Thursday, July 30, 2009

sunday afternoons

I don't know what your Sundays are like, but I tend to get some alone time on Sundays. You see, Sunday is a workday for my husband, as he is the Media Director for our church. That means he's at church for both morning services, and the evening one. I usually get lunch and an hour or two with him in the afternoon, but I tend to use the extra time for me.

What do I like to do? I like to grocery shop, see friends or hang out by myself and catch up on alone time. Yes, I love to grocery shop. I love to cook and the two go hand in hand. And I like shopping by myself usually. Once in awhile it's fun to have the husband along, but most of the time, I like going alone. The aisles are a world of possibilities staring me in the face, ingredients asking me to take them home. I know, I'm a freak.

This past Sunday, I had lunch at my mom's house with two friends from college. Beth (on the left) was in from Miami and Kristen (on the right) lives in town. Beth hasn't been back to see us in awhile and so we filled our bellies with mom's famous turkey meatloaf, potatoes and cranberry sauce and caught up. Beth is a chaplain at the University of Miami and Kristen is thinking of buying a condo. Lots to talk about.

Girls afternoons are so not stressful and so full of memories. We sipped Cheerwine (a local Carolina cherry soda) and caught up before I had to take Beth to the airport. It was a fun afternoon, and when I went home, I still managed some time on my own before my husband came home.

What do you do with Sundays?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Meet Sammy. He's my buddy. He's who I curl up with at night because he fits nicely in the crook of my arm. He has beanies in his butt and a kissable nose.

He's who I cuddle up with when I'm sad. Charlie gives me hugs and kisses, but when I'm still crying and in need of comfort twenty minutes later, he hands me Sammy.

Sammy was a gift from Emily. She knew I needed a friend (this was back when I was still single) and she was leaving for the summer, so she brought me Sammy.

Emily was blogging about how we hold on to things, and Sammy, like any stuffed animal, is something I should have let go of long ago. But somehow all my tears feel better when Sammy is there. When we lost the adoption, Sammy was my buddy, my friend, my secret confidant.

All day long I am a big girl, wearing my big girl pants, running my life and getting things done. I'm an adult, I work, I feed myself and pay my bills. But when I'm sad, Sammy is always there, quietly listening.

It may be silly or sad or pathetic, but Sammy won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

Any other animal lovers out there?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

not on automatic II

This week we were to try our Macro setting and our automatic timer. I have to admit, I have always loved the Macro setting, because I love to take photos of flowers, and I did in this case. These roses are from the dozen that my husband bought me for our anniversary. (Remember, I am taking my photos with a Nikon D80.)

Here is my automatic timer photo. My friend Beth and I wandered around our old college campus and had a great time. We found a little brick wall that I could set my camera on and used the automatic timer. You can frame photos with the timer by having someone stand in the field of vision where you want them. In this case, I had Beth sit so I could focus the camera and then I ran in and joined her. I think it turned out well.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

how things are

It's summertime and I spend most of that time recharging for the school year. But this summer was supposed to be different. This summer was supposed to be my first season as a mother, but that turned out not to be the case. And I think I am still mourning from that loss, but ignoring it at the same time, trying to move past it.

Over the past few days I have talked with several friends about how I am good at drawing lines in my life. You know, the lines you won't cross. The deal breakers. The non-negotiable things. I draw those lines because I am selfish about my emotions, my time, my body.

Specifically, we were talking about relationships, and how I drew lines and made choices to protect myself. For example, I didn't have sex until I got married, and that was a line I drew, mostly because that was part of my faith, but also because I felt my emotions and body were precious. Intimacy is just that: intimate. Why share those things with someone I haven't connected with on every other level? When dating, I was up front about my beliefs early on and the few men I dated knew my boundaries. If they weren't okay with my lines, they were shown the door before I even was too far invested. Emotionally. But the lines don't just exist in romantic relationships, they exist in my friendships as well. And I've always thought I was happy in my little box, and I drew a box around my sadness and pushed it aside.

I wonder, though, if my lines, my boxes, my deal breakers kept me from experiencing life more fully. Would I have learned more about the world and about myself if I'd pushed past the lines? Of would I have just gotten myself hurt? If I'd been more flexible, what would that have looked like? Would I have been more popular, more respected, more something? And is more necessarily better? I don't know the answers to these questions.

All I know is that I don't want to be rigid. Even keeled? Yes. But rely so much on my little box that I can't allow for new experiences? No. Maybe there's a place for growth here. Maybe there's a chance for me to redraw my lines, and allow for more freedom and joy. Maybe I don't have to hold back with people when they don't measure up to my expectations.

Maybe this is a ramble and you won't relate to any of it. Maybe my lines and boundaries are my thing and not no one else does this. But if you do relate...comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

getting out the fancy dishes

Last week my husband and I celebrated our fifth anniversary, and I wanted to have a special dinner. We'd already really celebrated our anniversary in New York, and so our actual day was going to be low key. We ended up deciding to have a couple of friends over and grill steaks.

I got out the fancy dishes.

I got out the china and the crystal that we haven't used more than 10 times in five years. The china is a lovely gray and silver pattern and I love, love, love the glasses.

I love my fancy dishes and am mostly the sort of girl that would like to use them everyday. A glass with a stem is one of my favorite things, and swirly silver vines on snowy white dishes just makes my food look better. You know, the Queen of the Indoors loves fancy things, pretty things, sparkly things and all things stuffed with down feathers.

The man, on the other hand, likes plastic cups, plates without designs, and a pyrex storage container as a cereal bowl. He likes t-shirts, blue paint and only has three pairs of shoes. I love him, so most of the time we drink out of plastic cups and eat off of plain plates.

But, on this day, I used the fancy plates. And, I swear, the steak tasted better.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

unwrapping old friends

Today I am welcoming an old friend into my house and am writing about it as part of Tuesday's Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky. A friend from college. The one friend who taught me what it is to stick by someone, even when you don't know what to say. The friend who was my Maid of Honor when I stood up in a white dress and told my man he would be my man forever.

The friend who hasn't lived here since I got a digital camera, so I have no pictures to show you. I will edit this post later, once I have one of Beth.

Our plans include: hitting Cookout, the Juice Shop, Friendly Center and watching copious amounts of Gilmore Girls DVDs.

Make new friends, but keep the old, right?

also: I don't know what the photobucket problem is...any ideas as to what might be wrong?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

not on automatic

I forced my friend Bethany to let me take pictures of her the other day, without makeup and with no real primping. She was less than thrilled, but let me do it, and several of them turned out very well. She's such a pretty girl and don't you just love those curls?

So, Chickadee, from A Familiar Path is doing a photo series teaching us how to use the different settings on our cameras. This week's challenge was to take photos on any other setting but automatic, so I chose the portrait setting. (We're supposed to say what kind of camera we have: a Nikon D80.) I like the way Bethany is in focus, but the plants behind her are not. If I had used Auto, I think everything would be in focus, but I didn't take shots to test that theory. This was also taken on an overcast day, because it was actually about 12:30 and the sun would have been really drastic at that time of day.

This is my momma. Isn't she beautiful? I mean, come on, that woman is gorgeous! I also used the portrait setting with mom, and I took this picture in her garage, of all places. But it was really sunny overhead and by being in the shade it offered this great light. Love it.

Hope you enjoy these! I am learning how to use my new camera and am loving it. I wondered how I would feel about lugging it around NYC, because it was heavier than your average point and shoot camera. I carried a similar camera around in London and hardly ever hung it around my neck due to the weight, but my solution for NYC was to have Charlie carry the camera and camera bag, and for me to ask for it when I wanted. I carried my purse, with a water bottle. Did you want to know all that? Probably not. But all that to say that I love my new camera and I did carry it a lot, and didn't mind the weight. It just takes such great pictures.

I'm in love with a boy named Nikon. I say Nikon is a boy, because it is. What say you?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

10 things I love

1. I love when modern teen movies are based on Shakespeare. If you haven't seen 10 things I hate about you or She's the Man, then you need to. The former is based on the play Taming of the Shrew, and the latter on Twelfth Night.

2. I love sarcasm and movies with quick dialogue with pop culture references.

3. Music with mood appropriate soundtracks. Both of these movies have awesome soundtracks.

4. Heath Ledger. Gone too soon. This was still one of my favorite performances from him. He was scary and almost unidentifiable in Batman, and charming in Cassanova, but this movie really speaks to me. I love the character he plays, and when he sings on the football field, it's movie magic.

5. "Who needs affection when I have blind hatred?" Cause the dialogue is so well written. I know it's based on Shakespeare, and many of the lines are direct modernizations of the original, but the delivery is impressive as well.

6. Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum are one charming pair. Let's face it, Channing Tatum is hot (and recently married) and he spends half of this movie with his shirt off. The scene in this movie where Viola as Sebastian fends off women in the diner is one of my favorites.

7. Gag reels. All movies should have gag reels included on the Special Features. It just says something about the fact that actors are real people.

8. I like teen movies that have some sort of message, and these two certainly do. If you don't believe me, then watch them. They are definitely teen movies, but I like what they have to say about relationships. Be who you are. Make your own choices. Solve your own problems. If you have teenagers, it might scare you to see what's really out there going on with kids, but then again, you might need to see it.

9. Wherever they filmed 10 things was gorgeous. I know it is Seattle, but the building they use for the school is amazing. I wish my high school looked like that.

10. Movies. I love movies and have watched many this week, while getting stuff done. I think I've mentioned that we don't have the good cable (a problem that will be remedied soon) and I like to have voices in the background. I pop in a DVD and it's like instant company. And I get all sappy about a good love story.

Friday, July 17, 2009

central park and pirates

This is the place in Central Park where they filmed the dancing scene in Enchanted. There are miles and miles of paths in the park, and it took us a while of wandering around to find this fountain. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and people were out in abundance, many rowing on the pond in little rowboats.

Do you see the guy in the black hat that is sitting on the edge of the fountain? He is a man dressed like Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean. Just hanging out. While we watched, a girl went up and got her picture taken with him. It was one of the more odd things we saw while we were in New York.

Cause that's what I would think to do with my time...dress up like a character from the movie and hang out at the park by a fountain. Man, I'm cool.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

fun architectural shots

The buildings in New York are amazing, and the blend of old and new is pretty seamless, I think. I love the way these next shots turned out. I don't know much about the buildings, but I like the photography.

I love the way half of the building has disappeared in the picture below. The reflective nature of the glass at that time of day was just breathtaking.

I just liked the shapes of this building, and if you watch the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, most of the movie takes place here. Of course, I don't know if they filmed the movie here, but they use the exterior.

Another view from the Top of the Rock. It's amazing to me that there are so many buildings crammed into such a small amount of land.

Can you tell that we had a great time? SO great. There is an energy there that is just palpable and we are already planning to go back. Don't know when, but there is so much to see. We didn't go to any museums or historical sites, and we could have used another three weeks to see it all. I would love to actually stay in Midtown, at the Plaza and be in the middle of all of it, but our budget doesn't really allow for that. It may never allow for that, but a girl can dream, right?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

tired of NYC yet?

We took the Pioneer Woman's advice and went to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck to see the city. I think it was a great idea, because that way you get to see the Empire State Building and get good pictures of it. I had so much fun in this city, and can see why so many people cram themselves together to live there. I loved this view of Central Park. It is quite impressive that with how expensive the real estate is here, that they have managed to maintain this green space.

Here we are on Top. My strategy for getting other people to take pictures of us: find someone who has just as expensive a camera as you do and ask them. We saw so many people with Nikon straps, so I gravitated toward those people. I figure they would have an idea about how to use the camera, and we got some great pics that way. My thoughts were that if they had an expensive camera, they would be less likely to steal mine. I wasn't really worried in touristy places, but when were a little more off the beaten track, it made me feel better.

Ten points to anyone who can explain to me what this shirt means:

Times Square was fun. We saw the Naked Cowboy guy...who I'd never seen before, but he's some buff guy who plays his guitar while wearing cowboy boots and a tighty whitey. There were some older women taking photos of him, so he stopped playing, posed and said, "take your time, ladies." Oh my. I did not take pictures of him.

I will say the streets are cheerful, with all the yellow taxis. It just brightens everything up, and I never really thought about it before. Normal roads look so boring now, with all our navy blue, black, gray, and burgundy cars. So depressing. I loved the yellow taxis. And they all looked so new, and we even saw SUV taxis, van taxis, and the elegant black town cars that drive the more important people.

I still have more to say about NYC, but can you stand more?

I'm so fancy, yes, I am

One of the places I planned to go while we were in New York was Mood Fabrics. Now, if you don't care about fabric, then this post isn't for you. But if you like fabric, or you love Project Runway, then keep reading.

I love Project Runway, and I am in mourning since we turned off our cable. If you don't know that show, let me break it down for you. Sixteen designers are brought in and given challenges and assigned a model. For example, make an gown for this year's Miss America contestant (who usually ends up being a guest judge.) They give the designers a time limit and a budget, and send them out to a fabric store: Mood. The sew whatever they design and then put it on their model to walk the runway. It gets judged and then someone gets sent home.

I was excited to to go there. I mean, down here in NC we have some great fabric stores cause we're in the furniture capital, but this one has the celebrity quotient to it. I also found it neat because it's on two floors of a huge building, and you can't see it from the street. It took a minute to find.

They had the most special of fabrics, some of which I hadn't ever seen before and some really beautiful things. I spent most of my time in the home fabrics section, looking at fabric for some curtains for my new den windows. I wandered around, lost in thought, while Charlie went around and took some pictures.

See here how I am holding a cup? I was in a hurry to finish my smoothie because I was certain drinks wouldn't be allowed, but the cool people at Mood didn't care. I finished it at my leisure.

What I hold in this bag was quite the splurge, but I loved what I ended up with. And I can't show you yet, because I want to post about the big reveal when I actually get them sewed. And yes, I am going to sew them. I am copying something I saw in the Pottery Barn catalog years ago. And, brave me, I bought fabric without measuring the size of the windows. I know, the Nester would berate me for not having my color swatches and measurements in hand, but it's a mistreatment, so I'll pull it together by the seat of my pants.

It was a happy little diversion. I mean, there weren't any celebrities there, just miles and miles of fabric. No, I didn't get to meet Heidi Klum or Tim Gunn, but it was just a pop culture thing to do. That's what we discovered about ourselves: we like pop culture. Wait til I post about the NBC store...sheesh. That was fun.

The owner did have a little bulldog that was wandering around, and his name was Swatch, which was cute. He gave me a little kiss, which was sweet since I missed my puppies by then. I asked if they sold t-shirts, and they do not. They need to get on that.

Okay, end of boring fabric store story. Aufedersein.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

more to tell about NYC

This was the view from our hotel room as the fireworks went off over the Hudson river. We had the best view, and we pulled our chairs up to the window and listened to the music from the TV as the fireworks went off. It was cool to see such a display and not be in the middle of the crushing crowd down by the water. We talked to another couple the next day who went down to the water, and it took them three hours to get back the one mile to the hotel.

Sunday morning we had reservations for Tavern on the Green, which is in Central Park. We had made reservations for their Sunday Stimulus Buffet which sounded amazing, but even though I called and asked if I could make reservations online, and the woman said yes, the answer was no. Evidently you can't reserve the buffet online, you can only make a la carte reservations so we ended up in the dining room with the regular menu. Which Charlie wasn't too excited about. Even with the mistake, I still had a wonderful time there, sitting in the crystal room.

The ceiling looks like cake frosting and is just beautiful. I was so excited to be there and take in such a New York experience. We had our picture taken by the official photographer and I bought a copy in a special green leather holder thing.

After the brunch we wandered around Central Park and saw a couple of places that I remembered from many movies, including Enchanted. I felt like I should break into song or something, but I am not talented that way.

So one big exciting thing that happened was at the movies. We had bought tickets to see the Transformers movie in IMAX at a theatre on Broadway. We walked over there from Central Park and while Charlie went to the bathroom, I got in line to get drinks. These two women behind me are talking about how expensive it was to buy tickets to the movies, and if people had a family of four, it could really add up. I was eavesdropping, I admit, but the woman's voice sounded familiar, so I looked over my shoulder. And my jaw dropped. Behind me was Diane Keaton and Carol Kane (from the Princess Bride.)

I turned and stared. And said "seriously?" My new friend Diane told me it was okay. I laughed, because Charlie had the camera. In the bathroom.

I got my drinks and stepped aside. Diane and Carol got their snacks. I kept praying for Charlie to hurry up! I asked Diane what movie they were seeing (Public Enemy.)

Finally Charlie came out of the bathroom and I told him to get out the camera, QUICK. I asked if we could take a picture and Diane said sure. We posed. And smiled. And Charlie had the camera set on Landscape. Thus my picture looks like this.

Charlie told her we really loved "Mad Money," which we did. She laughed and said that she didn't hear that compliment very often and we told her we thought it was hilarious. If you haven't seen it, you should.

We went in and took our seats, and had about a half an hour to wait until the movie. Charlie texted everyone he knew about our run in with our new best friend Diane (Carol stepped out of the picture, I don't know why.) All day we kept grinning about meeting a famous person. Our New York experience was complete. Yankees game, check, Tavern on the Green, check, Central Park, check, famous person, check.

I will say that either I was the only person that recognized the famous people, or other New Yorkers are just really blase' about seeing celebrities. Maybe they are used to it, and maybe that's why Diane and Carol can go to the movies without people bugging them too much. Anyway, she was very gracious about it, and we were thrilled.

Yay, New York.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

happy anniversary, Charlie

We each picked a special thing that we wanted to do while we were in New York. Charlie chose to get tickets to a Yankees game and he was really excited about it, especially since this was the first year in the new stadium. The Yankees were playing the Toronto Blue Jays that day.

Our seats were in the top tier, but we had the front row so we had a great view. I am not the biggest baseball fan, but I knew it would be cool to actually be at a game, and I did have fun cheering for the Yankees.

The new stadium is really nice. I loved the way it was decorated, with the large banners of the players. On the reverse side was black and white pictures of famous former players. We arrived early so we could shop a little at the souvenir store and pick out a few things. Our anniversary is on July 10th and Charlie's birthday is on July 30th, so I wanted him to pick out something for his birthday gift. We saw several really cool jackets, but everything was soooo expensive. He ended up getting a hat and I got a t-shirt with sparkly silver writing. You know I love sparkles.

We stopped on one of the lower tiers and took pictures of the field from another angle. The view from behind home plate made me think that baseball might be more fun if we could afford more expensive tickets.

See how happy he looks? It was such a thrill for him to be there among all the fans and have an authentic baseball experience. When we rode the subway up to the stadium, there were so many people dressed in Yankee blue we didn't even need to worry about where to get off. When all the people in Yankee t-shirts got up, we got up too. So easy.

The game was at lunchtime and so we decided to get something to eat. That was a very pricey decision. We ordered one double cheeseburger, a small fry, a water and a Pepsi in a collectible cup and that equaled $28. We shared.

There were 46,000 people in attendance that day, so we decided to leave halfway through the ninth inning, in order to avoid the crowds. The game ended up going into extra innings, but the Yankees won 6 to 5.

All in all, a great day. I ended up a little sunburned on my shoulders, but a little sunburn was worth the experience. We rode the subway back and got off at Columbus Circle, wandered around a little bit and found a diner to eat dinner. We went back to the hotel after that and watched the fireworks from our hotel room. We turned the special on tv so we could hear the music from the fireworks, but we had a great view from our window, since we faced the Hudson river. My pictures weren't that great, but it was a once in a lifetime experience to watch NYC fireworks and actually be there.

Happy Anniversary, Charlie. Glad you had a good time!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

big apple, part deux

One of our stops on the first day was FAO Schwartz. Charlie loved the life-size Lego creations they have (this one is Chewbacca.) We asked the concierge about them and he said that the Lego company made them especially for the store. They also had a Batman and the Harry Potter kids, but I think this one looks the best. We watched people play on the piano from Big, and thought that was fun.

We took the Staten Island Ferry to, well, Staten Island, but we really only took the ferry to ride past the Statue of Liberty. It was cool to see the city skyline over the water. It also makes me think I should not wear this shirt anymore, after seeing pictures of myself in it. Could I look more pregnant? (I'm not, just to be sure.)

Times Square was fun and overwhelming and crowded with way too many tourists. One night we just needed to walk through to get back to our bus stop and I wanted to elbow about eight people who weren't watching where they were going, but were just looking up at all the lights. I bet real New Yorkers stay away from there unless absolutely necessary. The billboards are huge and eye catching, and my eye was drawn to these Target billboards. The funny thing about this is that NYC does not have any Targets. So sad for them.

This is the ABC news studio where they film Good Morning America, I think. I do love the way the bands of the screen bend around the building. I will say the architecture in NYC is amazing. So many different kinds of buildings, all mixed together so well. There are modern buildings and historical places and places you see in movies, and it blends nicely. I will say, I have been to London and it does not mix together as elegantly as NYC. Maybe it's because their modern architecture is just so, well, ugly. And their historical buildings are just so amazing, and so much older than anything we have in the states. Houses built late in the 20th century are square blocks of ungraceful brick. Yuck. (ok, enough on that.)

The next post will include our 4th of July and the Yankees game we attended. I promise.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

the big apple, part one

This vacation will be told in several parts, because something unique happened each day. I can totally say that I was excited about going to NYC, but I was nervous that it would be really, really, really touristy and we would spend our day in line after line after line to see things. I asked so many people before we left what we should see, and the list was long. There are historical sites (Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island), tourist areas (Empire State, Madame Toussaud's) and all sorts of entertainment (broadway shows, ballets, clubs, comedy, etc.)

The first day we did buy tickets on an open air double decker bus, and rode around on it. We got on and off whenever we wanted to, and we liked that. It let us see so many things that we wanted, but to see as we drove past. I only needed to see a snippet of Chinatown to know I didn't really want to spend much time there. We rode the Staten Island Ferry and saw the Statue of Liberty from afar, then got back on the bus and went up to Central Park.

Here we are sitting in front of the Plaza Hotel. We bought hot dogs from a street cart and ate in Central Park, then walked around and climbed on the big rocks (that's the above pic.) We found the Mac Store, which was cool, but crowded. Wow, crowded. New Yorkers love their Macs, I guess. The entrance to it was really cool, cause it reminded me of the entrance to the Louvre, which is a glass pyramid. Mac is cool and classy at the same time.

We also stopped at Engine 54, which was across the street from our tour bus stop. This fire house lost more men in 9/11 than any other house. We took a moment there, and talked with a captain, and he was so nice. I didn't really want to bring up 9/11, but I wanted to stand there for a moment and remember. We went past Ground Zero, and all it is now is a construction site. So much time has passed.

We bought a few souvenirs that day, then got on our bus and went back to our hotel in New Jersey. We were staying right across the Hudson in Secaucus in a little convention park, and we ate at Cheeseburger in Paradise that night. So yummy after all that walking.

And that was our Friday. More to come in part two: Saturday, July 4th.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mom is in the house

Charlie and I are loading up the car tonight and leaving first thing in the morning for NYC! I am very excited about all the movie stars I will meet while there (not.) I am taking the laptop, so I should be able to blog while I am there and will be reporting all things interesting, and some not so interesting.

Anyway, I wish you all a Happy 4th. I wish you burgers and chips and a great onion dip. I wish you lemonade and strawberries and a kiss under sparklers. I wish you no mosquitos, a sprinkler to run through and cool weather.

And while we're away, my mom is coming to stay with the grand dogs. Phoebe and Lucy love their Gramma and are looking forward to her visit. Today we showed Mom how to use the Mac and she loved it. She may not be able to get to her email, but she thought the computer was pretty!