Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Do you need some inspiration for that certain someone in your life? Do you want to get them the raddest gift available? Well, I have a bunch of things I'm procrastinating from doing so it was either do this or make a video, and I've chosen to make a holiday gift guide. I'm not sponsored by any of these people and feel free to buy me all of these things as a "thank you" for giving you such a comprehensive list.


The Oregon Trail Card Game- Yourmom can die of dysentery without electricity now.

A stuffed Marnie- If you don't follow Marnie on instagram you are missing one of the great joys in life.

An Authagraph accurate globe model- because geography is the gift that keeps on giving. 

"Thing Explainer" by Randall Munroe- Another book by the brilliant author of, "xkcd."

A Rough Linen pinafore- Being a person who makes things can be messy. It's good to stay stylish while you're creating a disaster.

An inflatable hammock/raft thingamajig- For when you're practicing what it's like to relax.

Hipster goth nerd custom perfume- This website is bonkers and I love it. 

Fancy notebooks- For keeping track of all of your evil schemes/NASA projects/capers.

An Instantpot!-It's like a slow cooker but instead of being slow it's more like a turbo cooker. 

A "Y'all Means Everyone" sticker or magnet- Let people know that it isn't Trump's America yet and it's never gonna be.

Bamboo socks- Two words that don't seem to go together but are actually incredibly comfy when combined.

Light leggings- For when it's hot outside but you know on some level that you should be wearing pants.

A moustash stash- For emergency situations.

Brontosaurus earrings- Yes, a brontosaurus is real, just like Santa. If the thing has a name and a shape it is real. 

A Bill Murray pillowcase- I don't know why but someone in your circle is going to love this.

These weird shoes- These look like they have octopus tentacles on the soles but they feel like heaven. People always compliment me on them. I guess they look ok from the top. 

Something awesome from Runaway clothing- Because one of my old students is a co-owner and everything they sell will make you logarithmically cooler than you already are. 

A round beach towel- For all of the big plans you have this summer.

A bunch of monster-trucking PYREX- My Kroger has a set on special for $19.99. Generally a bowl sized doo-dad with a lid will run you like, five bucks. Aw yeah girl, you can pack yourself a nice lunch, bring some casseroles to your BFF who just had a baby, or just enjoy some pudding out of the frilly little puddin' cups. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Gender in Stereo Types

Me: "If you're a boy at a baby shower and you win a game...what is an acceptable present?"

Blake, deadpan, instant: "Tampons."

Me: " maybe a container of barbecue sauce."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Three Years

Happy Houseaversary.

This blog, and house updates in general, have been pretty slow the last few months. I've been aggravated by how much is left to do on the house. It's helpful to see pictures like these to remind me of how far we've come.

That said, I'd still love to live in a "normal" and "done" house. Three years is a long time to live in a construction zone.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday Night's Alright for Gaffling

About a week ago I was talking to my neighbor and writing buddy, Jo, and she dropped the tantalizing nugget of information that a huge historic area and park that was opening up nearby actually connects to the Green Mountain 'hood along a little sliver of woods. All you have to do is juke through the woods and cross the train tracks, and you're right in the thick of it. Soon the park will have miles of trails, a pond, and other attractions.

B was super psyched to hear this information and immediately looked it up on Google maps. He was itching to go out and explore but we had a busy week and temperatures were hovering around 100 degrees so we kept putting it off.

Tonight he couldn't wait any longer and begged me to go explore with him. 
"It's so hot," I whined. 
"It's not that bad," he said as his glasses steamed up.
"Muruuggggggghhhhhhh," I replied as I delicately melted into a puddle of goo.
"The website says they have some old house foundations...."
"I'm in."

Awwww yeah. I'm all about some ruins. Old crumbling chimneys, remnant foundations, mossy walls, mill dams....YES. 

Trespassing? BONUS.

It was so stupefyingly hot, and we had just eaten waffles, and I smelled a lot like bug spray, so I had some flashbacks.  Things were vaguely reminiscent but luckily not as arduous. I swannee, I have spent this entire summer either stumbling through the woods or typing words in this chair. 

After a fair amount of tromping randomly through the undergrowth we found something tremendous! AN OLD SPRING HOUSE!


And when we peeked inside you could still see the spring bubbling up and spilling out the way it was supposed to. It was evident that layers had been added to the house, and it had been retrofitted for power with a pump at some point!

Our path intersected an old road and then we started seeing some orange flags that looked like a trail! It made things a lot simpler and we were even more excited to confirm on our GPS that we were headed in the right direction. I was really sweaty and thirsty but B said something about an old staircase and some columns and I felt the metaphorical wind in my sails. (The actual wind was stagnant.)

We knew we were getting close when we saw some sweet vintage trash.


But then I looked up and saw this majestic clearing!

The pictures don't do it justice. I felt like I'd stumbled into the secret garden. You're looking at the remnants of an entire house, and a really enchanting one at that. The sun was going down and extant crepe myrtles were blooming. The scene was ethereal and smelled like lilacs and pine.

Old places like this, where everything is gorgeously haunted, make my imagination go wild. I love mentally filling in the missing pieces and envisioning what it would've been like in the glory days. It's probably the only trait I have that is even slightly goth. Well, that and my love of sitting in graveyards and staring into the middle distance longingly. 


It is amazing how quickly nature can reclaim a place. Let that humble you.

But then a deer stand nearby brings you back to the present.

It's ok, purple is a good color on me. Did I mention it was really hot?

I was enchanted by this teeny bulb I found in the dirt.

And even though I didn't find the kitchen sink, I did find a strainer. 

Oooh....historic strainer. 
Brain: Take. Me: Why? Brain: You gotta.
(I didn't. I took a picture. It'll last longer...well maybe not...this is a pretty darn old strainer.)

Imagine the parties on the veranda. 

B was enamored with this fused glass.

We found where my bulb goes! I don't know why this made me so happy but it did!

I left it in situ

It's appropriate that I was wearing my new balloon recovery t-shirt. It was a good trial for it. I had a quite fetching sweat/boob outline on it at the end of this excursion. 

It was starting to get dim, and we had a long hike out, so we found our way back to the trail and then looped around past where we'd come in. At one point we were surprised by a huge, as yet unidentified, bird of prey who flew off in front of us...landed...and disappeared....around this creeeeeeeppppppy thing.

PS Air conditioning is the best. 

"If we will have the wisdom to survive, To stand like slow-growing trees on a ruined place, Renewing, enriching it, If we will make our seasons welcome here, Asking not too much of earth or heaven, Then a long time after we are dead, The lives our lives prepare will live here, Their houses strongly placed upon the valley's sides, Fields and gardens rich in the windows. The river will run clear, as we will never know it, And over it, bird song like a canopy. On the levels of the hills will be green meadows, Stalk bells in noon shade. On the steeps where greed and ignorance Cut down the old forest An old forest will stand, Its rich leaf fall drifting on its roots. The veins of forgotten springs will have opened. Families will be singing in the fields. In their voices they will hear a music Risen out of the ground. They will take nothing from the ground they will not return, Whatever the grief at parting. Memory native to this valley Will spread over it like a grove, And memory will grow into legend, Legend into song, Song into sacrament. The abundance of this place, The songs of its people and its birds Will be health and wisdom and in-dwelling light. This is no paradisal dream. Its hardship is its possibility."- Wendell Berry 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Adventuremobile!

For a few years now, B, our friend Kurt, and I have been daydreaming about buying a van or a minivan or something like that that we could use as an RV. For opposite reasons our family cars are not the best for family trips. B's car is too rugged, smells like bowls of sunbaked yogurt, has a temperamental disposition and is unreliably climate controlled. My car is too sleek, too sporty and too cramped for our giant "child." I've tried to camp in it and it's a losing battle...and I'm only about five feet tall.

On those days where I've read the entire Internet, I'll switch over to the list that Craig made and scroll through the cheap and big offerings in the auto section. Sometimes I'll find something interesting, but the stars have never aligned where I've had motive and opportunity.


About a month ago I had the perfect storm of motive: two lackadaisically reliable family autos, tempting camping weather, one huge road trip on the horizon and one cramped balloon recovery in the books.  I also had opportunity in the form of a small chunk of savings that was earmarked for something fun and travel related that had finally snowballed into a reasonable amount of money.

Another issue that kept us from taking the plunge earlier was a stalemate. B wanted a truck. I didn't think a truck was practical because it was open in the back. I wanted a mini-van. B didn't think a minivan was rugged enough to tow with and it'd be madness to make a mini-van a 4 x 4. We went back and forth like this for a few years until, this time, B came over to the dark side and admitted that he'd consider a Honda Odyssey!

Carpe DMV and all that...I started looking for some mini-vans to test drive and then, one fateful day, I found a Honda Pilot for less than Kelly Blue Book value. I swooped on it. Back in the day my brother bought a Honda Pilot and B and I both kinda lusted after it. It has three rows of seats, is four wheel drive, and most importantly is part of the Honda family. I set up a test drive. B said, "Should I go by the bank?" Yes. Yes you should. Unless it was a crap pile on casters...I was gonna buy that thing.

(This is how I make decisions. Years of subtle research and mulling over and then overnight we own three cars like I'm LeBron James or something. )

Another awesome thing about this decision? I was a little worried about having car insurance on three cars but when we renegotiated our insurance with our broker, Travis, it turned out that we actually saved quite a bit of money! Bonus!

Behold the Adventuremobile in all of her glory:

The people who sold her to us were very sweet but they did not come from the Hoover School of Car Maintenance  so as soon as she was street legal I took her to Auto Patron and got the entire thing shampooed. If you live near Hillsborough, NC you should take your car to Auto Patron! The carpet is nice and fluffy now, but before, it looked like every time they finished a chocolate milkshake they just threw it over their shoulder into the back seat. I basically apologized to the manager when I drove up in it. Now it's delightful and it smells like a fancy old man!

Driving the Adventuremobile is very different from driving my race car. It has an awesome vantage point of the road and handles more like a truck. It's a bit like driving around in a living room. Passenging is even better. I can fling myself into all sorts of unladylike pretzels and ride in style.

My bestie bought a vinyl cutter and has opened an ETSY shop where we make t-shirts and stickers.  It is the MOST FUN.  I've commissioned a bunch of stuff already such as:

Ahhhh! I love it so much! It's like she pulled it out of my head. Which she basically did because I was like, "Make it exactly like this only better."

She made another one, that was also awesome in a 1970's Dodge Charger kinda way, but I knew it was going to be pink so I chose this one at the 11th hour. (Which was really 11 minutes. See also: I stay makin' calls with the quickness.)

Then there's this one, which came to me as if in a dream while I was at a stoplight:

You can already buy that one in the store. It's phenomenal. The multicolored ones take a lot of patience and skill to assemble but Phippsy is very talented. Please support her cottage industry.

Today I realized yet another bonus of the Adventuremobile...the on-board entertainment package features a DVD player, a CD player and...a TAPE DECK.

For the last 16 years I've had two cassette tapes in my underpants drawer, my drawers drawer if-you-will, that I have refused to part with during every Kon Mari-esque purge. Just the sight of them in all of their vestigial glory was enough to "spark joy" so I kept them.

The first one is, "Shut Up and Listen to Majosha" by Majosha. This was Ben Fold's band when he was at UNCG with my brother. My brother gave me the tape a million years ago, and even if it's unlikely to become a collector's item, it still held a hipster-y, "I knew of them before they were cool." appeal. 
Heck, I knew about them before I was cool. When this album came out all of my clothes had cows on them. (And my favorite shirt had cows wearing red Converse high tops which I wore with my red Converse high tops.)

The second one was a triumphant mix tape crafted especially for me by the Queen of the Mixtape, Margo Shelton. Does anyone in the world have better taste than Margo Shelton? No. They do not.

Jewels, books, music...she's the touchstone. 

When I got into the Adventuremobile today I wasn't in the mood for the one cd in the car (The Dodos, "Beware of the Maniacs," worn to tatters) so I went back in to see what else was quickly available and remembered! UNDERPANTS! 

This mixtape is so good that it's worth the price of the car. I basically bought a ritzy tape deck. 

This mixtape is so good that I am slowly transcribing the track list while driving so I could make a YouTube playlist to share it with you. I'm still adding to it as I progress through it so check back! 

For your listening pleasure:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How to Keep Deer Out of Your Garden

First, let me just say that I didn't mean to take such a long hiatus from the blog and I certainly haven't abandoned it. I like to use the blog as motivation to finish projects but sometimes that backfires and I don't finish projects OR blog. That's what happened this time.

We're 98% done with the bathroom. We're so close to being done with the bathroom that there's no reason to actually finish it. (Except for the fact that I really want to use the nicer shower...but in order to finish the shower B will have to go under the house with the snakes and that just sounds gross.) Eventually it will be done and I will post a full update about how wonderful it is.

This post is actually about gardening. Well, sort of.

A few weeks ago we went to the footh-ills to visit Pilot Mountain and stayed at the cabin we visited in the Spring. This time the gardens were in full force. The property has two stocked ponds, vegetable gardens and a huge berry patch. We spent most of the time fishing and sunning ourselves in the unseasonably cool temperatures. Fishing was amazing! As soon as we dropped in the bait, we'd hook a fish. Some of the times we managed to catch things on hooks without casting! Or without bait! I am thankful that it went so well because now B is interested in fishing with me.

The berry patch was also amazing because it had thousands of ripe berries and we were allowed to graze as we wished. Most of the berries that were ripe were varieties of raspberry or black berry. Some of the hybrids were amazing.

All of this food was just open without any kind of fencing which was remarkable because we saw so many deer out in the fields and even saw a turkey that was hanging out in the backyard. None of the tomatoes or squash showed any sign of nibbles...which is amazing to me because the deer in my yard eat everything. I asked the owner of the property how he discouraged the deer and he told me that he uses a no-fail trick that he learned from his grandparents. All he does is place a single raw egg with a hole in it in the garden and it keeps the deer away for six months! The whole season!

Well, I was skeptical. First, because it seemed too easy and if it were that easy then everyone would know about it and the entire corporate deer fencing machine would be dismantled. Also, because I lived in Mississippi long enough to be suspicious of people giving advice to nosy city folk.

Either way, eggs are cheap and the promise of a simple deer free garden solution was too much to resist so as soon as we got home I set out a sacrificial tomato plant and chucked one egg into the pot. I made sure to put it in a high deer traffic area because... SCIENCE.


After about a week I was totally sold on the egg idea and made a bunch of plans to add all of my favorite and most delicious plants to my gardens and put eggs out there! I even went to the garden center and browsed at all of the plants I never buy because I know they'll get gobbled up.

This technique worked fabulously! And no deer so much as nibbled at the plant! Foooor a few weeks and then I came out to a very small tomato plant with no upper branches.

I'm not sure if I needed to refresh the egg....or if it got all the goo rained out of it....or if someone besides a deer ate the plant. (Clearly I needed more controls on this experiment but science rules are for nerds and it's not like Bayer CropScience was funding this.)

I give this deer repellent technique two out of four stars. Maybe it would help if you already had something in place and you needed to add a little bit of oomph...but I wouldn't rely on this method for protecting your prize winning roses.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Just In Case

Just in case you are someone who reads this blog who doesn't also read my Facebook or know me in real life....

You might be interested to know that I just sent something to space! And you can read about it on my other blog at: