18 September 2014

My Life In Pictures...


a perfect post from the swap // my favorite new glass to fill with iced tea // Toccoa Falls // my name in print for a local publication...woo! // missing Miss Vienna on National Dog Day // hidden garden in Metro Atlanta // enjoying the last of summer with peppermint tea and 'mater sandwiches // Brady was a hit at a recent gathering

The day I started this post it was cool and overcast here in Athens...yes, yes and yes.  It fit my just-want-to-read-in-bed-and-eat-tater-tots kind of mood.  Whenever it's pretty out and I stay inside I feel like I'm robbing myself of outside time.  So how lucky was I that I got all of my cull-the-closet-clean-tent-gear-make-the-house-spotless-visit-the-library things done then (this was Monday when the post began) and since then I've been hiking around Athens soaking up this nice 80 degree weather...

Other things that have been happening since Monday morning:
  • lots of discussions about the independence vote and what that would mean for Scotland and England
  • made crock-pot saag aloo
  • seriously culled my closet and took 8 bags of clothes to a local shelter
  • cleaned our tent and gear in preparation for FALL CAMPING!
  • started watching Supernatural and I love how ridiculous it is (and so much like the X-Files in many ways)
  • came thiiiiiiiiiiiis close to chopping off all my hair but I've decided keep my long longs after my Mom showed my some old photos of me with short hair...yeah, not good
  • hit over 60 days smoke free and I know this time it's for real because I found some cigarette packs when cleaning our coats and I didn't even flinch when I tossed them out
  • took some awesome pictures in the park but then my computer freaked out and I lost them all once they were downloaded and deleted from my camera *shakes fists at sky*
Today I'm going to do a bit more of that hiking thing but not too much.  I've got to save my energy for a busy weekend.  It's a home game and it's on the early side so that means lots of hungover/drunk folks wandering into the restaurant Saturday night and Sunday Brunch.  And nightmare traffic.  But thanks to this awesome weather it will be an easy walk to work...

12 September 2014

Swippy Swappy...



I've got a huge stack of Toccoa Falls & Georgia themed postcards that I picked up recently.  Send me a postcard with your name and return address and I'll send you one back featuring waterfalls or the like.  Oh, and maybe tell me what book you've read recently that you'd recommend?  I'm searching for some new reads besides all the travel guides I had cluttering the bedside...

Go here for all the information...

11 September 2014

Just A Day In The Life...


I've said this before but it's worth saying again.  Realization = that as of late my blog has definitely taken a turn for the different.  Back in the day I used to post some pretty personal stuff - pictures of myself (whoa), lots of opinions on body shaming/imagery, my dreams/hopes/goals, etc...and I still do from time-to-time - but now it's mainly travel stuff, my new found love of the great outdoors here in GA and some records that I like.  I'm okay with that in general but the feeling of disconnect from readers about all the other things that make me, well, me has been acute.

Gah, I'm gearing up a lighthearted post about every day things in my life as this kind of monumental shift in my thinking when really it's 'hey, I should really show you all some of the stuff that's been happening with me so you can now choose whether to stay a part of my blogging world, ignore me or ditch me faster than you can say lickskillet.'  That last part is derived from a lovely idiom my Nana was fond of.  Ha!  / go here for more of those sweet southern sayings /

Anyhoo, let me just start the damn post...


We got a ton of videos for me to watch while I was recuperating from surgery but I was too high on Percocet for the first four days to watch anything other than the inside of my eyelids.  After that I was finally ready to start the video marathon!  Unfortunately, we begin it all with Beastmaster and that was rather sucky.  I remember that movie fondly as a child but it is a totally different experience as an adult.  RIP TORN WAS THE BAD GUY?  But the rest of the movies were so much fun - Police Academy, Back To The Future, Willy Wonka (the original, duh), Finding Nemo, Thor 2 (gosh, I've become obsessed with comic book movies lately...maybe it's the heat?) - that I ended up keeping them all much later than I should have.  Like I always do.  Sheesh.


See this?  This is why I can't have flowers on my porch even though I keep trying.  What Mama Kitty doesn't eat she destroys by sheer body weight and determination.  While everyone else in the Northern Hemisphere is all fall, pumpkins, warm socks, chilly weather we are still in the 90's here in Georgia.  Yes, my cat is trying to cool off by laying in dirt.  Think about that while you're snuggled up in the cold with whatever nice hot beverage you're sipping on.  No, I'm not bitter.  Maybe a bit bitter.  Maybe a LOT bitter.


Hey, look!  It's a flower...or what's left one!  That's something you never see on this blog, right?  Disclaimer: my name is Jennifer and my weakness is closeup photography of flora and fauna.  Since I don't buy flowers for my house and rarely, if ever, pick them from yard, this is my way of enjoying their beauty and existence outside of seeing them blossom and leave.  Right now there are still a number of flowers around including spider lilies which are one of my all-time favorites but, alas, it doesn't grow at our house.  Fall is on the way though...even if we can't feel it yet.  Some leaves are yellowing and blossoms are becoming scarcer as the days grow shorter.  Even though I'm not a huge fan of making everything pumpkin spice (I do love spices though) I am really, really stoked for Fall!  I love cold weather.  And scarves.  And boots.  And hats.  And pink cheeks.  And crunchy leaves.  And the smell of woodsmoke in the air...

So, there's that.  Things of the every day / everyday that make up the whole...

10 September 2014

Atlanta History Center...



Brady has an internship in Atlanta this semester and his first meeting was last week on a very stormy day.  A day that I decided to drive with him to explore the Atlanta History Center.  A day that will live in infamy as the day that I careened into what seemed to be a lake in the middle of the road near downtown Decatur...at 45mph...while other folks drove at 75mph and almost killed us all.  Needless to say, by the time I got to my final destination of the AHC I was thankful to be on solid, albeit flooded, ground that I wasn't driving on.  I was also thankful that there was an exhibit on folk art in the ever changing south.

The exhibit was extensive and I spent several hours in there listening to old stories including one about a talking ghost dog that was hilarious.  In the music section there was a whole faux chapel set up for shape note singing which is something I grew up with in my youth and despite my lack of religious affiliation I still find the hymns something beyond beautiful to hear...

Hand-in-hand with stories and singing go quilting and weaving and stitching.  Quilting bees and the motif of quilts often gave women a chance to mingle and to express themselves and commemorate events. The ladies in the picture above were from the Collins family, a big part of the weaving community in a small town here in GA and the possessors of some mighty fine hats.  They never sold their work (the blanket in the picture was gifted to AHC) but they did enter the occasional item in textile competitions in Atlanta where they inevitably won.




There were also exhibits on basket weaving (I dream of owning a sweetgrass basket), sun bonnets, net casting, embroidery, lace making and so much more.  Oh, and pottery!  I love folk art pottery.  My learnings from the The Folk Pottery Museum came in handy on this adventure and I tried to identify styles and makers without looking at the information plaques.  Alas, I didn't fair too well but I had fun refreshing my memory...


There was an excellent display on 'modern' folk art and it focused not only with innovators in the field as well as the controversies that arise from different factions of artists but also how the immigrating population has infused southern folk art with their own cultural art.  I loved this part!  And I loved the paper planes that were displayed as part of the changing faces of old traditions...




The torrential rain meant that some of the outside exhibits and interactions weren't really open to the public.  But when the weather let up for a minute I walked around the historical farm and snapped just a few shots before it began raining again.  I cannot wait to go back and explore some more!

If you're in Atlanta for the day I highly recommend that you stop by the AHC and spend a few hours looking around.  There are lots of exhibits I didn't feature in this post including an Olympic display, a Civil War piece, Native Americans in GA (which a bit lean but had a great collection of brief documentaries that played) and one on some famous golf guy.  I skipped all those but the Native American one because the museum closes at 5.30pm and between the rain and an out-of-the-way trip to Revolution Donuts, I was very limited on time.  But, hey, vegan vanilla bean DONUTS!  It was totally worth it...

07 September 2014

Toccoa Falls...

After having to be very careful about lifting, moving and, well, almost everything for several weeks, I finally got clearance from the doctor to get back in the swing of things full force.  For me, that kind of talk means only one thing - road trip!  You'd never seen a happier person behind the wheel of a tiny Kia in all your life.  I knew that I wanted to go up to North Georgia where it was cooler (a bit) and see some waterfalls and hike and maybe have some pizza.  I did it all, y'all.  I did it all...


Can you believe this waterfall?  In Georgia?  Toccoa Falls are the tallest east of the Mississippi...even taller than Niagra Falls.  There's not much hiking to get to them.  In fact, you pay $2 at the Toccoa Falls College bookstore then mosey out back and then you're gawping at the falls.  Easy peasy and pretty for those looking for a relaxing hour or so.  For us it just whet our appetite to do some real moderate hiking before the rain rolled in.  Alas, our adventures took a different turn than expected but that's for another time...


We did relax and take it all in though...no doubt about that.  The flora and fauna were quite varied due to the mist from the falls.  And there was no one there but us!








The falls are only about 45 minutes from Athens but there is nothing else to see in Toccoa for the most part other than some Civil War sites (not my thing).  It's a great beginning stop if you're heading to Tallulah Gorge / Falls, Lake Rabun and Black Rock Mountain.

Road trips, y'all.  I love them so much!

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...