22 June 2016

Project 365: Trying To Catch Up...& Opening Up Some Realness...


Jesus pleezus.  Y'all!  Life has been beyond frustrating, wonderful and stressful around these parts.  Really, in the last 4 days there have been parties, tattoos, gatherings, bondings, breakings and lots of laughter/tears.  Why can't this stuff be spread out a bit, eh?  But I'm still here and kicking and keeping my head held high so that's the best case scenario one could expect from times like these.

Ok, time to get real about work...which is something I never do here but it's been such a weird part of our lives lately.  *deeeeep breath*  Brady has been increasingly unhappy at his job for the last number of months due to a variety of issues and his attitude was reflecting that and it was causing us a ton of stress at home and at work.  Plus some stuff happened that made me really take a step back and see my job/workplace in a different, and, unfortunately, unflattering light for the first time in my career there.  Long story short?  Brady will no longer be working with me after next Saturday.  I wish it could've happened in a more constructive manner (things kind of came to a breaking point a few days ago and while things are fine now, it was a very negative experience for everyone there for a bit) but now that we are over that hump he's finding himself the recipient of a wave of good, no, GREAT things.  He's had a few job offers already, another band has approached him about possibly playing, he's had call backs from interviews he started right after we got home (like I said, he was ready to start moving on to something new some time ago) and we know we are going to be okay (not better  and not worse) financially.  While he's a bit stressed from it all, he seems to be in a better mindset then he has been in a long, long time.  And that makes me soooo happy!  It'll be weird not having him around after 3 years of working in close proximity but he's got great opportunities on the horizon and it's time for change.

As for me, I've come to terms with my feelings toward my job and I still love so many aspects of it.  I'll be staying and trying lots of new recipes in the bakery as I will probably begin to transition my hours more towards that (even though I manage the bakery I tend to split my hours doing other job duties in-house) and away from general managing.  Like I said, good (and even tasty) things on the horizon!

Now if we could just work on having more a regular work week between the two of us, like 2 days off? please?, then we will be golden, golden, golden.

So while all that was going on since Sunday, I've done so many things to counterbalance all the negative/weird stuff.  And that's the preface for this round of my Project 365.  I'm still not photographing every day but I'm trying to do it when I remember...


top to bottom // left to right:

/ I have been spending most of my free time reading up on crystals and stones, their uses for life goals, etc.  Y'all know I'm not a religious person but I do believe we are all made of stardust so our bodies and even our emotions are affected by our environment.  Rocks, stones, crystals are all part of our environment and therefore they probably have a pull on us in someway.  And since I've started this (right after returning from Puerto Rico when work starting going to shit) I've been collecting some meaningful stones and keeping them close.  The ones in my hand here are tumbled emerald (to help bring Brady and I's hearts closer, and to promote overall wisdom), ametrine (citrine and amethyst together in a quartz, which is rare, helps to bring tranquility and inner peace) and an aragonite star cluster (increases energy and feelings of self-worth).  I just bought these Monday so we shall see how things go from here forward.  The tigers eye I have hasn't left my pocket in weeks.  Got to do what I can to stay happy and healthy!
/ My backyard needs some TLC.  Do any of you have any suggestions for easy, cheap and cute ways to spruce up this bland space?  It's a literal jungle out there...
/ I went to a friend's summer solstice party and I brought these as a fun joke but then ended up drinking two of them and having the world's biggest sugar crash.  Holy moly!  I still have 10 of them (no one else would even consider drinking them, joke or no) and absolutely no idea what to do with them?  Ughhhh...
/  The fundraiser I mentioned a while back raised SO MUCH MONEY for the families and victims of the Orlando shooting.  I went and got a tattoo and it was so packed in the space you could barely move.  So much love!
/  A customer came in with this shirt on and my Waycross, GA Okefenokee Swamp heart went pitter pat!  I seriously want one of these...
/  Did anyone try these cookies yet?  I tend to bake at home when I'm trying to calm my mind.  I made 9 doz of these things and then gave them all away.  That made me feel much better!
/  These are some of my silly, great, wonderful co-workers together at the benefit (waiting in line where it was so freakin' hot) and we all got matching rainbow tattoos designed by new tattoo artist ...
/  And here is a bad picture of such said tattoo the day after I had it done.  Right on my bendy leg part!  I had just healed from another leg piece (uh-oh, I'm back on the tattoo wagon after taking some years off) so the last 10 days have been full of slight pain, itchiness and lotion everywhere.  Oh, and my New Balance shoes have a Puerto Rican story to tell so check back tomorrow to find out how I didn't think they'd survive my silly mishap...
/  Most of my plants are holding steady (staying green and overall happy) and some are absolutely thriving since they were moved around the house to better catch the light.  Out of the 30+ houseplants I have right now I'm only struggling with about 2 of them...although we lost a few during our trip despite our housesitter's best effort to keep them alive...

So life keeps on a rollin'.  I've got a library talk tomorrow as well as a charity fashion show then it's AthFest all weekend long!  Work is bound to be busy but fun with the events bringing in people from all over the south...

20 June 2016

Vinyl Fever...



Elvis Costello.  How I love thee.  From his iconic (and never changing) style to his vegetarian causes to his (duh) music, he just does it for me.  Even after that summer where Brady listened to nothing but Elvis Costello and I almost lost my mind, I was quick to be back on the train...

Armed Forces is one of his most recognized albums although the cover here is from the 1979 reissue.  It's got Oliver's Army and Accidents Will Happen and (a personal favorite) Party Girl.  To quote every single musician I work with, 'it's so tight!'

This album, while an absolute favorite, was not a catalyst for my first blush for Costello.  For me it was his song Veronica from the album Spike which premiered in 1989.  Featuring Paul McCartney, the song was written about Costello's Grandmother as she struggled with Alzheimer's disease.  It's so personal and the video is rather heartbreaking but there still an element of whimsical pop that shines through...

Also, he was in Spice World?  Wow.

Go here to see other vinyl fever posts...

17 June 2016

Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies...



Well hellllllo Friday!  For me, my work week is just now getting into full swing (I generally work around 30-36 hours starting around Friday morning and ending Sunday night) but for most of y'all this means a few days of relaxation or adventure.  Wahoo!  And what better way to celebrate a weekend than to bake up a mess of cookies?

Now, these aren't your classic chocolate chip cookies.  Well, kinda.  They still have most of the traditional ingredients but I'm giving mine a more toffee/caramel-y flavor with the addition of maple syrup and dark brown sugar.  They'll be a bit more crispy and chewy with a lovely glaze and crackle.  These aren't soft, pillowy cookies.  No way.  They have substance!  You can scoop your ice cream with these.  They hold their own with milk.  Coffee?  They're ready for the challenge...dip away.

Dark Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup melted butter, not boiling hot
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 eggs, room temperature
2 cups chocolate chips

Melt butter and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line a pan with parchment paper and set aside

Mix together sugars and slowly add warm(ish) melted butter.  Do not add HOT butter.  Mix in maple syrup then beat in eggs one at a time.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt then slowly add to wet mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips.

The mixture will look very dark.  That's expected.  It should be loose but it shouldn't be runny.  It will firm in fridge.

Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes then scoop out into balls about 2 Tablespoon size onto the parchment covered baking sheet.

Bake for 10-13 minutes or til tops are just set.

Cool for a few minutes then gently transfer to wire rack.

Store in airtight container for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

16 June 2016

Travel Adventures // Puerto Rico / South Part 1...



I have absolutely no idea how my husband wore a) black and b) pants not shorts for the majority of the trip...and especially in southern Puerto Rico where the temperatures are a good deal warmer than elsewhere on the island.  This man is doing a capsule wardrobe like a champ and he doesn't even know what that is.  Also notice that he stole my hat again...

Anyhow, here are some of the adventures we had in Ponce and Guanica.


My favorite bird in the world - the brown pelican!  I was obsessed with pterodactyls when I was a kid and then I found out that the pelicans I loved to watch fly over the Georgia coast were very much like those dinosaurs.  Omg.

Giant Cretaceous pterodactyls belonging to the Pteranodon family had heads that were shaped like modern pelicans and pelican-like expandable lower jaws. Like pelicans, they used the plunge-diving technique to catch prey in the water.  How cool is that?

And the pelican in the photo kept scooting closer and closer to me for a handout...which I did not give.  I bet he would have jumped on my shoulder if I would've let him but he was too big.  I wonder if he would've tried to eat my head?  It's happened to someone before!  What a story that would've been...


Sculpture at La Guancha which is a boardwalk in Ponce.  It wasn't the weekend, which is when it becomes insanely busy, but it was still nice to walk around with a cold beer and talk to a few locals about UFO sightings on the island.  Yep.  That happened.


It got so hot that I wanted to do something outside of the ocean and walking around in the sun.  What's a great way to putter about in the air-conditioning for a few hours and see cool stuff?  MUSEUM.  No malls.  I hate malls.  Bleh.


There was an exhibit on Queen Isabella II at the Ponce Museum of Art and it involved not only learning about her history (which I want to find out more about because that woman had a life, whoa) but also dressing up in period garb and trying your hand at shadow tracing.  If you look closely you can see our outlines on the white cards Brady is holding up.  Although our profiles are eerily similar now-a-days with our hair being the same length!

We were also allowed to view the only surviving Puerto Rican flag from the original three creations.  It had a crazy long history of not only coming into existence but what happened afterwards and the steps that are now being made to slow its inevitable demise.  Unfortunately, I can't find any information on the backstory at the moment but if I do I'll update.   Short story was that the flags were made for the revolution, the revolution failed, priests hid the flags, priests died protecting flags, one flag made it to the US via a soldiers family and now it is back in Puerto Rico for a visit/research.  The docent told the story so beautifully and my apologies to him for my quick and awful retelling...



I have a thing about birds (like you couldn't tell) and adore the ones in the genus Fregata.  Frigate birds, or scissor birds in Puerto Rico, are huge and their outline in the sky is something to see.  When were floating on our backs in the water I'd watch them swoop for hours.  They are also kleptoparasites and will steal food from other creatures.  I like that they are kinda the jerks of the bird world.  So, I was obviously drawn to this piece of iron art at the museum...


Still in Ponce!  This is the Parque de Bombas found in the Plaza las Delicias and it's one of the most iconic buildings in Ponce.  It's the old fire station and the architecture is both Moorish and Victorian.  So, so, so cool!  I wish I could've gotten a better shot but it was lunch hour and there was no way in hell I was going to risk my life by standing in the street to get a frontal shot...

Speaking of lunch...I ate ice cream for lunch that day!  King Cream has the best natural coconut ice cream I've ever had and we went back twice during our short visit to Ponce.  There were old men playing dominoes in the park and I'd just slurp down ice cream while trying to learn some new strategies from them...


This is Parador Guanica 1929.  It was our base hotel during our 4 days on the south part of the island.   This is also where I recovered from a serious bout of food poisoning that had me rockin' and a reelin' for over 36 hours.  Thank god for Puerto Rican soap operas and air-conditioning and king size beds.  It still pains me a bit to look at this photo.  Bad memories.  Sorry Parador Guanica 1929!  You were great in so many ways that I just can't appreciate right now...

Ok, I can appreciate one.  Guess what they had on the grounds?


HUGE WILD IGUANAS!  That thing was seriously 5 feet long.  They are not indigenous and they have no natural predators (just cars and humans) so they are out. of. control.  A few places we ate at were cooking them up (tastes like chicken we were told) but I said noooooo thanks.  I'd rather watch them meander about...


Right before the dreaded sickness kicked in we found ourselves sitting on a bench and looking out over the bay, sipping on a beer and enjoying the breeze.  Soon we'd be moving on to the west coast but we had plans to visit a few locations near us.  Alas, that didn't happen due to that pesky illness but we did finally make it over to Cabo Rojo for a long day of adventure.  But more on that next time!

Today I'm grateful for not having food poisoning...hehehe...

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15 June 2016

Support Love (& Get A Tattoo)...



Hi all.  I know by now most everyone has heard about the domestic terrorism and hate crime in Orlando, FL.  It's all we've talked about here at the house.  I'd like to say a million things about it but since I'm too angry and sad to even begin doing so, I'm just going to talk about something going on in Athens that's sending funds directly to those affected by the Pulse tragedy.

Walk The Line tattoo studio is holding a raffle as well as doing flash tattoos for the cheap (but still awesome) with ALL PROCEEDS going directly to the community fund.  Go to their Facebook page to find out more.  This is not a sponsored post (do I even have to type that?) but just a way for me to share a great event from a local venue supported by so much of the community.  I'll be there at noon on June 21st to get a raffle ticket if not a tattoo (cause why not?) so maybe I'll see you?  I'll even hold your hand (or you can hold mine) if you'd like!  Let's send some love from north Georgia down Florida way, shall we?

Not in Athens, GA and want to send a contribution directly to the Pulse Tragedy Community Fund?  Go here.

And don't forget that you can help by voting, protesting, speaking up for equality, researching current politics and more.  Every.  Single.  Damn.  Day.