? Why stay connected?

There are a lot of reasons to unplug – the mindless scrolling, the agitation, the constant search for approval. If you are looking for reasons to be enraged, then you don’t have to look far.¬†Managing one’s time and energy online takes¬†constant vigilance,¬†and as the tension worsened during and after election season, I knew I needed to streamline and prioritize.

I decided Facebook is for general socialization and sharing with people I know in real life. These are childhood friends, extended family members, birth families, and people currently in my life. Twitter is reserved for¬†politics and literary agents. It’s all business and information.

Now, Instagram is all¬†joy – photos of those¬†I love, those¬†I admire, and some¬†of the cutest animals¬†on the internet. Today, I want to share with you a few of my favorites. I’m spreading the love.

Tuna is a chihuahua/dachshund rescue¬†with “an aggressive overbite” who’s won the hearts of nearly two million people. ¬†His expression is always perfect and he loves to snuggle. Tuna also travels the world to visit eager crowds who want to see the snaggletooth in person.

Goats of Anarchy is a special needs baby goat rescue group… I’m not sure I need to add anything else here.

Magnus is a three-year-old Mastiff/Bloodhound mix who has the sweetest (and largest) resting face I’ve ever seen. No matter the angle, no matter the proximity, whenever I’m scrolling through Instagram I always stop on his photo.

Going smaller now, we have Jill. She’s a pet squirrel. Why we ALL DON’T HAVE PET SQUIRRELS IS BEYOND ME.

Finally, meet Rhea. She has a skin disease¬†that makes her feathers fall off. People knit her little sweaters to wear. I can’t hardly take it. Now’s the time to follow her though. She’s currently sitting on four eggs.

Signs of Life is a blog series I’m writing¬†for February 2017. It was born out of desire to replace the negativity and despair that’s been bogging down our friendships, families, and communities after a tumultuous election season. This series won’t solve the world’s problems, but I hope it will¬†create a speck¬†of light and positivity when and where it is needed.¬†

Signs of Life Day Eight

Hello, beauties! Today I stumbled upon something inspiring and I want to share it with you.

I’d never heard of Verily¬†Magazine¬†before, so when I clicked a shared link from one of my favorite Twitter people (@onegroovynun, and yes, she’s really a nun!), I jumped around the site to see what Verily¬†was all about.

It looked exactly like¬†the sort of women’s¬†magazine I’d enjoy. Fashion stuff, beauty stuff, bits about health and lifestyle. All lovely things! I read a few pieces and enjoyed the few minutes I spent perusing.

However, it wasn’t the clean design or the quality writing or even the variety of topics that will bring me back to Verily. What sold me¬†was its position on using¬†Photoshop Free images of¬†the modern woman. They are actively changing the narrative.¬†

It seems that despite being more educated, influential, and affluent than ever before, the modern narrative about women ‚Äď what we should look like, how we should date, how to be successful, what should make us happy ‚Äď can ring hollow.

Crows feet, freckles, acne scars, cellulite, all of it. It’s there. These are real women. All beautiful, and all real.

That was all I needed to know.

I appreciate their position,¬†and yet I wish I could be as honest and accepting of myself as they are about the women they represent. Though I don’t excessively Photoshop myself in photos, I’ve been known to delete a blemish or soften a harsh line.

But here, in this photo taken on the hike that started the whole Signs of Life effort, it is just me. Nothing more, nothing less.

Photoshop free.

Signs of Life is a blog series I’m writing¬†for February 2017. It was born out of desire to replace the negativity and despair that’s been bogging down our friendships, families, and communities after a tumultuous election season. This series won’t solve the world’s problems, but I hope it will¬†create a speck¬†of light and positivity when and where it is needed.¬†

There Was Once by Margaret Atwood

Political frustration depicted in fiction. There was never a truer conversation. Enjoy.

“There was once a poor girl, as beautiful as she was good, who lived with her wicked stepmother in a house in the forest.”

“Forest? Forest is pass√©, I mean, I’ve had it with all this wilderness stuff. It’s not a right image of our society, today. Let’s have some urban for a change.”

“There was once a poor girl, as beautiful as she was good, who lived with her wicked stepmother in a house in the suburbs.”

“That’s better. But I have to seriously query this word poor.

“But she was poor!”

“Poor is relative. She lived in a house, didn’t she?”

“Yes.”

“Then socio-economically speaking, she was not poor.”

“But none of the money was hers! The whole point of the story is that the wicked stepmother makes her wear old clothes and sleep in the fireplace-”

“Aha! They had a fireplace! With poor, let me tell you, there’s no fireplace. Come down to the park, come to the subway stations after dark, come down to where they sleep in cardboard boxes, and I’ll show you poor!

“There was once a middle-class girl, as beautiful as she was good-”

“Stop right there. I think we can cut the beautiful, don’t you? Women these days have to deal with too many intimidating physical role models as it is, what with those bimbos in the ads. Can’t you make her, well, more average?”

“There was once a girl who was a little overweight and whose front teeth stuck out, who-”

“I don’t think it’s nice to make fun of people’s appearances. Plus, you’re encouraging anorexia.”

“I wasn’t making fun! I was just describing-”

“Skip the description. Description oppresses. But you can say what colour she was.”

“What colour?”

“You know. Black, white, red, brown, yellow. Those are the choices. And I’m telling you right now, I’ve had enough of white. Dominant culture this, dominant culture that-”

“I don’t know what colour.”

“Well, it would probably be your colour, wouldn’t it?”

“But this isn’t about me! It’s about this girl-”

“Everything is about you.”

“Sounds to me like you don’t want to hear this story at all.”

“Oh well, go on. You could make her ethnic. That might help.”

“There was once a girl of indeterminate descent, as average-looking as she was good, who lived with her wicked-”

“Another thing. Good and wicked. Don’t you think you should transcend those puritanical judgmental moralistic epithets? I mean, so much of that is conditioning, isn’t it?”

“There was once a girl, as average-looking as she was well-adjusted, who lived with her stepmother, who was not a very open and loving person because she herself had been abused in childhood.”

“Better. But I am so tired of negative female images! And stepmothers-they always get it in the neck! Change it to stepfather, why don’t you? That would make more sense anyway, considering the bad behaviour you’re about to describe. And throw in some whips and chains. We all know what those twisted, repressed, middle-aged men are like-”

Hey, just a minute! I’m a middle-aged-

“Stuff it, Mister Nosy Parker. Nobody asked you to stick in your oar, or whatever you want to call that thing. This is between the two of us. Go on.”

“There was once a girl-”

“How old was she?”

“I don’t know. She was young.”

“This ends with a marriage, right?”

“Well, not to blow the plot, but-yes.”

“Then you can scratch the condescending paternalistic terminology. It’s woman, pal. Woman.”

“There was once-”

“What’s this was, once? Enough of the dead past. Tell me about now.”

“There-”

“So?”

“So, what?”

“So, why not here?

Pinterest for Anniversary No. 14

I could post old photos of us from the last 18 years of being together, 14 of which have been as a married couple, but I’ve done that a dozen times. Here’s last year¬†from Vegas, here’s the year before that when we were camping. Here’s a photo that was taken about five months after we started dating in 1996.

Instead, I’ll share with you a few of my favorite things I’ve pinned to my husband-specific board on Pinterest. It’s a dumping ground for building furniture, Mad Men references, and homages to beards and tattoos. Occasionally, I post something sweet to remind myself (and him) that this journey we’re on is the best. Continue reading “Pinterest for Anniversary No. 14”

Phteven, your Friday Funny

I just finished reading a crime novel for my genre class, so I decided to flip through Pinterest to get my mind off dismemberment and butchery. I have no idea where it originated, but this is a reoccurring image that gets me every. single. time. Out loud belly laugh.

Phteven. OMG.

PhtevenJack and I are currently editing his second movie, so I hope to bring that to you on Monday. Did you catch is first film? No? Okay, here you go.

Happy Friday, peeps. You too, Phteven.

My very own portrait

Y’all, this is awesome.

A couple of months ago I entertained the idea of getting my portrait painted by an old friend/artist in Chattanooga. He was gathering subjects for an upcoming collection and I thought it would be¬†a great¬†privilege¬†to be a part of it.¬†Rarely do I¬†have my photo taken since I’m usually on the other end of the camera, not to mention I’m typically not happy with the results. Ultra critical = really annoying. But a painting? That’s different.

I agreed to do the portrait¬†for a couple of reasons. First, it’s totally cool. You know it is. Have you ever been painted? I haven’t. I had no plans to be. I’ve never even considered it. But there was the¬†opportunity in my lap and I would’ve been a fool to pass it up.

Secondly, as a rule, creative people should always support other creative people. I don’t paint, but I know what it’s like to create something from scratch¬†and hope against hope that someone finds value in it. I know what it’s like to pour my soul into something abstract, something uniquely my own, and wonder if it would ever be noticed. I don’t have to be a painter to¬†understand Caleb’s passion. I get it, and therefore I¬†support it.

So, we settled on a day and time for me to sit in his studio for a few hours. I wasn’t sure what the end result would be, but I knew I’d love it.

This was the portrait after about 45 minutes:

Early portrait

And this was the portrait after about two and a half hours:

A few hours portrait

Halfway doneThe lighting was not favorable for the entire sitting, so Caleb snapped my photo to paint from later, which gave us an opportunity to look through his previous work and talk about his journey from school to work to full-time artist.

Paints

It’s been several weeks since that sitting, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to see the final work. On Friday I drove to Chattanooga for the opening and grabbed Amy and Karin as dates. I tried to be all casual¬†upon walking into the exhibit, like I’ve done this sort of thing before, but I really wanted to shove my way through the crowd and find the painting. I stayed cool on the outside while imploding on the inside.

There I am, bottom row, second from the left.

Faces

Finished portrait

It’s perfect. No, really. It’s just so lovely. It’s light years better than any photograph I’ve ever taken, Photoshopped and not. After it’s been on display for a month, I’m taking this gorgeous thing home.

With my portrait

See? Dorky photo, gorgeous painting. LOVE.

Dinner with Karin and Amy

Then we celebrated.

Thank you, Caleb. Thank you, thank you. You are brilliant.

 

The Ultimate Goal: To be at peace

Here’s a nugget of goodness to chew on this weekend.

You can’t be connected with God until you’re at peace with who you are. If you’re still upset that God have you this body or this life or this family or these circumstances, you will never be able to connect with God in a healthy, thriving, sustainable sort of way. You’ll be at odds with your maker. And if you can’t come to terms with who you are and the life you’ve been given, you’ll never be able to accept others and how they were made and the lives they’ve been given. And until you’re at peace with God and those around you, you will continue to struggle with your role on the planet, your part to play in the ongoing creation of the universe. You will continue to struggle and resist ¬†and fail to connect.

This paragraph¬†leapt off the page and smacked me in the face yesterday. I’m about half way through Rob Bell’s Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality, so if I encounter any more earth-shattering bits, I’ll post them for you.

let go or be dragged

Meeting Liz Gilbert

I know I said my presence online would be minimum this month, but y’all, let me tell you. This blog post is worth it.

It was Girls Weekend, so Lesli, Susan, and I were doing our usual thing. We eat, we talk, we have coffee, we talk some more. Sometime around 2 a.m. we realize that we’re not 25 years old anymore and our bodies cannot handle such late hours. The whole thing begins again for one more day and then we don’t see each other for several months.

On the rare occasion, we’ll go to an event, a museum, or a movie, and Saturday night was one of those times. Elizabeth Gilbert was coming to Knoxville to read an excerpt from her new book, The Signature of All Things, and discuss writing/creativity/life with the audience. (She is best known for the wildly popular and inspiring memoir Eat, Pray, Love.) The three of us were giddy with excitement to hear whatever batch of wisdom Liz would have for us. All attendees received a signed copy of SOAT, and I took notes on the inside cover page of mine.

An Evening with Elizabeth Gilber

She was as ever bit as brilliant as I knew she’d be. Clever, witty, eager to share with the audience what she had learned over the years of being an aspiring writer. Write every day, so that when you don’t write for a couple of days you know that something is missing.¬†

camera_20131102192219163

The evening concluded too soon and I held back tears as she graciously thanked Knoxville for the warm reception. (Liz isn’t unfamiliar with Knoxville. She taught creative writing for one semester at the University of Tennessee in 2005, immediately after her year-long sojourn that eventually became Eat, Pray, Love.) ¬†Audience members were invited to have their books personalized in the lobby, and I swear every single person did just that. The line was painfully long but we stood in it anyway. My moment with Liz Gilbert was less than 10 seconds; I didn’t even speak to her. Both Susan and Lesli ¬†had more courage and swapped polite conversation, but I said nothing. If I had opened my mouth, I would’ve said too much and started crying. I might have even crawled in her lap. (In hindsight, she probably would’ve listened to my drivel patiently because she is too kind to do anything else.)

camera_20131102210432927As a whole, the night was perfect.

But it wasn’t over.

The girls and I walked to¬† Coffee & Chocolate¬†for a treat.¬†Conversation floated from our favorite bits of Liz’s talk to other unrelated things. We had been there nearly an hour when I casually glanced at the small group of ladies standing at the register. There was Liz, ordering a steamed milk and talking with three women who were obviously as inspired as we had been. That’s her, I mouthed to Susan and Lesli. That’s Elizabeth Gilbert!

My eyes bulged. I said all sorts of profanity and Susan stripped off her cardigan. (Because clearly that’s what you do when you find Liz Gilbert standing five feet away from you ordering a steamed milk. You strip and cuss.)

I said more profanity and pulled out my phone. Despite the cardiac arrest I was clearly experiencing, I was going to be bold and ask her for a picture. Susan, minus her cardigan, grabbed her phone too and stood next to me and waited for just the right moment to interject. (Lesli, at nearly 32 weeks pregnant, stayed calm.)

From the depth of my gut, I squeaked out, “Um, excuse me? Can we have a picture with you?”

Liz turned a kind, smiling face our way and said, “Absolutely! Come on!”

camera_20131102215355185Y’all, seriously. SERIOUSLY. I might be smiling all calm and cool in this photo, but I was on the verge of vomiting all over the floor from nerves. What a crazy, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime moment this was for me, for us, for three women who dearly love reading, love writing, love learning from other smart, strong women who have important things to say. Again, I barely spoke to her because I would’ve lost all self-restraint. Instead, I said, “Tonight was wonderful. Thank you very much.”

My cup runneth over.

This morning, as I add to the novel I started four days ago, I’m meditating on these words from Saturday night: Your story chose you and needs to be told through you.¬†Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert was exactly the gift I needed in this year, in this month, in this season of molding my words into fiction. None of this was by chance, for I am too smart to consider it as such. ¬†All of Saturday night was on purpose.

‚ÄúDestiny, I feel, is also a relationship – a play between divine grace and willful self-effort.‚ÄĚ – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

The Regional Assembly of Text

This is the last time I’ll mention our anniversary trip. I promise.¬†

I decided to make a singular post about the Regional Assembly of Text because this topic is definitely not interesting to everyone and I wanted to give folks the option to pass. If you have no interest in typography, design, illustration, books, typewriters, letterpress, creativity, or anything else cool like that, then you are free to move on. (See you tomorrow!)

But, if I’m speaking your love language, then KEEP READING.

There is a little shop on Main Street in Vancouver called the Regional Assembly of Text. It specializes in stationary, gifts, journals, typewriters and typewriter supplies, and everything else related to text. The owners, Brandy and Rebecca, design many of their own products, and if they sell someone else’s product, they make darn sure it’s unique and clever.

SignageA very special couple assembly logo Button maker My feelings for you TypewritersLowercase Reading Room Wonder Woman Handmade cardsI spent 45 minutes in the tiny shop looking over every single detail. Every book, card, stamp, and button was interesting to me. My sweet husband waited patiently because I could not be rushed. The young woman minding the front desk was super helpful and fun to chat with, particularly since she had a beautiful Irish accent. (I asked her permission to take these photos.)

If this store could float in Knoxville, I’d totally open one. Y’all know that’s a big statement because running a business involves math. Major props to the Lonely Planet guide for directing us towards this amazing store.

Inspire me.

We all know how addictive Pinterest can be. Good gracious, I could waste a day clicking links, searching, reading, re-pinning. I force myself to take substantial breaks from Pinterest, even entire weeks away, just so I can come up with my own ideas instead of piggy-backing off of others.

However, there is some really good advice out there and I thought I’d share a few favorites pins today. I’m particularly pensive this week, partly because we’re quarantined on account of Jeremy’s flu and partly because the books I’m reading for Lent are rocking my socks off.

Heavy

Things I take for granted

Guess who moved

Don't look back

ImproveI would be remiss if I didn’t signify today with a dual “Happy Birthday” to both my nephew and sister-in-law. Cheers and love to you!

The Christmas Season begins

We’re hitting all the angles this Christmas, from religious to silly, and we’re taking them all very seriously. We read scripture every morning in celebration of Advent, but only after the boys have searched the house for Timmy.

Timmy's spots

We also have an Advent house with 25 little doors, and inside each tiny compartment I slip a small piece of paper. Some mornings bring a piece of candy or a coupon for one-on-one time with Mom or Dad. Sometimes it’s just a reminder of how much they are loved, and other times it’s a special gift. For example, on the first day of Advent I gave the boys each a new Webkinz, which rocked their little socks off. To ensure the secrecy, I had to make SURE they wouldn’t open the December 1st door without us there.

Advent houseThough all of our interior and exterior decorations are up, we are still without a Christmas tree. Years ago we started the tradition of cutting down our own tree, which was suspended while we lived in Amarillo since there aren’t any tree farms in the area. Last year we found a local farm with good trees, but it didn’t measure up to the wonderful farm we used to visit while living in North Georgia. Rumor has it we might just take a little road trip.

In keeping (mostly) with the¬†Four Gift Rule, my Christmas shopping is complete. I wrapped everything last week and ALL of the gifts fit in ONE Rubbermaid container. That has never happened before now and it actually makes me feel good that we’ve not overdone it.

Mike Isabella’s Graffiato

When you care about food as deeply as we do, deciding what restaurant to patron is a well thought out plan on Girls Weekend. It’s even more important when you visit a city (like Washington DC) that is saturated with celebrity restaurants. In this case, we chose a Top Chef celebrity restaurant: Graffiato by Top Chef All-Stars runner-up Mike Isabella.

In a word, OMG.¬†I’m just going to dump all of the photos on the page and let you drool. There are roasted pistachios, skirt steak with potatoes, corn-stuffed ravioli, pizza with proscuitto and the most perfect double chocolate gelato there ever was ever in the whole wide world.

And then there are three very happy friends who waited all night long to see Mike Isabella waltz out of the kitchen to greet us, but he never showed up. Oh well!

Take Me There

This video is old news for all the Chattanooga people, but not for the rest of you. WOW. It’s so well done! There is something to be said for quality.

At first, I couldn’t tell if this was footage of real people, because honestly it reminded me of the Madurodam in Holland (a miniatures park). But no, this is real.

I don’t particularly want to live in Chattanooga again, but it’s very nostalgic. It’s where Chuck and I became an Us and where we started a family. We have precious friends and family there, and every time we go back to visit, I replay scenes in my head from high school and college and get all warm and fuzzy.

Enjoy and Happy Weekend!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp7t7-kuGXs]

A Writer’s Quill

A few weeks ago I attended an auction to raise money for Autism and the prizes were all monetary gifts on tattoo work. Happily, I won a $200 certificate to a local place that came highly recommended.

I’ve had the idea for a quill tattoo for some time but never made efforts to put it in ink. Now I couldn’t find a reason not to do it. After consulting with the artist, we agreed to also lengthen the wings of the butterfly tattoo I got my freshman year in college. After all, I’ve grown since then, right?

Here is the writer’s quill, positioned on my right forearm:

And the butterfly who’s grown longer wings:

This brings the tattoo total to five, and I’m just doing my best to hold back. (So many ideas, all this blank canvas!) Anyway, the remaining amount of the gift certificate is going to Chuck, who’ll get some work on his sleeve.

I’d drink tea for this.

I don’t drink tea, hot or cold, which I fully understand is wrong and offensive since I was born and raised in the South. But I’d totally choke down some afternoon tea if I could have these tea towels for tea time.

Happy Royal Wedding Day, fellow lovers of the British Monarchy! I’m totally hooked. ¬†(Need a wedding program? Go here.) I woke up just in time to watch Miss Middleton walk down the aisle to marry her prince. She looked so lovely and he so handsome. Would’ve been an amazing time to be in London.

DIY Toys – Thanks, Joel!

Made by Joel is a fabulous online resource for easy, do-it-yourself toys that require minimal supplies and a ton of imagination on the part of your child. Most of you know I’m very anti-noisy/anti-flashy/anti-batteries-included when it comes to children’s toys. If I’m giving your child a gift, more than likely he’ll receive books or a toy that requires more brains than batteries.

Anyway, I totally want to make this:

(Click on the photo for the How-To)

I’m stockpiling ideas for the summer when gas prices skyrocket and our daily trips to the mountains will have to be limited to only a few times per week.

(Joel has a book coming out, too!)