Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I'll never forget 2013. One year ago, I was still working for a Congressman, was significantly less acquainted with Paris and my writing abilities, was without any dreams of Kilimanjaro or Africa, and not very happy about life in general.

It has been quite a ride, but I'm ready to put this year in the books. It's amazing what life throws at you, and I'm ready for whatever ringers I'll be put through in 2014. Here are a few of my (hopefully) attainable resolutions for the new year:

1. Summit Kilimanjaro.

2. Not die on Kilimanjaro (equally as important as number 1).

3. Spend more time journaling and dedicate more time to writing. I've let it fall by the wayside these past few months, and I'm not happy about it. 

4. Keep up the exercise routine I learned while training for Kili. 

5. Figure out what career path I want to take next. Or at least narrow it down to an industry.

6. Appreciate how amazing life is, even though I am perpetually uncertain of what my future will be. 

I still feel like somewhat of a wanderer during this mid-twenties sabbatical. But while I'm unsure of many things, I learned so much about myself this year. I guess you could say I'm continuing to "find myself," but I've never really liked that phrase. It implies that at some point you are finished exploring and growing, and I don't believe we ever are. It's all about the journey, and mine is just beginning.

Have a Happy New Year!!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Thrill of Hope

My favorite view. And Santa came!

I always love Christmas. If you couldn't tell that from my recent (first!) published article, I'm happy to reiterate. The music, the movies, the fire, the tree, the food, the family...all come together to make my favorite holiday. This year, we traveled to South Lake to be with my mom's family last weekend, and were back in time for a Taliaferro Christmas on Wednesday morning.

My favorite gift was definitely my Anthropologie house shoes, which I pretty much haven't taken off since yesterday morning. My other favorite gift was being able to sit around the fireplace with my parents and my brothers and talk and laugh and drink white cranberry mimosas (white cranberry juice, Prosecco and frozen cranberries!)

Christmas Eve shenans.

While presents and christmas carols flow throughout the season, I try my best to remember the reason for the season, and give thanks for Jesus' birth and his coming to Earth. My faith has been tested this year in many ways, but I continuously hold on to it, gathering strength from it when I'm at my weakest. For that I'm grateful.

Now I'm off to run three miles with my brother as I pick up my training for Kilimanjaro. Stay tuned the next couple of weeks for my updates on buying gear, training, planning my 2-day layover in London, training, and more training.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and have a Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

...and then I decided to climb my first mountain.

I was five years old when I first heard of Mount Kilimanjaro. My dad climbed it when he and my mom went to East Africa to visit my grandparents, who were missionaries at the time. Ever since then, it has always been a distant idea, almost a figment of my imagination. It was a place so far away from my life that even if I thought of the tallest peak on the continent, it seemed more like a dream than a real place.

Then, a few weeks ago, I heard from a family friend that some women were going to climb Kilimanjaro to celebrate one of their birthdays in late February 2014. I was so inexplicably excited about it that she asked me if I wanted to join them.

And I did. I really, really did.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is something I am now desperate to do, for reasons not entirely known to me. Much planning and training is involved, but everything I read says that it is a life-changing experience. So I am going to climb Kili with only a couple months left to train, no previous knowledge of mountain climbing, almost no experience with altitude (Abilene is only at 1700 ft.), and a pretty nasty (delicious) wine habit.

I am so excited to see how I fare as I trek toward the roof of Africa. Every struggle between now and then will be worth it, and every exercise will make me stronger for arguably the hardest thing I've ever done, mentally and physically. When I'm standing on top of that glorious mountain, holding a Texas flag that my dad is definitely going to want me to carry, those worries and work outs will be things of the past.

I can't wait to share my preparations for the trip and then the climb itself. So much of this thing called "life" is better when it's shared, and to be honest, I'm going to need some support during this next little bit as I reach for that summit. I hope you'll stay tuned, this could get interesting..

Friday, December 6, 2013

Moral of the Story: Snow Day Edition

Today is a snow day in Abilene. Most everyone is inside (except those who enjoy sledding behind a 4WD car on the white, icy roads) and the only place I plan to go is to the grocery store to get items for baking a pie or cookies or something. Even that errand is a maybe. Perhaps I'll be productive later in the day, but for now, I'm going to share some things I've learned in the past few weeks.

1. Don't judge a TV show by its, err, synopsis? I've been watching Call the Midwife with my roommate, and I'm pretty sure it's my new favorite British drama. (Haahhahah, jk jk, Downton Abbey is on January 5th and I've missed everyone so much and I wish I could hug Mary and Branson and make everything right in their world, and also pet Isis, also sorry, this was not meant to be about Downton!) It follows a group of midwives in the East End of London in the 1950s, and each show is more dramatic than the last. If you can get past all the birthing scenes, it's really pretty entertaining, with love interests and drama that could rival the most intense Grey's Anatomy episodes. Even the nuns they live and work with have some spicy plot lines now and then. Since I always love a good medical drama, Call the Midwife is just my cup of tea.

2. I wish candles would last forever. I bought an Illume candle at the store where I work the other week (Surprises on S. 14th, if you feel so inclined to drop by), and it's already almost halfway gone! It's a fantastic pumpkin scent that makes my room smell like fall. I guess I'll just have to move on and buy a Christmas candle...

3. Mindy Kaling is still one of my favorite people on TV. And I really hope this is the title of an episode of the Mindy Project coming soon, because it may actually be the best title ever.

4. I have an exciting trip coming up that I'll talk about--probably at ad nauseam--soon, but it requires a stay-over in London. The moral here is that I miss that enchanting city and the semester I spent there in 2009. If you can afford to go, both financially and in terms of your graduation timeline, going abroad is the best thing you can do when you're in college, and I recommend it to everyone. Not only do you learn about another culture, but you realize how much bigger the world is than the town you grew up in, or your college campus, or even your state. You live and bond with people whom you would have never met otherwise, and forge lifelong friendships and relationships that may be the most meaningful of your life. For me, I discovered a lot about myself in a small flat in Islington, and on chilled walks through Hyde Park, and in jaunts through Borough Market under London Bridge. Places I had never even heard of before were my temporary home, and "out of my comfort zone" was no longer scary.

I once read that travel is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer, and I couldn't agree more.

Those clouds. 

Have a warm, wonderful weekend!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Happenings

Cranberry Old Fashioned I made before Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious but so, so strong.

My Thanksgiving was filled with love, laughter and, well, lots of wine. Seriously though, it was a drinking marathon and I'm exhausted. Not as young as I once was, I suppose. The only sad thing was that on Thanksgiving morning, we had to put my dog, Suzie, down. It was sad and I shed a tear or two, but I was trying to be thankful for her 17 years, and remember the early days when she wasn't quite so blind and deaf and running into walls.

On the upside, I spent the long weekend with friends and family that came in from all over, and I caught up with so many people that I love.

Bonus: Leftovers.

Mmmmmm. Rolls.

Beautiful table.

My brother giving us a concert.

A stop at Bill's Burgers on Saturday because we apparently hadn't had enough to eat.

Cotillion with the fam. It was so fun this year!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! Now on to the most wonderful time of the year!

PS. Bye bye, Tussy.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend Happenings: Catching Fire, Cooking, and Friendsgiving

This weekend was freezing and raining, and I spent as much time as I could inside with warm food and toddies. On Friday, my roommate and I went to see Catching Fire, and ohmygoodness it was so incredible I wanted to faint. I love the books, and the second one was my absolute favorite so I was so happy the movie stayed true to the book. I could talk about the Hunger Games for days, and have, not only because it's a great story, but it also reminds me of my book club back in DC. The Hunger Games books were our first few reads, and we are all obsessed. (I miss those girls!)

On Saturday, the freezing rain continued. Since the roads were really bad, I didn't go to work. After drinking coffee and reading until well into the afternoon, I slowly and carefully made my way over to my parents' house to help my mom cook and bake for Thanksgiving. I also made a pumpkin pie for our friendsgiving on Sunday night, my first baking experience, and I have to say it turned out rather deliciously.
An incredible broccoli soup while catching up on the new Anthro catalogue; my first pie, and my lovely kitchen companion.

It was so warm and cozy in my mom's kitchen and I was thrilled to learn some new skills.  Not to mention we got a jumpstart on all the Thanksgiving cooking.

After a few glasses of pinot and then an excursion to get Mexican food, I decided to stay the night rather than drive all the way across town. So I caught up on some shows and then turned in for the evening.

I paused to get more wine, and look where it landed...couldn't resist.

On Sunday, I spent the morning in front of the fire with my parents and the paper. My mom and I tackled a few more things in the kitchen, then it was time for me to depart. I took the pumpkin pie, drove a few streets over, and proceeded to have my first ever friendsgiving. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by having it twice??

The girls (and Thunderhorse)

I am ecstatic for this week, as my family comes to town to celebrate, and couldn't ask for a better weekend to ease into the holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

99 Problems but a Turkey Ain't One.

Today is the first freeze of the year. It started sleeting a little this morning, and it's 28 degrees outside. Sitting on my couch, I'm watching ice flurries blanket our street while drinking a hot cup of coffee. Ahhhh.

You see a dead tree. I see glorious winter approaching.

Not only that, but it's less than a week until Thanksgiving! It's one of my favorite holidays because it involves three of my favorite things in the world: family, copious amounts of food, and lazy afternoons. And also being thankful for all the blessings in my life, blah blah. But also PUMPKIN PIE.

As the holiday approaches, however, I'm having some issues. This year, my parents are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at their house, something they haven't done in years. My mom is making a few dishes, my grandmother a few, and my aunt a few. Everything seemed pretty much covered. But since this is my first year or so of being actually into cooking, I wanted to bring something to the table, literally and figuratively.

Two problems, though: 1. My only day off from work in the next week is on Sunday (and then Thursday, of course), and 2. I'm attending a "friendsgiving" on Sunday night and will probably be spending the day in the kitchen making something for that. I had neither the time nor the brilliant idea to impress everyone at the dinner table with my incredible (maybe?) skills in the kitchen.

Then, yesterday on Cupcakes and Cashmere, Emily talked about making a special variation of an old fashioned for Thanksgiving. A lightbulb suddenly switched on in my head. Cocktails! Of course! Done and done. I've decided to copy her (I'm not quite as original as she is in the kitchen or the bar) and make that my contribution to the day. I hope my family likes whiskey. Wait, who am I kidding?

I can't wait to pour a few drinks, relax, and dine on sweet potato casserole, turkey and stuffing. Now if only I could figure out how to get some extra rolls onto my plate without anyone noticing...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mimosas and Memories in Palm Springs

There are few things better than driving down highway 111 with the windows down. With a temp of about 75 and not a cloud in sight, the cool breeze flowing through the car is both relaxing and invigorating. The sun on my arm and face usually burns, but I never mind. The wind blows my hair in my eyes, but I don't move it. The trick is to keep both front windows rolled down about half-way so that the cross breeze will reach you in the drivers' seat. Being alone on this drive can only be beat by having a great friend in the passenger seat. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start here:

Last Thursday, I flew out to California to visit Palm Springs for a few days. My parents had already been there for a week, and I was happy to catch the tail end of their trip. Not only that, but one of my favorite DC friends, Beth, was coming out for the weekend! The last time we went, United Airlines screwed Beth oh so badly, erm, flight-wise, and they gave her a free flight. What better place to go than Southern California for the weekend? Most of my weekends in Palm Springs (and generally on vacation) revolve around food, wine and great conversation. I felt this weekend would be no different.

After my arrival and a quick lunch on Thursday, my parents and I played 9 holes of golf. I didn't play that great, but I also hadn't played in months, so I'm using that as my excuse. Also, a bee decided to be a total asshole on the fourth hole and STUNG ME. I have never been stung by anything, and it hurt, Charlie. Luckily, there was wine at the condo and I was able to nurse myself back to health that night.

9th hole. I should have gotten out of the cart, but I was still traumatized by the bee sting.
Beth didn't arrive until Friday night and my parents were in a golf tournament all day Friday, so I wondered around downtown Palm Springs, ate lunch at Trio's Restaurant, whose fish tacos were incredible, and then went back and swam in the pool until it was time to head to the airport. Beth and I went to dinner at a place called 3rd Corner, which is a wine shop and restaurant. They let you walk through the wine displays and pick your own bottles. We chose a cabernet and a pinot noir, since they said anything we don't drink they'd cork and we could take home. Music to our ears. We dined on pasta and drank our wine, catching up and talking about my olden times in DC.

Bar art at Trio's made from children's toys. I was very amused.
The rest of the weekend was spent much the same as our dinner at 3rd corner, eating, drinking and talking. On Saturday, we went back into Palm Springs to walk around and eat brunch at a place called Cheeky's. This place has a bacon flight that we really wanted to try. That's right. Bacon. Flight. It was as delicious as only bacon can be. We walked around and visited a few small museums, then headed back for a dip in the pool and hot tub before dinner with my parents.

Dessert Meat.

Museum displaying the contents of an old general store. This was the pharmacy section. Entry fee: 95 cents. No joke.

A 50-foot Marilyn Monroe in Downtown Palm Springs

On Sunday, we saw some family friends, drank some more, swam some more, and found a hole-in-the-wall Italian place for a yummy last supper. Washing the weekend down with mimosas on Monday morning, all four of us reluctantly headed to the airport to go back to our lives. I'm always sad to leave California, but I'm so happy I was able to hang out with Beth and enjoy the sunshine before the winter to come. When it gets too cold in Abilene, I'll just have to think of that drive down 111.

Paper placemats = great food.

Red wine as the sun went down. Basically heaven.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Moral of the Story: TV Junkie Turned History Buff...?

I've been running around like a madwoman lately. I work Saturdays, which cuts my weekend in half forcing me to run errands at night when all I want to do is lie on the couch and watch Hell on Wheels (I'll get to that in a sec). That being said, I'm really liking the job. It's a nice change of pace from before, where my only job was sitting at home and drinking copious amounts of coffee in front of my computer. Even though I was job searching, it was boring. Here are a few things I've learned in the past few weeks while working my weekends away:

1. I am a history enthusiast, by way of a television junkie -- I started the show Hell on Wheels a couple weeks ago and am almost finished with the third season. We all know my penchant for really great television, so I'm thrilled I found another show after Breaking Bad. For those who don't watch it, it's set in the 1860s after the Civil War when Union Pacific was building the transcontinental railroad West. 
Last night over a fire pit with some friends, we were talking about how sometimes we wish we lived in different times. I would have loved to have been out West in the late 19th century. I mean, okay, probably not really, because I seriously doubt I could live without modern conveniences. But, think about it, you'd be taking part in creating a new region in America: you'd be on a piece of land all your own, or a shop owner in some new town, or become the head of a railroad endeavor and marry someone like Cullen Bohannan (talk about ruggedly handsome). Maybe Marty will let me borrow the DeLorean for a quick trip just so I can see what it was like, and then 1.21-jigawatt-it on back to 2013. That would make my life.

I mean... 

2. I'm really, really sad that I live in a world where people like Pink and Honey Boo Boo are successful -- Pink might be my bias, but I really cannot stand her music. It doesn't help that Abilene stations play her stuff Non. Stop. and it makes me want to pull my hair out. Honey Boo Boo, on the other hand, could be seen as more of a commentary on where our society is likely going, and that's really depressing. If this spoiled little brat with ADD and serious therapy bills coming her way in 20 years is entertainment, I must be missing the point. What is so appealing about her? If someone knows please tell me because I seriously don't get it.

3. I'm okay with my major relationships in life right now being with liquid -- Coffee in the morning, Diet Coke in the afternoon with Water in between, Wine at night, Beer when I'm sitting around the fire referenced in number 1.

A recent find with a cute label.

4. Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut -- some great advice from my dad years ago, but I tend to forget it sometimes. No matter how many times I put my foot right in my mouth and vow to never do it again, I somehow always do. Ughh.

5. Sometimes a food truck is all you need to feel right with the world -- Oh, Happy late Halloween by the way. Wednesday was the Trick-or-Treating night in my parents' neighborhood, and although my mom was out of town and my dad and I had both forgotten to pick up candy, I heard there was going to be a food truck at the neighborhood park--get in my belly. Gypsy Blu belongs to the guy who used to have Bonterra Blu in Clyde, TX, but they closed recently and only do the food truck and catering. Their food is incredible, and I really wish the truck would come around more often, like the UPS guy when you're waiting for a package. I scarfed down some lamb tacos and maybe the best mac and cheese ever, all while catching up with other neighborhood dwellers and watching the sun go down. Although I didn't dress up, it was a wonderful Halloween that passed in the blink of an eye. My next holiday celebration? Bonfire night, the 5th of November. Maybe I can get the food truck to make another appearance.

*photo source.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Market Research

To your right is a white cowboy hat, worn by a guy entirely too skinny for his own good. To your left is a dance floor where two-stepping is the only acceptable form of dancing besides grinding. In your hand is a plastic cup of well gin, soda (even though you asked for tonic) and a lemon because they've been out of limes for hours. It smells faintly of pine sol, cigarettes, and college. You may be sitting in the disco-balled darkness with friends and people you love, but you've already seen about seven people with whom you went to high school and you hoped never to see again, or forgot they existed entirely.

This is not a bad dream, your high school reunion or an old friend's wedding. This, my friends, is a glimpse into the elusive concept that is the Abilene bar scene. A scene where class is often replaced with rambunctiousness, and I had to learn the hard way that red wine at an Abilene bar is a mistake.

Now, I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of every bar in Abilene, but I have had my share of nights painting the town. In my opinion, there are only five bars you need to know about if you find yourself in Abilene on a Saturday night.

1. Fat Boss's -- The kid brother to the other Abilene bars, this relatively new place used to be an old bakery. The bartenders always remember my drink, which is a plus (but also kinda sad?), and the waitress comes to your table, allowing you to avoid the thirty-second shuffle to the bar and then the ten-minute awkward wait for the bartender's attention. Like most Abilene bars, Fat Boss's closes at midnight on Friday, but somehow it always feels much later. Maybe I'm just ready to run away from the stares of either creepy older men my dad's age or guys with piercings and muscles they're all too happy to show off.

This is how new Fat Boss's is: this is the only photo I've taken there.

2. The Beehive -- This is actually a restaurant, but their bar has a kick-ass long island iced tea served in a mason jar. Just one of those babies and I don't need to spend another dime all night...but letsbereal I probably will. Dark lighting barely lets you see the dollar bills pinned to the wall by customers. The Beehive is another place where you'll see people you haven't thought of in years, but these people are most likely either your parents' friends or that one guy you had a crush on in high school, but he was a senior and you were a freshman and 3/4 of the way through that long island you kind of half-wave to him only to realize he is waving at the person behind you. So yeah...that kind of bar.

3. Bar 14 -- The one bar that I would agree to go out to on weekdays because it was a stone's throw away from my house. They have open mic night on Wednesday nights and live music Fridays and Saturdays, so this is a great place to go if you don't really need or want to partake in conversation. But there is a back porch (because of course there is) where you can play Giant Jenga and share a massive picnic table with your amigos. I heard a few months back that it was going to close, so I had my birthday celebration there, but I think I heard wrong because Bar 14 is still blowing and going, which I can personally attest to after the last few weekends.

4. Firehouse -- Firehouse would probably be my favorite bar in Abilene if it were in a better location. To quote Ja'mie King: "Sorry, no offense, but it's true." Not that I don't love a good south Butternut St. location, but they're right next to a bunch of warehouses that makes my imagination run wild, which is not a good thing when it comes to dark, scary places. However, once you're inside the bar, it's always a good time. When my anger subsides from paying a $5 cover (which is most likely a safety precaution), there's always a pretty fun band, a dance floor, pool tables and yet another back porch where my friends and I usually spend all our time. One year over Thanksgiving break, I went one night and literally saw every single person I know and love in Abilene. Fond memories of Firehouse are reemerging now, but this post is already too long and I need to get on with it.

5. Guitars and Cadillacs -- Saved the best for last. I have a love/hate relationship with "guitars," because, as you could tell in the intro, there are some things that you must wrap your mind around when you first walk in. It's really more of a spectacle than a bar. When I told/tell my East Coast friends that this place exists, I think they think I'm making it up. Oh my, if only I were. The dance floor is huge and the DJ alternates between country and bump and grind rap. I think the bartenders really do believe tonic water and soda water are the same thing, and you have to side step a white stetson or two every couple of minutes. I have to be in the mood for guitars, which is not very common. But when I do, I'm always entertained and amazed that our society breeds some of the people I see there.

You can decide for yourself if/when you go.

So there you have it, my thoughts on the only bars you need to know about in our lovely little town. Despite all the weirdness I've described here, I've had some of the best nights out at these bars and probably wouldn't change a thing even if I could. No, we cannot rival bars in New York or DC or Dallas, but that's what gives our little scene its own flavor, and I'm partial to that West Texas variety.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I missed Paris Workshop so much that I created my own in Abilene

I realized this morning that I hadn't written anything, besides a blog post here and there, in, like, four freaking weeks. This made me incredibly sad, and I know my professors in Paris would be disappointed. They taught us how to live like writers, and here I am, not putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard in almost a month. I so cherished my discipline when I first got back, but lost it in the midst of job searching, moving and a propensity to sleep late.

I decided today that, at this point in my life, the only way to stick to a writing routine is to have some accountability. So I started a Meet Up group for writers in Abilene to share their work and get tips from other writers in the community. All levels are welcome, especially beginners, obvi, because that's what I am.

I'm nervous and it's scary because what if no one shows up? But you know what? If that happens, the worst outcome is me sitting in a coffee shop with my laptop, a situation I have been in many times before. (Also because Abilene is safe and no one is going to try to kidnap me, right? Right??!)

So get out there and tell your Abilene friends who love to read, write, and drink coffee!!

PS. Even if you don't like writing and are just really good at editing, that's totally fine and I'll welcome you with open arms.

PPS. I mean, since I was already reminiscing a little bit...

Outdoor writing session in Luxembourg Gardens. *sigh*

And our favorite spot to write inside, Cafe Universel. Also, Amanda clearly loves writing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekend Non-Happenings

Sunday fun day is right. Yesterday, I spent a wonderful day doing absolutely nothing that I had to do -- which is sometimes the most fulfilling kind of day. After working long days Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I was ready for some down time. Here are a few things I did or didn't do that add up to a wonderful Sunday in my new house.

1. At my brother's request, I went to see Captain Phillips. My brother and I usually have the same taste in movies, and getting a recommendation from him is basically a guarantee that I will like it. And I did. Tom Hanks was incredible, and the filmmakers outdid themselves. I did notice a lack of Chekov's gun at the end of the film, something to do with keys, but since it's based on non-fiction they couldn't really rewrite history. Other than that, it was an unbelievably moving film, and Tom Hanks should probably be nominated for another Oscar.

2. I didn't make my bed. I actually have to fight the urge just a smidge, because I usually feel like I can't start the day until it's made. But today, I just left it. Maybe the possibility of taking a nap at any possible moment makes me slow down and relax just a little bit more. 

3. One word: burritos. I went to La Popular for breakfast yesterday morning with a couple of similarly hungover people, and it was delightful. Bonus: I went to one of their locations that I had never been to before, and they sell coke in a bottle. It was divine.

4. Yesterday afternoon, I sat on the porch in my new (to me) house and watched the rain while I finished my book. 

5. I'm re-watching the fourth season of Parks and Rec and I couldn't be happier, or more confident that I want to be Leslie Knope when I grow up.

Not only all of this, but I made some new friends and had a wonderful night out on the town Saturday night. One of about a thousand that I know will round out my life here in Abilene. Here's to many more Sundays like this.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Music is what feelings sound like."

I'm about to go all fangirl over here, so just prepare yourself.

I just can't with all this cuteness right now.

In June, the Mumford and Sons concert in Dallas was cancelled due to a medical issue with one of their band members (Read about my emotional heartbreak due to this turn of events here). It was rescheduled for a few Wednesdays ago, September 18th. After a very last minute offer of the tickets from my friend Sandi who generously invited me the first time and couldn't go this time, I found myself driving to Dallas on a hot Wednesday morning to meet my cousin for the dance and sing along party concert.

I first heard Mummies and Sonnies (h/t to Beth Breeding for coming up with that nickname) on a short-lived series on Fox called "Lone Star." While the show struggled and was eventually cancelled after only a few episodes, I remember the entire pilot had all these songs in it. The first one--I found out the name later--was "The Cave," then "Awake My Soul" and a few others mixed between. They all sounded like the same singer, and each one was so beautiful that I needed them immediately in my life. Trusty Google told me a tale of these English guys (I was already on board) who called themselves Mumford and Sons. I began to listen, and our love story began. 

Three years later, I am on the green and slightly littered lawn of the Gexa Energy Pavilion in downtown Dallas. Once again, their music lifts my spirits and affects me in a way that no other music has.

And yes, I realize I am obsessed. My parents have started saying, "no more Mumford and Sons" when it's my turn to pick the music. I guess they're not as enamored as I am.

After the concert, my cousin and I went to one of her favorite bars in Denton. A friend of hers asked me, "what's your favorite band?" The answer was almost too easy.

This weekend, I'm moving to a new house, working, and doing some coffee drinking and book reading. All with Mumford and Sons' latest CD playing in the background, of course.

Have a great weekend!

Ps. If you haven't  seen a documentary called "The Big Easy Express," pull it up on Netflix NOW. Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford and Sons and Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros on a train to New Orleans. It'll pretty much change your world.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Good, and New Beginnings

Fall is easily my favorite season, a season for change and new beginnings, where the mornings are cool and the air is crisp. As Joe Fox says in You've Got Mail: "It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name." I know exactly how he feels.

Although still reeling from clutching the remote too tightly and crying into my Hot-n-Ready pizza last night, I think I'm strong enough now to talk about the ending of Breaking Bad. It was gut-wrenching. (Lots of SPOILER ALERTS ahead. Beware.) 

Goodbye Breaking Bad

Vince Gilligan is an evil genius, and although I jumped on the bandwagon a little late (I'm in the process of catching up), his writing is overwhelmingly heartfelt and the story ended so beautifully. It's almost poetic what that show did; it made us care about a kingpin drug dealer and sympathize with criminals. I loved everything about it, and I can't say that about very many shows or movies. I love that Jesse is free in every sense of the word. I love that Walt will take the blame for making the meth as the cops find him dead in the lab. I love that his family will get his money. I love that Elliot and Gretchen will have to look over their shoulder for the rest of their lives, even though no one is there. I love that Walt got to say goodbye to Skyler, that he got to see his kids one more time. I love that Hank's body will be found.

Most of all, I love that we finally, truly get to see who Walt is. He is no longer hiding behind the facade of his own lie, that he "did it for the family." He finally admits, after five seasons, that it was all for him. That he felt alive while he was doing it. I think his fresh answer to why he did it is the reason Skyler lets him see Holly. On the last day he was alive, his honesty, not his lies, got him what he wanted. What a beautiful lesson for him to learn after years of lies, decisions and change. As Walt said himself, "chemistry is the study of transformation," and I think he finally realizes what his transformation has done to him and to his family. He tells the truth, and because of it Skyler can finally be at peace.

As for me, many changes are coming in the next few months. Here are a few new beginnings that I'm looking forward to, besides finding a new show to watch on Sunday night:

1. Move in with these two lovely ladies!! I'm so excited to claim a room in their adorable house across town, and I can't wait to be all moved in.

On my birthday last month! 

2. Run a 5k. Around this time last year, I ran my first 5k and it was such an incredible experience. I have been a little lackluster about running/working out the past couple of months, and it's time to start back.

3. Start baking. Ever since I saw these pumpkin snickerdoodles on Pinterest, I've wanted to make them. As someone who is trying to become more domestic, this seems like a logical next step. 


Do you think fall is a good time for change? Did you love Breaking Bad as much as I did? 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Last night at the Emmys

If watching TV were my job, I'd be pretty close to a promotion by now. And last night was the biggest night for all my beloved TV people.

To be perfectly honest, I don't usually care about the Emmy's. They tend to come in 3rd place after the Oscars and the Golden Globes. Last night, however, it was supposed to be a big night for Breaking Bad, my newest TV obsession, as well as other shows that I love like Downton Abbey, Modern Family and Veep. After watching Breaking Bad (did we really think Walt was going to shrivel up and waste away in NH?? No way, Jose) I switched it over to CBS. Here were some of my favorite moments, fashion choices, and singing numbers. Just kidding, all the singing numbers were weird.

1. My favorite part didn't even come until the end. Let's all say it together: Will Ferrell. I love him, and he always seems to do something different and hilarious. Last night he managed to be appropriately funny without a tux and with his three kids by his side. I just can't even. He is a genius.


2. Fashion -- my favorite on the red carpet was, hands-down, Michelle Dockery. Not only do I love her as Lady Mary, but she looked classy, sophisticated, and stood out among a sea of neutrals with bold colors and that incredible silhouette. Other favorites: Rose Byrne, Kerry Washington, Christina Hendricks, Mindy Kaling, Laura Dern and Linda Cardellini.


3. a.Winners I loved: Breaking Bad, Anna Gunn, Colbert Report, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and The Voice.

    b. Losers I wanted to win and probably should have because I absolutely know what I'm talking about: Bryan Cranston (duh!); Downton Abbey was surprisingly absent from the list of winners, and I would have loved to see Lady Mary beat Claire Danes; who the hell even is Bobby Cannavale? Aaron Paul should have won supporting actor and I'm going to mourn that loss probably forever; the rest I was either okay with or couldn't care less about.

What did you think? Did you have a favorite look? Favorite winner?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Moral of the Story: Five Things To Do When It's Raining

It has been raining in Abilene non-stop for a solid 24 hours, a rarity round these parts, and I have been forced indoors. I got back from Dallas yesterday, a trip I'll discuss soon, and I have been contemplating what to do this weekend since the forecast is gray and wet. Here are some things I came up with:

1. Start a job -- So I thought for a while that I would move to Austin, one of my favorite cities in the wide world. While I still would like to live there at some point, it began to feel like wrong timing. It's one of those things that I can't really explain, except to say that I had a sudden desire to stay in Abilene. Austin will always be there, but for now, I'm going with my gut. Which, I guess, is currently in retail because I got a job at a boutique in Abilene where I've literally been shopping all my life. They sell a lot of random, fun things and I'm excited to start this afternoon! The girls who work there seem so cute and fun, and even though I don't know how it's going to fit into the overall plan, it's nice to have something to say when people ask me, "What are you doing now?"

2. Cook for myself -- My parents will be out of town this weekend, and a lot of people are going to be away for various things, so I'm looking forward to some alone time with the kitchen. I've been wanting to try these Chipotle Chicken Sweet Potatoes out, and tonight might be the perfect night for music, a glass of wine, and a new recipe.


Buy it! 

3. Finish my book, start another one -- I've been reading Lise Funderburg's incredible book, Pig Candy, for a few weeks now, and I really want to finish it this weekend. Not only was Lise a professor of mine this summer at the Paris American Academy, so I can hear her voice while I'm reading, but she is just a fantastic writer. She covers so perfectly her father's last few years struggling with advanced prostate cancer and his trips back to his hometown in Georgia. I recommend it whole-heartedly, and probably even more than that once I've finished the book.

Next up will be a novel from another PAA professor, Lauren Grodstein, whose new book, The Explanation for Everything, I can't wait to start.

4. Write! I know I say this all the time, internally if not blog-ternally (that's probably not a word, don't ask me to be an English teacher ever), but I really need to keep writing, exercising that part of my brain. Also, I was thinking about starting a writers' workshop in Abilene. If you or someone you know is in the Abilene area, a writer (beginner, professional, or anywhere in between), and would benefit from getting together with a group of writers every month or so to share our work, would you please let me know? This summer's workshop was so great and I would love to keep that going.

5. Online Shop -- I have a party next weekend, and I need to find a dress like Cinderella needs to find her goddamn fairy godmother. It is for a black-tie event whose attire is "Black Tie and Tie Dye," which is a pretty awesome idea, but also what does that even mean? I perused some shops in Dallas on Wednesday with every intention of buying a dress, but ended up walking out of Northpark Mall with a coffee mug from Anthropologie and two dresses, neither of which work for the party. Basically the story of my life... It's okay though, I will persevere and hopefully not end up with the entire new fall collection at j.crew or that elephant lamp I've been eyeing on Etsy.

Have a lovely, rain-soaked weekend!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lubbock or Leave It

This weekend, I made a nice little trip up to Lubbock, TX. As I said before, my friend is getting married in a few months and I was thrilled to be invited to her engagement party in her hometown of Slaton, about 15 miles South of Lubbock. They had delicious BBQ that her dad made (made!), and the sangria was perfect. Most guests gathered outside around their lovely pool drinking, eating and talking the whole time. Without any tall buildings or windmills in this town of 6,000 people, I enjoyed the beautiful sky as the sun went down. Those West Texas sunsets get me every time.

It was odd going this time, however, because all of my go-to friends who would usually sweetly put me up for a night or two aren't there any more. The bride was there, of course, but is there anyone more annoying than a house guest when it's your engagement party? I don't think so. So I had a mini-vacation in a hotel room all to myself.

Despite the wind knotting my hair at every turn, the dust that gets in my contacts, or my utter indifference toward Texas Tech football (except their coach...), I love to go to Lubbock; some of my favorite people live or have lived there. I used to visit for work quite a bit, and my trips were a nice mix of seeing friends and eating good food, with a little work thrown in here and there. I'm always being taken to a new place to eat with friends (it was Lubbock Pancake House this weekend) and as a restaurant-lover, it makes my heart melt with happiness, just like the butter on those pancakes. Mmmm, now I want pancakes.

I'm sure I'll continue to visit Lubbock, and I'm sure more people I know there will move on as the years pass. I'm not saying I'm going to go on craigslist and search for new friends in Lubbock (unless Kliff is on there), it's just another reminder that people move, jobs change, and life goes on.

And now it's time for one of my favorite songs by my favorite band from Lubbock, the Josh Abbott Band. Enjoy!

I literally...

And I'm adding these, just for a reference. Just so you know who I'm talking about. No other reason.

....cannot even..

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I was in 8th grade. As an office worker for the first half of the year, I was sitting in the administrative office behind a tall reception counter waiting to be given more errands to run, when the school secretary came in and said that New York had been attacked. I don't remember her exact words, but it must have been "New York," because I had no idea what the World Trade Center was before that day.

I came home to find my mother watching the news in the living room. My dad was in Guatemala on a medical mission, and he would be delayed coming home for a week longer than planned. I don't think my 13-year-old brain understood the gravity of that day or saw the impact that it would have on the entire country. I may still not even understand it, and I certainly do not have the words to write it. How can anyone wrap their minds around such evil, such loss?

All we can do is pray for those still struggling in its aftermath, for the future of our country and for the troops defending our freedom.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Moral of the Story: It's Fall, and Time For All My Shows To Start.

This weekend, I'm looking forward to playing golf, relaxing and drinking some wine, as I usually do on the weekends (and weekdays...). Besides my amazing shows that are coming back to TV this month, here are some things that are currently all up on my radar.

1. Fall is officially here (sort of)!! The weather this week has been so pleasant with highs in the low 90s, which feels almost cold compared to the past few weeks of 100-degree days. I'm looking forward to pulling out my sweaters and jeans, cooking fall-themed food like stuffed bell peppers, and drinking a million pumpkin spice lattes.


2. The other night, I was watching The Green Mile, and I remembered that Barry Pepper existed. He is such a fantastic actor, and I wish he were in more things. Oh, you know, he was in Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers, and played Bobby Kennedy in the recent miniseries "The Kennedys." He was also in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, a 2005 film I loved about a West Texas rancher, filmed mostly at Tommy Lee Jones' ranch near San Saba.

3. Guess what's happening on January Fiiiiiiiiiiiifth???  And oooh boy I can't even talk about it I'm so excited!!!! 

4. This pretty lady is getting married next year, and I can't wait to help celebrate her engagement next weekend!!! Jaryn is my fave Lubbock/Slaton gal, and she's going to be a beautiful bride! 

5. Also, the job hunt is still happening. Yeahhhhhh...

Have a good weekend everyone!