About Me

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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Its All About the Experience

I started this post months ago and somehow got sidetracked into doing other things. I was scrolling through my post list this morning and remembered starting this but not finishing it and I decided that I'd take a quick chance to put a wrap on this one.

*Seriously - why is this post center aligned?? I cannot get it to right align for anything. I'm super OCD, so that is stressing me out something fierce...but oh well, we move on...apparently only portions will be center aligned. So help me, this is killing me.*

“Book your life choices in advance the same way you would book flights, car rentals, hotels, and excursions. Figure out early on in your career whether you intend to be financially independent or marry a rich man, join the ranks of the professional elite or be the stay-at- home type, postpone having children or find part-time employment. Then fasten your seat belt and sit tight as you watch your trajectory veer off course.” 
 Veronique VienneThe Art of Being a Woman: A Simple Guide to Everyday Love and Laughter

Basically - things in life don't always go as planned. I could write a novel about how life doesn't always turn out the way you expect it to, but since my life is far from done and I'm still trying to figure out where exactly it is going to go...I'll wait on that whole riveting page-turner about how you plan one road and end up down another road completely. One day, just not yet. I can say with certainty that I chose the above quote because when I read it I had to hold back a laugh - because it is too true. My trajectory feels like it has swerved and looped when it should have just stayed in a straight line. Sheesh! All sources seem to point to the idea that even when things don't go as planned, they can often turn out better than you'd originally thought they would. I know from experience that this is true on a smaller scale - certain moments and events have at times seemed like they were on a collision course for disaster but still somehow turned out just fine. Usually it's things like this that; when looking back on the memories in your life, are the memories that stand out in your mind as most dear. I thought I'd just share two times that things did not quite go as planned but when I reflect back on them, I remember both times as dear memories that I'll hold close for a long time.

Ha-ha...but really - too funny.
The great Starbucks adventure of Spring 2012. Really, I know the Pacific Northwest is cold and wet, but seriously guys - it is COLD and WET. I'm good with cold and I can be okay with wet if I need to but the two as a combo isn't really something I'm really down with. Seattle was the last stop on Lindsey and I's big spree across the Pacific Northwest last Spring and when we arrived in Seattle the sun was out in full force; seriously, the glint off the Duwamish River ( you better believe I googled that info; I for sure had no clue what that river was called) was blinding. We were ready for the next day so we could explore Pike's Place Market and see some of Seattle but sadly we were in for a bit of a letdown when we woke up. It was raining. Granted, not raining buckets but still - rain. We are determined travelers though and so we bundled up, tucked our pants into our rain boots and grabbed our umbrellas see what we could see.

Pikes Place Market is amazing – no doubt about it and no matter the type of weather you are in. Almost everything is under some kind of awning or covered walkway, so even though if it is raining, you aren't going to get wet. Not really. It was so remarkable to see the fishmongers tossing their catches through the air with the ease that most people might toss a baseball; I'm sure under those shirts and sweaters they have biceps like you wouldn't believe. The ambiance was amazing. It is something of an assault on the five senses; but in a good way. Your eyes can hardly take in the colors in the fresh produce and flowers, your nose is busy sniffing loose leaf tea, inhaling the scent of cheese being made while you watch, breathing in the smell of a bouquet of tulips that smell as near to perfection as you could imagine and always, there is that smell of the city beyond it all - a little bit grimy, filled with the smell of hundreds of restaurants, people and places crammed into little nooks and crannies.

The best part about it was that because of the rain; the rain that we'd not wanted to see when we woke up that morning, the trip to the first Starbucks ever was that much better. Because what makes you feel even more wonderful on a cold, wet day than something warm to drink? Nothing. Yes, it was crowded - everywhere we went at Pikes Place Market was crowded though. There was that sense of camaraderie with all the people that were waiting with you - because did they really want coffee that bad? No. Did they want to be able to say that they'd gotten coffee from the first Starbucks that bad? Yes. You see - it's an experience and that's what people want. So maybe the rain, cold and gloom weren't ideal. Neither were the long lines and being shoved against some random stranger every once in a while...but, even though the day wasn't sunny and warm, it was a great day. It was a day that I think back on and tell myself, "yep, I'd do that day again - it was a good one." Maybe at the time I wasn't as sure about that as I am now but you know what they say; hindsight is twenty-twenty.

The first Starbucks - established in 1971. 

Get ready to wait - you might have time to memorize the menu. Ha-ha.

Lindsey got a Chai Latte! 

And guess what - I remember what Lindsey got, but not what I got. I'm sure it was great though!

Another experience that didn't really go as planned? The Panic! At the Disco concert that David and I went to way back when. Can I just tell you that we thought we were so hardcore into this music and we were so certain that we would always love Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco (yes, you have to write the name that way) and all these other bands that to be honest I cannot remember the name of now. Obviously, we were committed, right? I discovered that Panic! was coming to Atlanta during the summer and we decided to get in on that immediately. I coerced my Dad into taking us to Atlanta for the night to go to the concert - he always gets weaseled into these things; he's a champ like that. The first sign that things might not go exactly as splendidly as I'd planned in my mind? We looked like such posers when my Dad dropped us off in front of the concert. Seriously - we only thought we were emo (and my spell check really wants that word to be Elmo - we probably were more Elmo than Emo, but oh well). We were really two goofy little white kids that had no clue what we were getting into but as we stood in line, we began to get some idea of it.

We were a little out of our league - these people had tattoos, serious eye make-up and the clothes. Just...wow. Here I was in my jeans and black fancy little top - I'm sure everyone around us thought we were hilarious. Oh well, despite coming to the realization that we were with a totally different breed of people, once the doors opened we rushed, pushed and pulled our way to the perfect spot as close to the stage as we could get. We stayed there for quite a while too - until it became evident about 1/3 of the way into the show that we were not cut out for the mosh pit. When I felt my entire body get lifted off the floor as the whole crowd surged forward, we decided that maybe we'd better move. We fought our way out of the mass of people and found a space on the second floor that overlooked the action - we were much safer and much less sweaty. When I tell you I have never been so nasty in all my life; even years later I can still say that. I was so sweaty when we got out of that pit that someone else's sweaty long hair was wrapped around my arm and slowly relinquished it's hold as David pulled me out of the mass of people in the mosh pit. Can you say gross? One of our favorite things to remember about that night is as we climbed into the car, David asked my Dad if we smelled bad. His response? He said "there's an odor about you." Which caused us to dissolve into hysterics.

So - was it the wild concert experience we thought it would be? Yes and no. I'm sure we didn't figure it would be quite as crazy as it was or we somehow figured that we were more hardcore than we actually were. It is probably some combination of the two. Another interesting part of the trip? Once we got back to the hotel, the pullout bed that David was supposed to sleep on was defective; the whole bottom half just sagged towards the floor - I have a picture of David laying on it all crookedly but I'm quite certain he'd kill me if I posted that for all the world to see, so I won't. No matter though - it may not have been everything we thought it would be, but it was a night to remember. There were times we thought we were going to die, whether by being crushed under the weight of total strangers in the mosh pit or when I tried to stand in a chair and stepped too far back, almost crashing into the floor. I'm pretty sure we also didn't expect to be able to smell ourselves so strongly; not just ourselves but probably the sweat of the other people we'd been crushed against all night. No matter that it didn't really turn out the way we thought it would - it still turned out pretty awesome and when we discuss it now, we always get cracked up thinking about how great it was.

The moral of the story? Just because something isn't going quite the way you planned or imagined it should go doesn't mean it isn't still going to be awesome. Trust me - I have to remind myself this quite often and sometimes little stories like this; stories from when things actually turned out better than I could have planned, they help drive that point home. Hope y'all have a good Friday!

A picture from around the time we went to the concert - Lordy but we were young then.

The Tabernacle - where the concert was held.

Pretty awesome venue, if I do say so myself.

Panic! At the Disco - I used to be able to tell you all their names but now I have no clue. He's Ryan maybe? I know he had on more eye make-up than I've ever worn in my life.

Concert! At one point we were in the midst of this! I'm amazed we didn't die.

The lead singer - I do remember his name is Brendan Urie. And the band is from Summerlin, Nevada. For real.

The moral of the story? Just because something isn't going quite the way you planned or imagined it should go doesn't mean it isn't still going to be awesome. Trust me - I have to remind myself this quite often and sometimes little stories like this; stories from when things actually turned out better than I could have planned, they help drive that point home. Hope y'all have a good Friday!

*And here we go with the center-alignment again! AAAHHH - y'all, it's killing my little OCD heart. Oh well. Sigh - see things don't always turn out as planned.*

Thursday, May 30, 2013

25 Questions

Here we go again - just a little post to pass the time today. I found a post similar to this on another blog I read & so I tweaked it just a bit for mine. Hope you enjoy & hang on...because the weekend is just around the corner...Friday is on the horizon & I; for one, am thrilled.

Sadly - this is pretty darn accurate.

1. What time did you go to bed last night and were you alone? I went to bed last night at heaven only knows when - I was in the bed around 9:30 (yes, I'm basically an old woman) but I read for a while. Once I quit reading I tossed & turned for hours. I know it was sometime after midnight before I finally went to sleep. Ugh. I need more coffee. And yes - totally alone. Unless you count the dog, but he was in his "own" room.
2. If you could be given ANY gift what would it be? Any gift...that is kind of a deep question. I think since this says ANY, I'm going to take the broad view on that. I tend to be extremely worrisome about everything so I think I need the gift of peace of mind. I'm sure on any given day this answer could change dramatically but for right now I'll just say I need peace - about the present & the future. 

3. What was the last film that really moved/disturbed/thrilled you and why?
First of all, I try to avoid films that disturb me but I did watch Behind the Candelabra the other night on HBO. I don't guess it disturbed me but boy, Liberace was an odd cat, that's for sure. Star Trek: Into Darkness thrilled me pretty well; seeing Chris Pine on the big screen is always thrilling, ha-ha. I guess the last movie that moved me was The Great Gatsby because it was heart-breaking to see how much Jay loves Daisy & know how it will all turn out in the end...so I felt moved to shed some tears in that movie. 

4. What is your favorite TV show of all time IE you've seen them all, can watch it over and over again and quote lines from it?
Of all time?? Wow. I've seen all there is to see (thus far) of Bones & it has several very quotable lines. I'll go with Bones. Although I could also say Game of Thrones too because I can quote several lines from that show as well...they just don't usually apply to normal life, ha-ha. So yes, I'll say Bones. And my Mom should easily know the best quote....
5. Whats your favorite way to wake up and whats the first thing you do? My favorite way to wake up is without an alarm clock - no need for all that. I just like to sleep until I wake & the first thing I normally do (when it isn't a work day) is fix a cup of coffee to drink in my chair.
6. What would you call yourself if you could choose your own name? I think I'd call myself Natalie. I think my parents did a pretty good job with picking it & nothing jumps out at me as being any better. 
7. If you had to do a bush-tucker challenge (you have to eat insects/grubs etc) what would be the worst thing you had to eat? Bush-tucker challenge = I'd die of starvation I think. I don't do bugs of any kind & I certainly don't do them going into my mouth. 
8. Whats the worst/most embarrassing CD/Album you've ever owned and do you still have it? I have no clue - maybe something like O-Town? I guess that's a really embarrassing CD to admit you've got in your collection & I'm sure it is still around somewhere or other...
9. What would be your dream vehicle (bikes, cars, boats, batcar and millennium falcon is allowed!)? First, I love that the Millennium Falcon is an option. Could I get that with a pilot; say Han Solo? I'm really not too overly excited by vehicles of any sort but right now my car is in pretty rough shape so it would be a dream to me to just have a semi-new car. 
10. Whats your favorite fantasy people sandwich? I didn't make these questions up, so I don't know what this entails entirely - I'm going to wager a guess that this is two people you wouldn't mind being stuck with... So, maybe I'll pick Clark Kent/Superman & Iron Man. That's brains, brawn & beauty all at once. Sounds good.
11. What characteristics do you dislike in yourself? I tend to worry too much. I'm sure there are other things but I'd rather not turn my own blog into me picking apart the less than desirable aspects of my personality.
12. Your favorite item of clothing and why? My favorite item of clothing...are shoes considered clothing? Probably not because they're shoes. I like dresses of all sorts; especially maxi dresses.
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be and who would it be with? I'll just say the whole world. I want to see it all. So give me a starting place & I'll get to work seeing everything there is to see.
14. If you could have any animal/creature, What would be your ultimate pet be? Ooh - a large cat of sorts; perhaps a panther? I think they are pretty cool & they'd certainly keep people from messing with you. But wait...ooh, it says animal or creature. I'll take a direwolf. What is a direwolf? Please see image below.

It's a giant wolf. Seriously. The sigil (that's basically another word for symbol) of House Stark in Game of Thrones. I need one of these....although I think Watson likes to think he is one.

15. What did you want to be when you were little and do you think you ever will be? I'm pretty sure when I was little I wanted to be Belle from Beauty & the Beast. That is going to be a hard feat to accomplish but I think I've nailed certain parts of it. I tend to spend lots of time with my nose in a book & my head in the clouds, so I've got that portion pretty covered. Now I need a house with a gigantic library & a ravishing prince who was once an animal. One of those is easier than the other to obtain. I think. Although at 28 I'm beginning to think they're both pretty hard to obtain. *sigh* Where's a book....

16. Whats the next planned event you're looking to in your life?
My family is coming to visit me June 14th through the 17th & I'm pretty crazy excited about that. 
17. What were you doing before you started this? Working on claims at the office.
18. What was the last thing you ate that you really shouldn't have? Um...I don't know. Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that chocolate chip cookie I ate last night, but it was small & life goes on. What I really probably shouldn't have eaten was any cupcake from Gigi's that I've ever eaten. I swear just looking at one of those makes you gain 10 pounds.
19. If you were an ice cream flavor what would you be? I'd be vanilla. Which some people would say is boring but I disagree. Vanilla is wonderful & probably my favorite type of ice cream. Unless they invented Red Velvet Cake ice cream; maybe I'd be that.
20. Who was the last person you spoke to that you didn't want to talk to? Where should I start the list? Hmmm... I'd better not name any names. Suffice it to say it happens daily & I'd rather it not.
21. What was your favorite toy as a child  . . .and now? My favorite toy as a child was a Disney parks train play set that I got for Christmas when I was about 3 or 4. Now my favorite "toy" is probably my iPhone or my tablet.

This is it! I found a picture of it. Seriously - this toy was amazing.

22. When was the last time you cried laughing and why? The last time I cried laughing was when my sister was in town a couple weekends ago & she recreated our old forts over the air vent with blankets. I was in tears laughing at her & she was cracking up pretty good herself.
23. What is stashed under your bed/mattress? There is nothing under my mattress but there are boxes under my bed that contain old letters from high school; letters from friends in one box & letters/mementos from guys in another box.
24. What did you dream about last night? I don't remember dreaming about a single thing once I finally fell asleep.
25. What are you really afraid of? I'm really afraid of going through life alone. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

It Was a Long Week

Today I get the joy of blogging from my own desk, in my own home, drinking my coffee and listening to the music I like. The past week didn't really fly by - once Wednesday afternoon made itself known, the rest of the work week just dragged. Having today off makes me hope that this day drags by; each hour of freedom is precious. That being said, let me get this post written so I can cuddle with my dog and enjoy my day off.

A sure sign that summer has come to MS - although as I write this it is only about 70 outside. 

I mean - why not take a chance?
A co-worker went to the beach last weekend and told us that she'd buy anyone who wanted a Power Ball ticket. I'm not exactly rolling in the cash but I managed to dig around and find $3 to get one ticket. While my co-worker said she was feeling lucky; (and bought more than one ticket) I just thought it'd be funny to give it a shot and say I'd at least tried for my chance at that mega millions amount of money. Needless to say, I didn't win. If I had, y'all would have known long before now. I guess it was fun to try though, right?

The attack dog is gone for good - so now he can get back to his front porch sitting. 

One of my photo a day pictures was meant to be a book. This is a very pretty book ...that I'm almost done with.

I made banana bread on Tuesday night. It was pretty delicious if I do say so myself.
Wednesday, as I mentioned earlier - it was pretty rough. I don't know that I've made it a secret or not but I don't have the easiest time of it at my job. I suppose I shouldn't really elaborate too much on why; you're not really meant to talk negatively about work experiences because it reflects poorly on you if someone else is looking to hire you - isn't that right? I could just ask you that if you're reading this - please pray for me. In relation to the job I currently I have. Since elaborating on that isn't really the best idea, just know that many tears have been shed and I'd ask for you to lift me up in relation to that specific thing. Thanks. :)

Wednesday wasn't a total loss though - oh no. After telling a dear friend about the rough work day that I'd had, she invited me to join her for something she knew would end my day on a high note. You see, she had just welcomed her first grand baby a day earlier and she invited me to come with her to see him. It certainly did end my day on a much happier note; there is just something about holding such a precious little baby and knowing how wonderful, perfect and full of potential they are. Plus - I'm pretty sure a new baby is cuter than a barrel of puppies and kittens.
Meeting Micah - such a precious little boy.

The new Grandma & her grandson - she will be called Lula. It's Filipino for Grandma.

A thumb sucker perhaps?

A magnolia outside the office on Thursday morning, through the rain on my windshield.

I discovered my dog has a little heart shaped bit of fur on his tail. I always knew he was special - I think this just pretty much confirms it. 
I love red velvet cake, red velvet cupcakes - if it it red velvet, I love it. A few weeks ago one of my co-workers found the Pop-Tarts that you see below. As you can see, they are Limited Edition. Well I managed to snag a box from Wal Mart but ever since I've not been able to find them anywhere. I figured that I'd caught on to them too late and they were over and done. That same co-worker found about 8 boxes at Wal Mart during the past week and on Thursday when I came to my desk, I had two boxes waiting on me. I'm telling you people - it's little things like this that make a person's day. And those Pop-Tarts are amazing. I think I need to hoard the last box...

A sweet surprise. Literally & figuratively. 

A little thief. I try to cook & he comes to the kitchen to try & see what he can steal.

Google's search page for the weekend - I love it. And I remember doing just this very thing.

Friday morning sunshine from my bed...if only I could have stayed there.

I've decided I want a Magnolia tree. They look great & smell divine.

Homemade mac & cheese for supper on Thursday - it isn't called comfort food for nothing.

I may have a slight Pop Tart addiction. 
On Friday, another co-worker brought me a food related surprise. Her husband's family has a deli in Union Station in downtown Meridian and based on the few things I've tasted so far, I'd recommend going to eat there. I told her earlier in the week that I'd never tasted Pimento & Cheese but I guessed I'd have to get some at the store. She didn't want my first try to be store bought, so when she came back from lunch on Friday, she plopped me down a little container of the homemade stuff with some crackers. And y'all, it was delicious. I ate a little bit on some crackers there at the office for an afternoon snack and then took the rest home to make a grilled cheese. I've added another thing to the ever growing list of things I like to eat. :)

Trying new foods - that could have been a theme for my weekend.

This mega sunbeam in my living room on Friday evening. So awesome.

My beautiful little sister and her date to Ring Dance - it's a big deal y'all. I'm so proud of her. 

Ha-ha, I love that Game of Thrones almost always makes the best quotes of the week page in Entertainment Weekly. Cersei doesn't play. I need a little bit of Cersei's attitude some days.
I trekked (ha-ha, pun completely intended) myself off to the movies on Saturday afternoon to see Star Trek: Into Darkness. I've got all these movies that I want to see this summer and if I don't just go on my own, I'm not going to get to see them. So while every once in a while I get a little sad/weird about going to the movies alone, once the lights go down and the movie starts, I really could care less. I'm too involved in what is going on up on the big screen. The movie was great; better than the first one that came out in 2009 (although that one was good too). The villain stole the show completely - just like all the reviews said he would. Benedict Cumberbatch is the man y'all - but I guess when your parents saddle you with a name like that, you've got to be pretty hardcore, right? Seriously...what a name. Also, Chris Pine on a giant screen is never a bad thing and Zachary Quinto isn't hard to look at either...although with Spock ears and those goofy eyebrows...well, yep. Oh well.

I should mention I was the only girl in a theatre of guys. Guys of varying levels of nerdiness. Which is totally cool - because I'm a nerd too. As I was leaving the theatre one of them just kind of stared at me all slack jawed. I'm not sure if he was dumbfounded by the end of the movie or because of a girl by herself in Star Trek...but I didn't really care. I just smiled at him and kept on walking. Ha-ha.

Great movie - loved it.

This pup is a porch sitting fool. I love it.

Have you ever seen anything so cute? He tickles me.

Saturday night reading in the bed...so nice.

Sunday lunch courtesy of Nanny - pork ribs, fresh garden peas and rice. Yum!

Of course, Watson immediately puts on his game face to beg.

I gave him a small bite of pork. Which he loved.
Earlier in the week, my Uncle called and invited me to a craw fish boil on Sunday afternoon. I've never been to a craw fish boil and I've certainly never eaten craw fish but since there is a first time for everything, I said sure and on Sunday afternoon I headed out. It was nice to spend time sitting around with my family, talking and catching up. The food was good too - although I'm not sure how I feel about craw fish. It was alright but I don't know if I can get into eating something that still looks so very much like it could just crawl right off your plate at any time. I was definitely most tickled by my cousin's daughter who is only 5 but was tearing into the craw fish like nobodies business. I had fun for sure and was glad to get to spend some time with family.

Poor wiggly little suckers - they had no clue.

Relaxing on the car port with Harley.

My cousin Jessica's new puppy, Reesie. So sweet and teeny.

Into the boiler they go...look out craw fish!

This lucky guy got to be my first taste. And...eh. It wasn't awful. :)

Kyndel announced that she wasn't going to eat any - but then sat there beside me chowing down like a champ. What a goofball.

Selfie of me and my craw fish pal. Ha-ha.
I ended my evening with a little church time and a movie once I got home. And now that I've written all about the past week, I guess I should get started on this week. The treadmill is staring at me from the corner of the room and I know the sooner I get on it, the sooner I'll be done. I covet your prayers for a better work week than the last and I hope that you have a good last week of May.

The last hymn in the hymnal - couldn't they have found/written one more song???

Good-bye to another week.