09 December 2014

Paradise Gardens - Part 3...












Yep, Howard Finster is still a big part of our interests as of late at Casa Keene-Carrington.  Brady just completed a class presentation on our trip there and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone will host the documentary film Paradise Gardens again soon since I missed it last time when it showed in Atlanta...

Other than that we've been busy at work (duh, the usual) but it feels different since every dime is going toward our upcoming trip.  I do promise to try to catch up on my old emails and get in touch with you lovely folks about places to see in Europe.  We're still taking recommendations!  Germany, France (tentatively), Barcelona, Switzerland, Prague, Austria, Budapest, the UK, Iceland, Belgium and maybe Copenhagen if we have time.  *happy dance*

And I've been culling the house goods like mad since our move is now days away.  *gulp*  I haven't been too stressed about it though since we are moving literally mere yards from our current location...

Brady graduates next weekend and we've got a lot going on between now and then so this blog will probably be radio silent for a while yet again.  I do hope all y'all have a lovely day!

27 November 2014

Thankful For...



I've mentioned before, numerous times in fact, that I am not a rabid fan of most (ok, almost all) holidays that are celebrated here in the US.  I'm more of a 'seasons' celebratory gal.  It's my personal preference and I certainly don't mind if other folks fall into the experience of Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc, etc with their whole heart.  Really, I don't.  Well, maybe just a bit when I've just heard Dashing Through The Snow for the 15th time in 2 days and it's still November.  And killing turkeys isn't my thing.  But I love lights, snowflakes, pies and aprons so I'm definitely on board with some of the aspects that fit into the late year celebrations.  See, I'm not too much of a curmudgeon.  Now, get off my lawn you meddling kids!

The truth is that I do love what the integral parts of the holidays entail - kindness, generosity, goodwill towards others and being thankful for what you have right now.  That last part is something I'm trying to do right now in my life.  Daily.  Sometimes hourly.  Being thankful means being present and aware and knowing when to stop adding shit to your new house wishlist and just be grateful you have a house during this incredible cold snap.  That's my first unofficial 'thankful for' item - having a roof over my head (that isn't covered in 9 feet of snow)...

Other things I'm thankful for:
  1. Fluffy kitties and old chihuahuas.  The love they give.  Oh y'all.  The love.  I'm so glad I have them all...

  2. Friends/Family.  I'm lucky enough to have a supportive and loving group of people that tell me often how much they believe in me.  It's like my own Stuart Smalley segment but with them giving me thumbs up from behind the mirror...

  3. That Athens is my current town.  While we have definitely toyed with the idea of moving, and still are thinking of it a year or so from now (maybe), I'm really glad we moved here when we did.  We've changed our lifestyle drastically (no more visiting bars every night of the week or smoking or drinking constantly or searching for myself in all the wrong places) and have set some great goals during our life here.  I'm traveling more, photographing more stuff, reading more and have found a career that I adore.  Brady is finishing his last semester, thinking of graduate school and has found a (tentative) career path he'd like to try out.  It feels like we're new people 'round here.  We know some great people and we have been lucky in so many ways since we've become Athenians

  4.  Comfy shoes.  I'm almost 40.  Two months and counting!  I need them and I'm so glad that I have them.  My feet/back/mind are super happy.  It's the little things, eh?

  5.  My health.  It hasn't been great thanks in part to genetics and part to some stupid lifestyle choices but I'm still thankful for what I have.  And hopefully the better decisions I'm making in regards to food and booze will help in the future.

  6.  My job/career.  It's a double mention from #3 but it bears repeating.  10 years of higher education, 1 master's, 1 almost (1 semester lacking) 2nd master's + a move to Athens = finding what I love in the form of baked goods.  Seriously, I love what I do and I hope to always have my hands in flour or sugar.

  7.  My ability to travel.  My job, my personal desire to explore, my partner's willingness to join me and a doggy/kitty sitter (hi Mom!) who's willing to watch our critters for days, weeks and even months at a time = us traveling locally, nationally and soon-to-be internationally.  It's my passion (besides photography and reading) and I'm so grateful that I can indulge in it.
What are you thankful for today and everyday?

19 November 2014

My Life In Pictures...



Well, I just dropped a couple of posts on y'all and then ducked out, didn't I?  A big THANK YOU to all of you emailing and commenting on my impending trip.  I promise that I'm going to respond ASAP but right now I'm working overtime in order to help out a few folks from work as well as getting in a bit of extra cash before our move/trip.  So.  Much.  Stuff.  About.  To.  Happen.  Whoa.

Other than that I've been making pies, wrangling doggies, packing, scoping thrift stores for a perfect coat for the trip, doing Neti pots like crazy to combat my sinus problems and dreaming of seeing Birdman.  The latter, fingers crossed, will happen tonight!  I've also been avoiding a lot of social media because folks are already going crazy posting Christmas/Xmas stuff.  I'm one of those people who doesn't really find any of these holidays appealing (blasphemy?!?) but I'm not a Scrooge (too much) about them either.  But I just don't understand putting up decorations months and/or weeks in advance.  I'm going to have to become a hermit here shortly in order to avoid the holiday madness, eh?

Anyhoo, happy Wednesday to y'all!

13 November 2014

Remembering Goals...



It's almost here.  Yep.  The BIG 4-0 that everyone talks about like it's end days.  For me, it's another decade that I hope to complete.  That I hope is the best yet because, I'll be honest here, I feel like I'm just finding my groove in life.  My face and butt might sag a bit but my spirits are high.  Y'all, that's the best I could hope for!

Ok, I thought I'd give an update, probably the last before my birthday, of my 100 Before 40 goal list.  Which, might I add, has some things on it that a) will not be met ever b) will not be met until I'm 40 or older c) are no longer interesting or d) are downright silly.  Heh.  I plan to share a few more specifics if I remember to document some of these properly...
  1.  See the Northern Lights (ongoing)
  2. Write a book
  3. Experience a class III rapids adventure 
  4. Play under a waterfall
  5. Learn Spanish (ongoing)
  6. Walk on hot coals…like in the movies!
  7. Learn how to play the saw (ongoing)
  8. Put my hand/name in wet concrete
  9. Do a zipline
  10. Meet Tom Waits
  11. Ride a mattress down a flight of stairs
  12. Shave a part of my head
  13. Foster baby possums
  14. Stay at the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island
  15. Meet the Dali Lama (I went to see him speak so I'm going to count this)
  16. Visit all the US National Parks (ongoing)
  17. Quit smoking
  18. Go vegan for at least 6 months
  19. Go internet free for at least 6 months
  20. Make a simple dress
  21. Kayak to Billy’s Island
  22. Learn how to make a daisy chain
  23. Run a 5k
  24. Re-read all Tom Robbins books
  25. Learn how to identify at least 15 birds
  26. Make a decorative pillow
  27. Kayak down the Broad River
  28. Relearn cloud classifications/names
  29. Paint a painting
  30. Submit a photo to a contest
  31. Not bring home a single plastic bag for at least 6 months (ongoing)
  32. Lose 15lbs…the healthy way!
  33. Eat at least 30 cheeses that I’ve never had before nixing this one
  34. Make dandelion wine
  35. Host a couchsurfer every month for 6 months
  36. Learn how to make/roll sushi
  37. Grow out my bangs
  38. Go without turning on electricity/gas/power for a day
  39. Build a blanket fort
  40. Make fresh pasta
  41. Help create 10 random acts of kindness
  42. Roll down a grassy hill
  43. Do one craft a week (ongoing...kind of)
  44. Go to a proper high tea
  45. …and learn how to make an edible scone…*sigh*...and maybe Devonshire cream?
  46. Make a stencil for house goods
  47. Learn how to make a good Bloody Mary mix
  48. Take a ride in a hot air balloon
  49. Learn how to triple skip a stone
  50. Hike part of the Appalachian Trail
  51. Write/email/call a politician every month regarding animal rights issues
  52. Help create a GA blogger group and/or meetup
  53. Stand on the White Cliffs of Dover
  54. Make a short film – either fiction or documentary – and post online
  55. Sponsor a needy child
  56. Create the perfect Mac & Cheese recipe
  57. Try to recreate Amelie’s wardrobe
  58. Go to a Diane Arbus or Steiglitz exhibit
  59. Learn how to rock climb
  60. Draw a self-portrait
  61. Learn archery
  62. Read every banned book (ongoing)
  63. Learn how to ride the tandem with confidence
  64. Two words: paint fight!
  65. Sleep in a yurt
  66. Start saving for RV
  67. Learn how to cook breads and other goodies in/over a campfire
  68. Make palak paneer
  69. Visit a sweat lodge
  70. Travel to Finland/Ireland and finish the family tree for Grandma (future)
  71. Finish the damn list
  72. Learn how to smile properly in photos and stop scaring folks with my half scowl
  73. Learn to enjoy the art of silence
  74. Watch 1/8 of the Criterion Collection - that’s about 100 movies! (ongoing)
  75. Host a wine tasting at my home for all my friends
  76. No more chattering when I’m nervous - just keep mouth shut...
  77. Take a pottery class and make an awesome bowl
  78. Build a birdhouse
  79. Learn how to use a whip a la Indiana Jones
  80. Have a bonfire on the beach and then sleep under the stars - maybe via a long awaited return trip to Cumberland Island(future)
  81. Conquer my fear of heights
  82. Read 1 book a week (ongoing)
  83. Volunteer somewhere for an entire year (ongoing)
  84. Sign up and take free classes...learn something!
  85. Build a small greenhouse
  86. Learn to play pool (ongoing)
  87. Take a cooking class (ongoing)
  88. Build a snow fort
  89. Learn how to take care of a bonsai tree
  90. Do a polar bear swim
  91. Pay off my student loans (hahahaha! what was I thinking?)
  92. Learn how to make the perfect pie crust
  93. Research and buy only cruelty-free products
  94. Practice, memorize and complete an entire movement set for Tai Chi (ongoing)
  95. Learn 100 ASL signs
  96. Pose for a family portrait - me, Brady and all the critters
  97. Learn calligraphy
  98. Attend a TED Talk
  99. Become better organized (ongoing)
  100. Be featured in a newspaper
  101. Learn to trapeze (not happening after major surgery)
  102. Cultivate patience (ongoing) 
And there we go!  That's what I have so far and I'm trying my darndest to keep up with the majority of the list.  I'll be happy that I finished 50% of it let alone a possible 75%.  *fingers crossed*

Have you got any goals to finish by the end of the year too?  If they're similar maybe we could link up somehow and celebrate!

11 November 2014

Paradise Gardens - Part 2...












I took over 500 photos at Howard Finster's place and I could've taken 500 more if I hadn't been a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number and complexity of his creations.  Seriously, how does one person make over 50,000 pieces of 2D and 3D art?  It boggles the mind...

There's a video here that goes into a brief description of his work and illustrates how far reaching his artwork is.  Now, y'all know I'm not a religious person by any means but I have a great respect for people that channel their spirituality and passion into creating things that uplift and inspire.  Such a fascinating history here!

10 November 2014

Dreaming Of Travel...



I took this photo earlier this summer while kicking back in the hammock.  That day I read a few books on my Kindle (old favorites) and then put that away so I could drowse and dream about going to places I'd never been.  Fast forward a few months and amazingly enough those dreams are starting to become a reality.  Jen and Brady are going to Europe!  Woohoo!

Passports are applied for and I started my itinerary outline last week.  We're going to start our adventure in London in late February and we'll be staying in Europe until the end of March or beginning of April.  On the schedule (tentatively) is Ireland, Germany, Faroe Islands, France (not necessarily Paris), Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.  So, what I need now is some suggestions from y'all.  Where to go.  What to see.  How to get there.  Any suggestions on traveling to numerous countries within that time frame.  We especially love parks, vistas and historical venues.  And beer and wine and whiskey, duh.  And books.  And food.  We're going during the early months to avoid crowds and overtly touristy experiences.  We do not speak any language other than (bad) English.  We are on a budget so nothing extravagant except for splurges.

And, of course, I'd love to see you if you are near us!

Send me an email at gritsandmoxieathens@gmail.com if you have a moment.  I'd really appreciate it...

06 November 2014

Paradise Garden - Part 1...



In case you didn't know I'm an avid, rabid fan of outsider art.  R.A.  MillerWickhamBill Traylor.  And, my personal favorite, Howard Finster.  He has a whole garden of creations involving mirrors, glass, cement, bike parts, copper wires, ceramic shards, bible quotes and general junk stuff that ranges over 4 acres.  While it was severely neglected after his death, Paradise Garden has been slowly undergoing a restoration and we were lucky enough to be able to visit during our recent mini-getaway.  Actually, in truth, the whole weekend revolved around going to this place...












Reverend Howard Finster, a self proclaimed  “Man of Visions”, was one of America’s most widely known and prolific self-taught artists producing over 46,991 pieces of art before his death in 2001. He saw himself as a sacred artist, tirelessly recording his visionary prophesies and providing glimpses of a celestial outer space world that God revealed to him. These visionary journeys were very real for Finster, providing a limitless variety of images for his creative endeavors.

Born in rural Alabama in 1916, Finster went on to become a preacher, tent revivalist, and “master of 22 different trades” before building his roadside tribute to inventors the Plant Farm Museum. Later dubbed “Paradise Garden,” this rock and junk encrusted wonderland became the focus of Finster’s life work. In 1976, however, this focus shifted. As he was using his fingers to apply paint to a refurbished bicycle, Finster noticed that the paint smudge on the tip of his finger had formed a human face. A voice spoke to him, saying, “paint sacred art.” Finster began churning out thousands of sermon-laden artworks with subjects ranging from historical characters and popular culture icons like Elvis Presley to evangelistic fantasy landscapes and futuristic cities. Most works are meticulously coated in Finster’s own hand-lettered words and Biblical verse.

To spread his vision to a wider audience, Finster designed record album covers for rock groups such as R.E.M. and Talking Heads, later earning him Record Album Cover of the year by Rolling Stone Magazine. Interviews, films, and his famous appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson further advanced his evangelical message. Finster’s preaching experience and his showman-like personality helped to shape his public persona and ever-increasing celebrity. The industry that surrounded Finster’s name ended up defining his final years. Finster’s intentions remained true to his inner voice—to make sacred art. Well-known and often misunderstood, his position is suspended somewhere between awe for his tireless, faith driven creativity and his esteemed place in the pantheon of contemporary American art. He has been called  both “the grandfather of Southern Folk Art” and “the Andy Warhol of the South.”

03 November 2014

Away For The Weekend...







I hope everyone had a lovely Halloween weekend?  If my bloglovin' and Instagram feed are any indication of how things went for many of you, well, wow!  There were good times and costumes galore...

We didn't dress up since we were in Chattanooga, TN and then Rome, GA for a mini trip but I did find some delicious desserts and hot chocolate on our Friday evening stroll downtown.  Does that count as trick-or-treating?  Sure.  Why the hell not?

It was nice to get away and fine some new-to-us haunts...although I think my Birkenstocks may never be quite the same after a tromp in the icy rain as well as the riverfront muck.

Places to go in Chattanooga per this trip's experiences - Aretha Frankensteins / Sluggo's Vegetarian Cafe / The Hot Chocolatier / Cashew / Milk & Honey 

I'm all ears if you have any suggestions for our next trip to Chattanooga.  Especially in regards to hotels/B&B's since we didn't really mesh with the last one...

Oh, and if you happen to be in Rome, GA then you should really stop by the Full Moon Bakery for a lemon bar or fruit tart.  *drool*

28 October 2014

Roses, Again...



These little roses are so fragrant and so beautiful and so prolific and so stubborn.  Even though we do nothing to encourage or nurture them they still show their faces to the sun.  All year 'round it seems.  They're just a constant in my life.  I'm going to miss them terribly when we move.

Oh yes, moving is in our very near future.  Lucky for us we are only going right down the street to a much simpler abode but one that has a fenced in yard and a friend who's going to be our neighbor.  The kitties won't have to leave their favorite haunts and we can still enjoy the fireflies at dusk.  It's not as nice of a place as what we have now but it's much cheaper and we're going to use that extra money for a long overdue international trip!

So even though I'm saying farewell to my favorite backyard roses I'm excited to start a new chapter in our lives...

27 October 2014

This Guy...



Today is a special day in the lives of Brady and Jennifer...an anniversary of sorts.  I'm so glad, so glad, that this person is my husband and partner.  He's loving, impatient, constantly late, up for any of my harebrained ideas, plaid obsessed, knows more about music than anyone in the whole world, an excellent long-distance driver and an all-round good human being.  Despite our differences, or maybe because of them, we have a strong relationship that just keeps getting better every single day...

I hope I have many more years of adventure, fun and, yes, even drudgery with this guy...

17 October 2014

McDaniel Farm Park / Duluth, GA...



It's sunny, in the 60's during the day and breezy around these parts, and my soul sings to be out in it all as much as I possibly can before this busy weekend.  So yesterday I decided it was going to be an adventure day in nearby Atlanta with a visit to a scenic park, some playing of miniature golf, searching for a french bakery that sold a blueberry pear crumble and finding a Japanese Ramen place that turned out to be uh-may-zing!  Seriously, it was pretty close to perfect.  We even saw a whole gaggle of geese cross the road and stop traffic...in the city, no less...

The first set of photos I'm sharing today are a) numerous and b) browns/neutral.  The next set will be the brighter flowers I found running amok on the property.  Until wasn't til I got home and uploaded everything that I saw how divided my images were in regards to color and material.  McDaniel Farm Park is quite lovely with a restored working farm from the 30's, creeks, wildflowers, gardens and miles of trails.  On a day like yesterday with the changing leaves and a wildly fluctuating sky - clouds, sun, clouds, sun - the rust and dust and metal of both machinery and nature seemed subdued yet somehow just as vibrant as the flowering vines in Archie's Garden...















I must admit something right here and now.  I love floofy fall flowers/seeds so much.  There's just something about them that seems otherworldly.  I mean, don't those wild chestnut husks (right below the tractor picture) look like little alien critters?


As for this last picture, I realized just yesterday that I might have a favorite color of blue when not only my cords, water bottle and jacket trim matched but also my camera bag and phone case.  Really, it was startling to have them all in one place and see that I am definitely a creature of certain preferences...