27 August 2014

Trying To Find Serenity...



It's been a bit quiet over here, right?  That's because I have a bit of writer's block.  Well, not writer's block, really, but rather nothing-fun-because-I've-been-sick-as-shit-and-that's-really-boring-for-everyone kind of block.  My recovery hasn't been without some late, unexpected complications, and I've been fighting fevers and sleeping bunches.  I went back to work too early over the weekend and pushed myself too hard.  I'm super impatient like that and now I've been paying for it like mad...

Today I feel better though and I've finished watching Firefly for the billionth time (hence the title of the post) and have drank my weight in peppermint iced tea.  I'm also going a bit stir crazy but I'm making myself take deep breaths and relax.  I mean, how often do I have a lot of time off of work to just do nothing?  Not much but it's really hard to not feel lazy...

Anyhoo, that's it.  Just wanted to pop by and say 'hi' and share for a moment.  Hope that you're having an amazing week so far!

26 August 2014

Hey...



Advertising is free here on m'blog because I like the idea of getting to know people, their blogs and/or their products in ways that can facilitate a supportive community.  I'm not always super active on the blog (sometimes I disappear for a few days) and I've a bad tendency to respond to comments a few days after people post but my heart and mind are there regardless if my physical access to internet and keyboard are not.  So, I'd be thrilled if you'd overlook all that jazz and join me in making the internet a fun and honest place to be!

I'm offering the option to ad swap or the like for 1, 2 or 3 month periods.  Currently I'm advertising on a few blogs that I love so I do get a bit of traffic flow to G&M.  Why don't I pass along the benefits to you too?

Ads and agreements are subject to approval.  We should have at least a few things in common, eh?

Sizes are all the same (200x100) and ads should have clear images and/or text with no distortions.  I'll be glad to help you create one if you'd like...

Go here or email me at gritsandmoxieathens@gmail.com for more information! 

21 August 2014

Everyday Things...


kayaking the Broad River // lovely flowers blooming in the backyard // my Mom, my Nana and moi...circa 70'a // this guy had a great birthday // kayaking the Broad River the first time ever = massive sunburn // a rare late night night with friends // mile high/wide view // right before surgery with Brady's favorite shirt, obviously


Whoa.  Only 8 pictures for the last several weeks?  There's been so much happen besides lots of kayaking and cake making and plaid shirt wearing (*cough* Brady *cough*) and hiking and surgery and not eating and...wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let me start over by looking back, eh?  We've kayaked the Broad River.  Twice!  I can scratch that off my woefully neglected 100 Before 40 list...finally.  The first time we went on the lower part of the river where we encountered class I & II rapids as well as a small waterfall (woo!) and some great sandbar/swimming action.  The second time we kayaked the upper part of the river which is quieter and calmer but involves much more wildlife.  On that stretch we witnessed hawks diving into the river, lots of turtles (some of which were the size of hubcaps) flailing into the water from their precarious log perches and a blue heron that got really chuffed at us for disturbing its 'stand around time'.  Oops!  On the last trip I bought I waterproof film camera but we didn't end up swimming so I only took a few land shots.  Next time we go, and there will be a next time soon, I hope to do some fun underwater shots...

Brady celebrated his birthday in early August and it was a blast.  We ate lunch with his folks, shopped for lots of records and came home with a fully stocked wine cooler.  He enjoyed a bottle on the porch while I drank some coconut water and then we watched some old movies like Smokey And The Bandit.  Man, I grew up with that movie and it's, um, different than I remember but still hokey funny as all get out...

I had gallbladder surgery almost a week ago and I'm still recovering slowly.  Every day is a bit better than the one before but I'm still surprised in regards how much it hurts!  Sheesh!  But I'll be better soon, soon, soon and I can't wait.  I've totally quit smoking (finally) and I've eschewed alcohol for a good while too.  Maybe in a few weeks or so I'll get to drink up some of that nice birthday wine but until then I'm drinking herbal tea and water constantly.  I'm eating less and better every day, and while I don't care about my weight necessarily, I do care that I'm trying to put the best things in my body.  Fruit and veggies mainly although I've been craving a lot pasta since my surgery.  My taste buds are down and out so I'm mainly about 'cold' or 'hot' stuff.  Fun, right?

The only good thing about surgery is that I've been able to read til my heart is full and my eyes hurt...or til the Percocet kicks in.  I've read everything from cookbooks to novels to guidebooks and more.  Brady has to push aside at least a dozen books every time he wants to crawl into bed...

Oh, and thank you for the comments, cards, calls and emails.  Y'all made me feel so much better!

Happy Thursday!

15 August 2014

Keep Me In Your Thoughts...



I'm undergoing surgery this morning (in fact, I'll probably be done by the time you've read this) and I hope that you'll send me lots of positive energy.  My gallbladder has to come out (yay for 4th generation gallbladder problems) and I'm hoping that the surgery will be routine as can be.  *fingers crossed*  I'm not looking forward to missing a week of work during one of the busiest weekends/weeks of the year but I've got to do it, eh?  I even bought new pajamas, complete with floral bottoms, so I can lounge in true Grandma style.  Even found some velour flip flops for my feetsies as well as ankle socks with raccoons on them.  Don't let all the glamor make you jealous...

Oh, and I've mailed out a good number of postcards to all of you who've written in the last month or so.  Hope you get them soon, soon, soon!

14 August 2014

Sawnee Mountain Preserve...


Brady and I had to severely curtail our traveling adventures for the last few weeks due to work and family obligations, and due to the fact that I've been ill for a while.  Luckily, we were able to get out of the house this week and not only kayak the Broad River again but also spend the day roadtrippin' about 1 1/2 hours northwest of Athens.  There was food - Persian/Greek hybrid attached to a sketchy gas station (awesome!) as well as donuts (oh my fucking god, they were so good after 2 weeks of almost nothing but coconut water and split pea soup) - and then some mild hiking to Sawnee Mountain Preserve...


Sawnee Mountain is named after a Native American Creek who lived in the area and made it a point to help the settlers, well, settle in.  Unfortunately, his kindness didn't do him any favors, and he and his family were eventually forced onto the Trail Of Tears where they perished like so many Native Americans during the time.  The mountain that bears his name is now home to spectacular views and a state of the art information center, and is the site of numerous Cherokee spiritual rituals that illustrate the history and heritage of the people that live/lived there.  It's both honoring and supporting a culture that has seen, and still sees, a good deal of tragedy, misunderstanding and misappropriation...





Once you get to the top of the mountain you find the Indian Seats where changes in the rock resemble chairs and you can sit out suspended over nothing.  They're also used in some of the Native American ceremonies.  See the outcropping in the above picture?  That's one of them...




I can't believe how I climbed all over this mountain and stood on wobbly rocks to take in the view.  For someone whose been terrified of heights for years now, I think I've made some vast improvements.  Maybe it was just the mountain/adventure itself since it was so quiet (we saw no one during our 1 hour+ hike) and serene and full of things to see like snake sheddings and brilliant bird feathers.  Oh, and huge ants.  Giant.  Scary.  Stay away from me.  Allergic!  Not serene.  But other than those, yes, just perfect.

07 August 2014

Guest Post - Emma From A Splash Of Vanilla...


Hi all!

I'm Emma, an Australian food blogger who writes a blog called A Splash of Vanilla.  I'm mostly health conscious but have a sweet tooth so my blog has quite a few recipes for cakes and sweet things (particularly for someone who claims to be health conscious!).  I'm always thinking up healthier recipes for sweets so when Jen told me she was interested in an animal friendly recipe for a guest post, I thought of these lovely little lime and blackberry cakes I posted a while back. I know American readers have beautiful berries and limes in their part of the world and thought they'd be appreciated, particularly since these muffins are kind to animals as well.  They're great warm from the oven with a cuppa!

Oh and because I’m not vegan nor do I have anywhere near a complete understanding of the vegan lifestyle (and the sugar issue is an important one), here are some links which might explain things a bit better than I can:

Grassroots veganism
Vegan nutritionista  
Panela organic cane sugar

Thanks so much Jen! :)


Recipe for blackberry lime muffins:
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used oat milk)
1 tblspn white wine vinegar
1 cup white self-rising flour
1 cup wholemeal self-rising flour
1/4 tspn baking powder
1/4 cup raw caster sugar (for vegans – organic cane sugar)
Pinch salt
1/2 cup grapeseed or macadamia oil
1/2 cup organic light agave syrup
3 small limes, finely zested
1 tspn pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with 9 medium sized cupcake/muffin liners (I used the tall muffin liners, if you use smaller/shorter ones, you might need 10).  In a medium to large jug, add the milk then vinegar and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Sift flours, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Add the oil, agave, lime zest and vanilla extract to the milk/vinegar mixture and whisk until combined.  Add liquid ingredients and blackberries to flour and fold gently until just combined.  Spoon into cases and bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops are light golden brown and spring back when pressed.  Make sure to turn the muffin tin around after about 18 minutes so they brown evenly.
Allow to sit in tin for 5 minutes then move to cooling rack.


Makes: 9-10

Note:  These freeze well; wrap individually and tightly in plastic wrap then defrost at room temperature and microwave at medium/high temperature for 20 seconds or so.

Emma's blog is just so darn lovely that I oooh and ahhh every single time I read it.  Please stop by and take a gander, eh?  And I'm so happy that she agreed to share her delicious recipe with us.  Yummmmmy!  -  Jennifer

01 August 2014

29 July 2014

Arabia Mountain, Atlanta...



It was a hot, blustery day about a week ago and we were at a bit of a loss as where to go for our roadtrip adventure.

Too lazy to drive far?  Check.

Broke and needed something free/cheap?  Check.

Quiet place without hordes of crowds?  Check.

The answer to our search was the lovely and desolate Arabia Mountain area...






Arabia Mountain is older than Stone Mountain, which is a major tourist attraction here in Georgia, and is considered somewhat of a secret.  I can see why since there isn't too much to do other than hike/bike but this kind of thing is just perfect for us.  The sky seemed huge up there on the mountain...reminding us of Montana and Wyoming just a bit.  I wish I was a better photographer so the picture would really tell the story of how big the view can be. 

Let is be said, however, that photos don't capture the sound of wind rushing through the brush and trees and that was something I won't forget.  It sounded like a cross between a burbling creek and a grade school recorder/flute.  It matched the vista just right...

We spent most of our time hiking the mountain but there were also several abandoned quarries that we spent just a few minutes in since they were too spooky and too hot, as well as an animal rehabilitation program that we were immediately denied entry to.  Turns out we wandered onto that property a bit by accident!  Oops!

Oh, and there is something that grows up on the mountain that is unique to Georgia, rare and only in rocky outcroppings - diamorpha!  Also known as elf opine, this plant is quickly becoming endangered and there were notices about being very careful when hiking as to not disturb the growths.  It appeared that most people have heeded the advice but we did some damage to areas where the diamorpha lay dormant.  *don't like*

And you may be wondering what the heck the dome/cairn things are in the first picture?  Arabia Mountain is pretty big and most areas really look similar so they have the piles of rock there as a guide.  Even with them there you can easily get turned around if you wander too far from them...

We ended up the day with a bit of sunburn and windburn but our tummies full of some seriously good Thai eats we found in a very out-of-the-way location.  Gah, that basil fried rice we had haunts my food dreams!

24 July 2014

Everyday Things...


these boys and their music // Helen, GA is a cheesetatic Alpine Village // with good friends at Creature Comfort Brewery // admiring my tubing bruises // a find for a friend // Hurricane Shoals // missing Ms. Chubby // Thai Food *droooool* // Arabia Mountain

Here in Athens we're all gearing up for the beginning of August...when 30,000+ people return to UGA for the fall semester.  I've been working mainly 12-14 hour days in the bakery (mainly) and on the floor (sometimes...and by 'floor' I mean serving or managing) and then taking 2 days off to recuperate in style.  Style = 1 day in bed watching reading and/or watching movies, and 1 day hiking/kayaking.  I don't mind a bit really since I'm fed, watered and allowed to wear almost anything I want.  I've told y'all I'm a simple person and I really mean that.  Maybe too simple.  Probably too simple.

Annnnnd here are some things that I found/read/ate/want as of late...

Obsessed with linen Japanese aprons for work...

Really wishing I had this postcard to swap with someone...

I recently finished reading an Alan Turing biography so I'm beyond thrilled that they're making a movie about his life/work AND Benedict Cumberbatch is starring!

Just picked up a copy of A Slight Trick of the Mind from the library and I can't wait to get started...

Best sunburn remedies?  Yes, PLEASE!  We got cooked while kayaking on the river yesterday even though we applied at least 3 layers of 50+ sunblock...

These two dogs are the cutest things ever!  Fingers crossed they find an amazing home ASAP...

I've been making all things lavender and lemon in the bakery but this bundt cake is *must* for brunch this weekend...

Happy Thursday to you!  Have a great one, eh?

23 July 2014

This Little Light Of Mine...





What's a Georgia summer without a thunderstorm every afternoon?  I love the look of the sunlight during that time of day when the rain is about to roll in.  That yellowish hazy glow that's one part foggy and one part spooky?  It's so beautiful to me.  I abhor overhead lighting so I rely on lots of natural light to keep me from tripping over roving/roaming chihuahuas.  But that dim storm light gives me an early excuse to flip on a few on my favorite lamps and bulbs that I usually reserve for nighttime illumination...

Oh, and how perfect would it be to have a thunderstorm lamp for rainy afternoons?  I saw it a few months back but I just might try my hand at making one, eh?

18 July 2014

Athens Life - Hurricane Shoals...



After spending most of last week and the weekend under fake lighting I decided that I would take a day trip to somewhere, anywhere, this week.  Even if it meant that I would get gross and dirty since it was hot, buggy and muggy.  Well, that day off was all those things but it was also miniature golf, ice tea in mason jars, a scenic country drive, a 10 minute fight with Brady in a parked car (the stress of work had made me a wee bit cranky) and some exploring north of Athens.

Hurricane Shoals is where we ended up and while it wasn't the best park I've ever been to it certainly wasn't the worst.  The shoals were full of folks splashing around to beat the heat but the real gem of the place was the spooky Village-esque arrangement of historical buildings.  They were almost all open to the public all the time even though the had furniture, books and farming implements inside.  It was actually a bit spooky...












Yep.  I got a nice little sunburn that day but, hey, I was out from underneath all those fake lights in the bakery...

16 July 2014

Sights/Sites...







This may seem like the oddest collection of pictures but they all are from things that popped up the last few days and caught my eye...or they've been around so long it's like discovering them again for the first time.

One of my favorite pictures hangs over our heads while we sit in bed.  It's been in that spot for over 10 years now so I kind of took it for granted but I recently told the story of how I procured it (not that exciting but somewhat funny) and I fell in love with it all over again.

Glasses from two places that have great memories of some seriously good times.  We visited Bull & Bush in Denver on our US 'round trip honeymoon years and sampled some of their delicious whiskeys.  Too much whiskey.  Way too much whiskey.  As for Creature Comforts, it's a new Athens brewery with a focus on small craft beers that tend to be on the sour side.  Both places have rung with our (slightly tipsy) laughter as we whiled away the hours with dear friends.

A day trip to a local park yields rushing shoals, miniature golf complete with miniature homes for decor, a mysterious marmot that ran for the hills and a little village that sat eerily quiet under the blazing sun and is stocked with odd remnants of the early 1900's.

Purple basil blooms appeared overnight.  It all smells so good!

This little one is an orgyia leucostigma or 'white-marked tussock moth' larvae.  They sting but I didn't find that out the hard way, thank goodness.  They're also less seen than they were in years past due to a fungus that controls the gypsy moth population affecting the O. Leucostigma as well.

Today I'm going to try out the new Cuban restaurant that opened on the Eastside of Athens and them I'm doing a deep summer clean on the house.  Well, as much as I can anyways.  I pulled something in my back yesterday while hiking (ah, the joys of getting older) and my mobility is fairly limited.  I'm not a good sick person so I'll just keep chugging along.  It did keep us from kayaking today but I'm hoping that we can do it tomorrow instead.  Hmmm, maybe I should rest up today after all, eh?  I need to enjoy these mid-80's temperatures before they're gone again...

Happy Wednesday everyone!

11 July 2014

3 Things I Like About Me...



Lately the news is jam packed with misogynistic statements...it seems that world is against women. The schools dress codes for girls becoming stricter while conversation with boys/men about how the problem doesn't lie with a mere outfit is almost no where to be found.  Hell, women are against women.  Judging looks.  Judging outfits.  Telling someone they've never met before to 'cover up so my husband won't look at you'.  Things like that.  Yes, I read that on a blog for real.  A very popular blog.  It's enough of a blow to someone who already struggles with our society's notions of ageism - I'm almost 40 and have lines around my eyes *GASP*.  And bodyism - I'm curvy and have cellulite on my knees.  I'm also a heavily tattooed (yes, I still get shit for that) and well-educated baker who isn't having kids.  There's not much to represent me in mainstream media right now.  There's not much representing women in general.  It can be frustrating and maddening and saddening...

But as I head into this weekend I want to remind myself that while I struggle with and against a number of things, both in the media and within myself, I've got a lot of good things going on with my mind, body and life.  A LOT of good things.  SO MANY GOOD THINGS!  You have to remind yourself all that good when you're fighting a whooooooooole lot of bad.

I'm willing to try anything once...within reason.   Whether it's fashion, food, books or tubing down a polluted river (yep, that was my 4th of July experience in Helen, GA), I'll give it a whirl once.  You've all heard the sayings about seizing the day and living in the moment but I really try to embody that concept on the daily.  Why not, eh?

I know myself and know when I'm not going to compromise.  Okay, I just wrote about trying new things as much as possible but I also try to draw limits.  Gah, that's a fine line.  For example, I've gone out to the bars for *insert thing here* but you know what?  I hate going to bars.  Hate it.  So, I don't do it unless it's a going away party or a special occasion (like Athfest).  It's liberating and fulfilling to say 'no' sometimes just as much as it is to say 'what the hell...why not?' because you know yourself because you've been willing to try new things and push the envelope.  And as a Southern woman this is a big deal for me because I was taught to constantly compromise.  Yay for changing a lifetime of ingrained habit!

I try to be happy as much as possible.  Happiness is work.  Hard work.  And I'm so proud of myself for choosing happiness over anger as I've become older.  Oh, I used to be a very angry lady at one point in my life.  One of exes was a very negative guy and really hurt me (verbally) and it took me a long time to realize that my anger towards everyone and everything had to be addressed.   Years where I partied hard, made even more horrible relationship choices (verbally and physically abusive ones) and did whatever I could to avoid self-reflection.  Now, I'm thankful every day for a wonderful partner, my dogs/kitties, my education, my friends and my life.  I'm happy.  Because I worked, and continue to work, for it.  I deserve it.  So do you.

I also like: my hands, my scarred up knees (I rode BMX as a kid), my defensive driving abilities, my affinity for clogs, the different voices I use for different animals, my cookie making skills, my ability to read a 250 page book in a hour, my ability to wash a sink full of dishes in under 5 minutes, my ability to quote feminist literature, the way I use a fork, how I can pick things up with my toes, my blue eyes and dark hair, the way I can wear florals with flair, the way I can give a look that kills a conversation and so much more. 

I'd also like to hear what you like about yourself.  What makes you the person you are?

10 July 2014

Postcards From Athens / Postcards From Me...



I'm once again putting out the call for postcard correspondence.  I've been so happy to meet so many of you folks from 'round the world!  I stocked up on odd cards from New Orleans, from some locals parks and some fun local ones fresh from the printing company.  The only thing I'm missing is some more people to send them all to...

Go here to find out more.  Hope to hear from you soon...

Vinyl Fever - Timber Timbre...



When I find an album I love it becomes a life long relationship that weathers all sorts of ups and downs and rounds and rounds.  Is it that way for you as well?  I'm not talking about playing an artist on repeat for 2 weeks and then phasing it out...although I do that with some songs that aren't part of the long term love.  No, I'm talking about an album that you'll defend to anyone and everyone.  One that has a million memories, big and small, that come to mind when you hear the first notes strike up.  One that you'll wait til the band goes on tour so you can get a copy of it in vinyl just to have the music in hand after the last of live notes have faded.  This is one of those albums for me and Brady...

Timber Timbre is spooky stuff...rooted in these swampy, bluesy notes that resonate with my home town of Waycross, GA.  The band has swagger and they hum in your blood like cheap neon.  I know I've spoke of them before but hot dang!  They're so, so good.

Bad Ritual & Do I Have Power are my favorites on Creep On Creepin' On.  Give 'em a whirl...

07 July 2014

New Orleans - Sculpture Garden...



These are the last of the photos that I'm sharing from the N.O. trip and they are the crummiest of the crummy by a long shot.  I don't know if it was the heat, the food coma or the fact that I'd taken about a bazillion pictures at Metairie Cemetery earlier on this same day, but I just couldn't get my act together.  I won't even think of showing you the Insectarium photos...yeeeesh!

So, after that wonderful introduction I'm sure you just can't wait to see all the pictures, right?








Right after taking all these (cruddy) photos I beat the pants off Brady in miniature golf.  Yeah!  We almost went kayaking but decided to splurge on Italian ice (me) and homemade cannoli (him) at Angelo Brocato's.  They've been making goodies since 1905 so you know that everything there is pretty darn good...