Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

I used to love doing this LiveJournal survey every year ...and since today is the last day of 2012, I think it's appropriate to bring it over to the blog. I love having these to look back on:

2012 in review

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

I moved in with "a boy", Got engaged, Cooked almost every meal myself, etc. etc. :)

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I kept most of my resolutions: I kept 1/2 of my house plants alive, I read 100 books, I worked out a ton, I was generally healthier...

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?

Just the U.S.A. There were lots of trips home to Arkansas & other near-by places, and of course, mine & Aaron's trip to Montana, Idaho & Wyoming in the Fall.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

International travel (I wrote this last year), another new, good start.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Sept. 21 (our engagement date)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I'm really proud of myself for reading 100 books, for being healthier. Aaron and I are taking THE big step, as That. :)

9. What was your biggest failure?

I'm upset with how unhappy I am from 9-5 every day, but that's not a failure. No failures!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not at all. Super healthy year!!!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

No big purchases this year. Aaron loves the pair of shoes I got him for Christmas, though ...and the GriGri 2 (belay device) I got him for his birthday in June, so I'll say those.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Aaron. For putting up with me, and asking me to marry him. :)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Oh, you know, Republicans.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, food, gas.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Our trip to Montana; getting engaged.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Instead of songs, we'll go with albums: Feufollet, "En Couleurs"; The Lumineers, self titled; The Avett Brothers, "The Carpenter"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

I. Happier or sadder? Happier.

II. Thinner or fatter? The same.

III. Richer or poorer? A tiny bit richer, somehow.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Sitting and being still.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?


20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent Christmas with my family and Aaron's family.

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?

I stayed in the best love of my life.

23. How many one-night stands?


24. What was your favorite TV program?

The Office, New Girl, The West Wing.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?


26. What was the best book you read?

I can't even. I'll refer you here to my blog about my favorite books of the year, below.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Contemporary Cajun!

28. What did you want and get?

Love. Routine. Better health.

29. What did you want and not get?

Everything still left on my registry. ;)

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Your Sister's Sister, Moonrise Kingdom

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 25. Aaron and I had dinner at El Rey for the first time. It's become one of our favorite restaurants in Montgomery

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A job I liked, more travel, more friends.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

A little more outdoorsy.

34. What kept you sane?

Aaron, Boone, our Apartment.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Kate Middleton is fabulous.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

It was an election year, so there was much stirring.

37. Who did you miss?

Mizzou friends, Arkansas friends.

38. Who was the best new person you met?


39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Don't worry. Just don't. It's not worth it.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart/ I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweet...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tea haul

This post is coming to you super early on Sunday morning because I can't sleep. I was having this problem before Christmas, but I slept great while we were home in Arkansas, so I have no idea what's going on. I blame Alabama.

I watch The Office on Netflix when I can't sleep ...or when I'm just sitting around, because I like the background noise. I woke Aaron up when I turned on "Dinner Party" (S4E13). It's the one where Jan & Michael annoyingly call each other "Babe" for the entire episode. Aaron and I used to mock it, but that lead to calling each other "Babe" and "Baby" seriously. Oops.

He said, "Since we're both up, we could just go ahead and leave."

"Sure," I replied.

And then he rolled over and went back to sleep. Heh. We're going climbing later today ...or, as soon as he wakes up, I suppose.

Since being Up up, I've gotten dressed & ready for the day (sans putting contacts in. My eyes are seriously going to hate me when I'm older...), did an hour-long yin class on yogaglo, packed our snacks and food for the day and made a cup of tea ...which brings me to the real point of this post.

This is my most recent online purchase (I really need to just stop...). I found out about the Republic of Tea awhile ago, and resisted purchasing until now. But, I'm a convert. I will order again once all of this is gone.

From left to right, we have the Hibiscus tea sampler...because I've never had hibiscus tea before ...100 percent white honeysuckle tea (which is what I'm drinking now), orange ginger mint, and Anna Karenina "Russian Rose Caravan" black tea.

I tried the Orange Ginger Mint first yesterday, and it's my favorite so far. It's perfect. It's spicy, citrusy but not too citrusy ...minty but not too minty. You get the idea. It's perfectly smooth as well. Much smoother than Celestial Seasonings, which is my normal go-to brand.

Yesterday evening, I steeped a cup of the Black rose tea. I didn't like it as much as my first selection. I didn't taste much of the Rose flavor. It was, however, very smoky. I don't think it says anything about a smoky flavor anywhere int he description, but that was the first thing I picked up on. It's interesting. I need a spoon full of sugar mixed in, just like I do with all black teas. I'm going to need another cup of this one before I figure out how I feel about it.

This morning, I went with a cup of the Honeysuckle White. It's the perfect blend of flowery/herby and sweet. It has the same smooth taste as the Orange Ginger Mint as well, which is just lovely. This tastes more like a spring-time tea, but I don't mind drinking it now, either.

I'll probably be giving tea as gifts much more often now because of the Republic of Tea's beautiful tins.

I'm not one bit disappointed. This only adds fuel to the fire of my tea obsession. By the way, shipping was super fast, and customer service is nice and friendly. (This is not a sponsored post!!!)

Friday, December 28, 2012


Little Rock got its first white Christmas in 86 years, and I was there, man...

(Aaron didn't bring his own hat, so he had to wear mine - the one with bear ears :) This is more snow than I've seen in the state maybe ever. It was insane...and kind of terrible. Everyone lost power on Wednesday, and the roads were too bad to head home, so we waited until yesterday.

This is the view from the end of my parents' street. Aaron and I took a walk on Wednesday when the power was out ...once we got tired of playing boardgames. Soon after that, we made our way (slowly and carefully) to his mom's house. Her power was restored sometime Wednesday morning. There, we ate Christmas leftovers & watched The West Wing all day!

Several thousand people in central Arkansas are still without power including my parents. I'm tired, but happy to be back in Alabama. I'm looking forward to a short work day and a restorative weekend.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday five

1. Christmas TV & movies

I finally got Aaron to watch one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies yesterday, Love Actually. There have also been Christmas episodes of The West Wing & The Office to watch ...over and over.

2. Korres Lip Butter

I've been wearing the "wild rose" color all week. It's a lovely color, scent and texture. I'm planning to give a few as Christmas gifts!

3. sleeping

Or rather, not sleeping. It's been a rough week for sleep, but I got a solid eight hours last night, and I feel amazing!

4. cheese

Yesterday alone there were quesadillas and pasta. So delicious. Mozzarella mostly. :)

5. lists

Gift lists...packing get the picture!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

100 books challenge & books for Christmas

I think I worded my New Year's Resolution this year something like, "Read More", and when I finally stopped holding out & joined Goodreads this summer, the site asked me if I wanted to set a reading goal for the year.

I'd been keeping up with how many books I'd been reading. My initial idea for a goal, though, was 60, because most people shoot for 50 & have a tough time. Then, I realized if I kept reading at the pace I had up to June, I could easily make it to 100. So, here I am. I'm reading my 100th book of the year, Richard Russo's Straight Man. I bought the book at Burke's Books in Memphis in February & just never got around to it until now.

I'm proud of my almost accomplishment. It's been a good year for reading, and I've read a lot.

Here's the Callie top-10 list (you can check out everything I ready this year on Goodreads if you care..):

The Hobbit
Snow Child
The Casual Vacancy
I Capture the Castle
Sisters Red
Poppy Shakespeare
It Chooses You

So, there ya go.

And now that the cat is out of the bag, I actually got almost everyone on my list a book for Christmas this year - and each was a book I read this year. I did my best to pick out books each person would enjoy.

Now the begging questions: Will I read this much in 2013? Probably not. I'm not going to make it a priority. My reading goal, instead, will be to read more poetry, since I didn't read any this year at all and haven't read much since college.

What were your favorite reads of 2012?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rain, rain...

I'm looking at inspiring images of rain this morning because, duh, it's raining...still. It started yesterday & it's still going. The color of the sky this morning reminds of me how it looked when I first moved back to Arkansas in October, 2009. That October was the rainiest ever. I remember questioning when it was going to end, and how much more of the gray sky I could take.

My friend Rebekah, who lives in Portland gave me some good advice about rain once, which is to think about all the fun things you can do when it's raining.

For me, this mostly includes staying on my couch and watching The West Wing with Aaron & eating yummy food, which is what we did for a good portion of yesterday. I'm blogging about The West Wing now, over here, by the way. In case you're interested.

I hope it's sunnier where you are!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lazy, laundry Sunday

Today, I'm missing this:

The cozy fireplace inside the country store at Horse Pens 40. The fire there, and from the camp sites throughout the property always smell so good when we pull up there on Sunday mornings. We never were really able to find a church in Montgomery, which was one of my goals for the year, and for living here...but honestly, climbing on Sundays is better than church. I'd rather worship the creator outside IN creation than in a sanctuary...

This is a photo I edited recently of a climbing trip with our friend Lane earlier this fall. He's more of a sport climber than a boulderer, but he could have fooled me. He almost finished this really muscle-y problem called Popeye.

It's raining today, so we headed to the laundromat instead of the boulder field. We have two coin washers & dryers in our apartment complex, but one of the washers is broken now, so washing 4 loads (our clothes for the week + bedding) would have taken all day. Sometimes it's nice to stay in town, anyway.

I don't mind the laundromat. The two times we've gone, we've gotten everything done in less than two hours.

It's also great for reading and people-watching. I finished The Cloud Atlas, which means that I have TWO books left in my 100 books challenge for the year. I'm pretty confident I'll finish, and I'll write more about it when I'm done.

I don't think I'll try to read as much next year. I've already decided my "reading resolution" is going to be to read more poetry, since I haven't read much since college.

Anyway, at the laundromat, people bring their kids, since...well, I assume if you're doing laundry at a laundromat, you're not going to pay people to watch your kids while you wash your clothes. The kids there today were adorable. They watched the Santa Claus 2 on TV and whined a little bit. It's hard to be patient with things like laundry when there are obviously better things you could be doing at home...

I'm also interested in everyone's laundry system. Most people like to fold their clothes there. We take ours home. Most people use the laundromat-supplied carts. We don't. We're obviously complete n00bs at this, right?

And then there's the single Asian lady on duty who walks around and asks, "Is that your washer that's been finished going for 10 minutes now?" ..."No."

Now that we're home for the rest of the afternoon, I'm planning on fixing up some Butternut Squash, Brown Rice Risotto - my favorite meal of the season this year, watching some West Wing and doing plenty of this:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday five

1. citrus
2. new shoes
3. running in the cold
4. online shopping
5. shepherd's pie

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A run review

Here's the timeline of my running life...

I hated running

fall 2008
After graduating college the previous spring and no longer walking around campus, I decided I needed to re-join the 'ol rec center & get on a treadmill. I started out doing a bit of weight training and treadmilling 2ish miles a few times a week

Oct. 2008-Sept. 2009
I lived in California and Michigan and took a break from all exercise (except my TaeBo workout DVD & Wii Fit)

Sept. 2009
I moved back to Arkansas and had a treadmill available in my apartment complex. I went back to it, and at some point in the winter of 2010, I ran my first 4 miles on a treadmill and never ran further than that.

Spring 2010
I started running outside occasionally and finally got over my fear of running in public. I bought my first pair of Brooks running shoes - replacing my cheerleading shoes from high school (yeah...).

Spring 2012
By now I was pretty serious about climbing and yoga, but I felt like I need a better cardio workout than the elliptical/treadmill in the gym. I finally lived in a nice run-able neighborhood, so I started running "for real". In March, while home in Arkansas for a wedding, I ran 5 miles, which I now view as a turning point, because I kept upping my mileage from there. I'd always had a side stitch, but during this five mile run and the several 3-4 milers before it, I figured out how to breathe correctly - finally.

Summer-Fall 2012
I pushed through the heat, and at one point in July/August, I was running an average of 25 miles a week. Not too shabby for someone who always "hated" running, right? My top distance during this time was 14 miles! I'm still not too concerned about speed, and can't get over the fact that I'm doing this.

Winter 2012
OK, now it's confession time. We're up to the present, and ...I'm scared of the cold. I am. I've never liked it. I don't like being outside when it's cold. When Aaron made me boulder outside last year when it dipped into the 20s, I was miserable...

Even worse, I like to run in the morning. I get crazy side stitch if I try it in the afternoon. I think my digestion, on average, is a little slower than most people's, maybe? And whatever I've eaten for the day really messes with me. I prefer to run on a mostly empty stomach in the early morning when there also happens to be less traffic and beautiful sunrises more often than not. But do you know how cold it is at 5 a.m. right now?!

So, for the past several weeks, I've been in the gym. To make my dreaded elliptical sessions a little more bearable, I've started watching episodes of Parks & Rec on my iphone while I work out. But, last week in Florida I went on my first outside run in awhile.

I came back inside realizing how much I'd missed that feeling of pushing myself. In the fall, I was toying with the idea of buying new shoes. I knew I'd need to eventually. After my run last week, I found the pair of Brooks PureFlows that I'd settled on, on sale for $72. Sold.

They arrived yesterday, and I took them on a run this morning. In 39 degrees. You know, 39 degrees is nothing when you layer up and go fast. I wore two pairs of tights, a long sleeved tec shirt, Mountain Hardwear jacket and a running headband that covered my ears. It was the perfect amount of clothing for my 6-mile run.

Running in the PureFlows compared to my old, worn down Cascadias felt like running on clouds. I know I need to break them in slowly, but I'm really excited about them now.

And I'm not scared of the cold anymore. In fact, I think running in 39 degrees probably feels better than my hot, sweaty, humid summer runs. I'm just a stupid, Southern girl I guess.

But, after today, I'm going to be a stupid Southern girl getting her run on at least twice a week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I was so lucky that I got to spend a few days at the beach with my dad at the end of last week. It was glorious. He had been there for almost two weeks when I finally made it down. It's something he likes to do because it's so restorative.

We relaxed after my three-hour drive on Wednesday night with some West Wing watching and potato skins.

I started Thursday with a five mile run that ended here:

…I was there before all of this:

And one of my favorite things to do when we're at the beach is go to the zoo with my dad. I feel weird about zoos sometimes, but the Gulf Breeze Zoo is very nice to its animals. You should visit them if you ever get the chance. My favorite part is petting and feeding the llamas, pigs and goats!

Thursday was beautiful, but on Friday we weren't so lucky, so I made my way back to Alabama.

I hope you got to do something restorative this weekend too.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday five

1. Buying Christmas presents (I'm pretty much done shopping!)
2. Tiffany Cruikshank yoga classes on yogaglo
3. Sand under my feet
4. Reading (always, but it's been a good week for reading)
5. Driving

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas survey 2012

I'm in Florida right now with my Dad for the next few days, and we're having a very relaxing Thursday! It's very much better than being at work. I found this Christmas survey on YouTube, and decided to bring it over the the blog world. Enjoy! Feel free to steal it. It brought back some great memories for me.

1. Do you start your Christmas shopping on Black Friday or wait until the last minute?

Neither. Usually somewhere in the middle. I have a bit of a list going right now, but I'm waiting for it to be Friday (payday) before I buy them ALL at once!

2. If you could be in any Christmas movie what would it be?

I have a soft spot for Christmas movies. I refuse to watch them any other time of the year. My three favorites have to be: It's a Wonderful Life, Love Actually and A Charlie Brown Christmas. If I had to pick one to BE in...I guess it would be Charlie Brown. I think it would be fun to be animated, and for things to be so simple and lovely.

3. Which do you like better: Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

Always Christmas Eve! Christmas morning is fun - opening presents and seeing family, but the day always goes on too long. I love the anticipation of the day before Christmas. It always feels a lot more cozy and magical to me.

4. When does your family put up your Christmas tree and who decorates it?

When I lived at home with my parents, we put up the same Christmas tree every year and usually my mom and I decorated it. Usually my dad is in charge of the lights. I decorated for Christmas this year by myself. Once we have a real house with "real" Christmas decorations, I'll make sure Aaron helps out!

5. White lights or colored lights?

White. They match everything, right? ;)

6. Are you guilty of peeking at your presents or do you like the surprise?

I don't like surprises! Or maybe I just don't like not knowing. As a kid, the anticipation go to me for sure, and I peeked a few times. If I didn't peek, I was at least always the kid shaking the boxes under the tree. I can handle it now that I'm older, but I'm still not a huge fan of being surprised.

7. Would you rather live in a gingerbread house or in Santa's Workshop?

Gingerbread house, obviously. Hello, it's edible!

8. Tell us your Christmas Eve traditions!

Maybe the traditions are why I love Christmas Eve so much. During the day I usually wrap presents and watch It's a Wonderful Life with my dad. We have Mexican food for dinner. This tradition got started when my parents lived in Italy right after they got married. They both love Mexican food, and it's hard to find over there, so my mom always went out of her way to make tacos on Christmas Eve. After dinner we would drive around and look at Christmas lights and come back home to open one present before bed!

I think things are going to change now that Aaron and I have celebrations with his mom's family AND his dad's family on Christmas day. Last year, we tried to cram the Christmas experience all into one day and had THREE Christmases, which turned out to be the most stressful thing ever. I think we might "do Christmas" on Christmas Eve with my parents this year.

9. If you could be under the mistletoe with anyone who would it be?

My fiance, obviously!

10. What tops your tree?

Right now, a flamingo...yup. I'd like to eventually have something traditional.

11. Can you name the 12 days of Christmas?

Honestly, not without looking it up!

12. Have you ever gone Christmas carolling?

YES! My cousins and I went one year in Northwest Arkansas. When we went to sing to the firefighters, they saw us pulling up and were worried something was wrong. They all ran out of the fire house to "help us", so they were probably pretty relieved when we started singing.

13. Do you countdown to Christmas? If so, how many days are left?

I have a Christmas countdown that my mom made me when I was little. You add whiskers (pom poms) to Santa's beard every day in December until Christmas. There are 19 days left as of this moment.

14. What are some foods and treats you can count on having every holiday season?

Hmm...mostly just the Mexican food...and your other traditional fare. I love Christmas cookies and desserts...but I love those any time of year, also!

15. How has Christmas kept its magic for you as you've grown older?

I think so. It's kind of year-to-year for me. Last year was tough since Aaron and I were living in different places. I watched Love Actually every night before I fell asleep to make myself feel better. It feels very much more like Christmas with my love around.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mediterranean veggie lasagna

Remember how I said I could never be a real food blogger because I never come up with any original recipes? Well, last night, cooked something that I completely made up, and happened to be really delicious!

I wanted to make a big meal last night, since today after work I'm heading down to Florida to hang out with my dad for the rest of the week. I needed lunch today, and Aaron needed meals for (most of) the rest of the week. Those stipulations obviously lead me to the idea of a giant ass pasta casserole.

If you happen to want to make this concoction, here's how I did it:


About half to 2/3 box of lasagna noodles
whole milk ricotta cheese (1 small-medium container)
shredded mozzarella cheese (to taste)

1 stick butter
1 pint heavy cream
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese
oregano and other seasonings

The veggies I included are:
sun dried tomatoes
sliced black olives
sliced mushrooms

I'm not too much of an onion person, but I think red and/or a little green onion could have been good in this as well as a myriad of other things. You could throw on some chicken if you're (crazy &) not satisfied by veggies alone.


Boil water to cook your pasta to al dente while you make your alfredo sauce: melt butter, cheese and stir in cream over low-medium heat. I seasoned with a little bit of pepper and dried oregano. You could season it with whatever you want or not at all! Combine and let stand until it thickens up a bit.

Drain your noodles and start assembling your casserole. This is my favorite part because it's total teamwork.

Grease the casserole dish with a little bit of olive oil and lay down the first noodle layer, followed by some ricotta (you'll have to spread this out a bit - best to take it out of fridge a few minutes before you start), a layer of veggies & then, sauce. Repeat three times or until you've reached the top of your casserole dish.

Make sure to reserve some sauce and a handful of mozz & parm for the top. Cover with foil & bake for 30ish minutes at 375ish, remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is melted & delicious-looking.

Everyone always says to let lasagna cool off for an appropriate amount of time so it'll all hold together nicely. I call BS on that, because you'll want to eat this thing right away, and while you eat your first, falling-apart piece, the rest of it will firm up a bit, so that's cool.

I was worried about this being a little too bland with the ricotta and alfredo sauce, but I used canned artichokes & olives as well as marinated sun dried tomatoes, which had enough salt and flavor to save this lasagna from a bland fate. If you're using all fresh ingredients, I'd suggest seasoning it up a bit more, and I maybe should have done that anyway, but New Girl was coming on, so...

And speaking of sun dried tomatoes, why are those things SO DELICIOUS?! I know they're considered kind of tacky sometimes, but I seriously want to put them in everything.

Consider this my attempt at an actual foodie post, but don't expect too many more of these. I think this was a complete and utter fluke - but a very delicious one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


This blog is way overdue because this happened BEFORE Thanksgiving, but here's a video of me sending our our Save The Dates:

StDs from Caroline Zilk on Vimeo.

Do you like my Boston Terrier sweater?! Ha. So, Aaron and I got engaged in September on our trip to Montana, which I never blogged about. I wasn't in blogging mode back then, but I'm absolutely thrilled to be getting married to the best man I know. I promise this won't turn into a wedding/marriage blog. It's just my life right now! I have a website to talk about all things wedding.

Making and sending our save the dates was fun. We researched interesting things that happened throughout history on our wedding day: Hungary became a Republic ... The first elephant arrived in the U.S. from Africa ... the inventor of Scrabble was born. Aaron loves Scrabble, so he thinks that last one means it's fate.

Anyway, I'm glad that people have our "STD" and people can go ahead and start buying me presents! ;) This is a picture of my Save the Date on Rebekah's fridge.

Monday, December 3, 2012

3 days, 3 states

What a weekend! There was too much alcohol, too much driving and too much fun! I'm pooped today, and starving, as always, but I wanted to share the past couple of days with you, here.

We left home mid-morning on Saturday to head up to Nashville, where we stayed with a friend of Aaron's from the band days. He's working on some new folksy stuff, so we got to sit in on a recording session before heading to La Hacienda for dinner. It was billed on Urban Spoon as one of Nashville's best Mexican places, and I was craving something a bit more authentic than what we usually get at the Burrito places we frequent. It was delicious! Aaron ordered something that came in a pot with some cactus on top!

The main event was the show we went to later that evening: The Mountain Goats! They're one of my favorite artists, and I can't believe I'd never seen them live until this weekend. It was a great show! It reminded me of when going to shows was kind of what I did. Shows and the show atmosphere is so familiar and nostalgic. After the show, we stayed up way too late with our hosts, but we still managed to get up early the next morning.

After a three-hour drive from Nashville, our destination was Rock Town - a lovely bouldering area in Georgia. It wasn't too different than Alabama (Horse Pens 40). We didn't buy a guidebook for this one day trip, so we did get a little lost... and we ran into some friends from the gym in Birmingham before making the long drive home.

How was your weekend?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday five

1. Apple-flavoed tea

I ran out of tea at work this week, so I had to buy more ASAP, obviously. I ended up with Sweet Apple Chamomile and Cinamon Apple Spice. Both by Celestial Seasonings. Both amazing.


A few weeks ago, I purchased a beautiful boxed set of the Lord of the Rings series & the Hobbit. I guess this was partially because of the new Hobbit movie coming out. It looks amazing, and I've never ready these books. I have no idea how they escaped me, but I'm loving them now. Such a great adventure!

3. Christmas decorations

I put up what I had a few nights ago. It's out of character for me to decorate before December, but I can't help feeling a little holly jolly

4. The Mountain Goats

I'm going to see them tomorrow! In Nashville! They played in Atlanta last year or early this year, I can't remember which. We were planning on going, but the show there sold out. They're one of my only favorite bands/artists that I haven't seen live before, so I'm really excited to knock this one off my list. I'm sure it'll be a great show. We're going to stay in Nashville afterwards and climb in north Georgia on Sunday.

5. Nail Polish

Because...why not. It's fun. My nails have been a really pale pink/nude all week, but I'm excited to paint them a fun color for the weekend.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

snickerdoodle love

I could never be an original food blogger, because I get all of my ideas from food blogs and pinterest and Laura Vitale...

This amazing cookies are no different. I got the recipe from a blog called Lovin' from the Oven.

And now that I've stated that, I'm going to take this opportunity to rant about a pet peeve I have: I really dislike it when people say "Oh, I got this recipe from Pinterest." or "I'm doing a Pinterest project!" That implies that Pinterest is responsible the idea you're taking and making your own. ...and it's NOT! Sites like Pinterest and Tumbler and Food/Wedding Gawker, etc. are simply photo-sharing, link sites. There is a real person working their butt off on their blog behind everything YOU may see as a "Pinterest project". So, whatever. Props to Kim at Lovin' from the Oven because this recipe is great, and as she states on her blog, the original recipe is from Mrs. Fields. Cookbooks = old school food blogs? Basically.


I made this batch last night, having never name snickerdoodles before, because we're going to be staying with a friend on Saturday night, and I wanted to bring him something yummy. But...I might have to make another batch just incase we eat all of these before our weekend trip!

They are so, so soft and so,so just...yummy. They're perfect for the holidays, I think. I love a good Christmas cookie. Or anytime cookie. Again, I say, yum!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On not being published (yet)

OK. So, I promised that part two of this NaNoWriMo thing would be about my journey to publication…

First, a quick update on where I am in this year's challenge: I'm caught up! I wrote my 1,667 words today, and now there are only two more days to go. Wow. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I finish. (That's not at all true. There's plenty to do!)

Anyway, I guess this story begins last year," when I finished NaNoWriMo 2011. I didn't actually plan on finishing. I gave up on my story after missing too many days of writing. I was a reporter at the time, and after writing all day for work, it turned out to be really hard to motivate myself to write fiction.

However, I took the week of Thanksgiving off and went down to Florida with my parents and my then-boyfriend, now-fiance. That week was pure relaxation…and a little bit of anticipation since we were planning on moving to Alabama from Arkansas in the weeks following.

So, I realized I had time to finish …so I did! I wrote several thousand words a day for those five-ish days and finished my novel!

And when I was done, I didn't hate it. I still really liked the premise, and my mind was already swimming with edits I wanted to make. But, I took a break from it. I'm still not sure if this is the right decision, but I suppose it had to be for me at the time since did in fact move to Alabama and start a new job/life/etc.

In February, I began the editing process. I edited, and I edited, which I've never really done before. I think there ended up being three drafts. During this time period - from February to about the end of May - we bought a printer!

I was super excited about it, and it has turned out to be such a nice thing to have! I learned that editing in hard copy with red pen? …there's actually something to that. I tend to pay more attention when things are down on real paper.

The next step was to write a great query letter. There are tons of online sources that will tell you how to do that. Mine does its best to appeal to the agent, talk about me and the project AND what inspired it - because that's important to me, I think.

So far, I've been rejected by a number of great literary agencies, and that's what I expected would happen. I think I have the right attitude. I hope I do anyway.

This is the first time I've edited a project and done this! It's GOOD to get rejected. Every writer says so - especially and famously, Stephen King: "My mother knew I wanted to be a writer (with all those rejection slips hanging from the spike on my bedroom wall, how could she not?),"

So, I'm preparing for several more in the coming weeks. I'm going to hold my head up. And, what I'm NOT going to do is keep pushing this project. I want to make sure that when I get published, it's with the right agent and the right project, and if this one isn't it…well, that's why I'm still writing.

Monday, November 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

Since my senior year in high school, I've always participated in, or at least thought of participating in National Novel Writing Month.

Actually, I finished in 2005, but didn't finish again until last year. In 2010, I wrote a story about it, which has to count for something, right?

As a writer, and aspiring novelist, I love NaNoWriMo! I love racing to meet a goal. This year, instead of writing 2,000+ words a day like I usually do, I've written the slow and steady 1,667, which is known as the "magic" number for NaNoWriMo participants. If you write 1,667 words EVERY day in November, you'll make it to 50,000. I'm pretty busy and pretty entrenched in this routine of mine, which I've come to love, and which keeps me sane, but I have had time to meet this goal so far with the exception of three days, which I've caught up with and made up for. So now, all that's left is this week: finishing it up & calling it a day er- month.

But, I've learned something this year, which I intend to share over the next few blog entries here. It's that I'm kind of over NaNoWriMo. The project is great for new writers: for people who have never written 50,000 words, or for people who want to do it just to see if they can. But, I don't even know how many writing projects I've finished in my life that I sprinted through and just ended up hating, and what I've written this month is just another one of those.

I want to grow as a writer in my own way starting from here on out. And for me, I think that means slowing down. It means planning more before I start and as I go. I might mean even doing some hard-core editing in the middle of things. But I'm OK with that.

I'll write later this week about the querying process for my first, real, official, edited project. Not surprisingly to me at least, it's not going great. I want the next thing I write (after November) to have a real shot at getting published.

I'm gonna try to make it work! Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hey, Thanks.

Thanksgiving happened.

This Thanksgiving was special because I cooked everything myself for the first time ever! I decided to keep it simple. I made: two turkey legs, a turkey breast stuffed with goat cheese, basil & sundried tomatoes, cornbread stuffing, green beans, butternut squash and pumpkin pie.

After that, Aaron and I took a short, little cat nap

And we went to see Lincoln with my parents, who came to town for the holiday. I just said goodbye to my dad. He's going down to his condo in Florida for the next two weeks, and I'm hoping to head down there for a couple days too! For now, I'm going to continue to revel in my food coma. How was your Thanksgiving?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Woo pig weekend

This was our weekend. And I'm sorry I'm so late. I wasn't feeling well yesterday, and today has been randomly busy.

Saturday, we went to see our Razorbacks play in Starkville against MSU. It did not go well, and yes, the cowbells their fans use are probably the most annoying things I've ever seen, heard, etc.

On the way home, we drowned our sorrows in some BBQ.

And on Sunday, like most Sundays, we went climbing at Horse Pens 40.

Not a bad weekend at all. How was yours? Or are you already looking forward to the long one coming up?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Five

This is new, but it's gonna be five things I love on Friday to help start the weekend on a positive note!

1. Sweet potatoes
2. Meeting goals (I'm current with NaNoWriMo!)
3. My Mountain Hardwear Monkey woman fleece
4. Walks around my beautiful neighborhood with my pup
5. The cold/warm feeling sheets have when you first get inside them in the fall

Thursday, November 15, 2012


In high school, I got annoyed at my old friends for wanting to stay home on Friday nights and watch whatever show was on. At that point, I developed a motto: “Stick a tape in the VCR and live your life!” ...We have DVRs now. And Hulu, and Netflix and all that good stuff, so now, of course, there’s less reason than ever to be on your couch when you could be out doing other things. But, since we live in Montgomery for now, and since there’s nothing too exciting going on, and since I’m usually too tired to go out most nights anyway, we’ve started watching TV. This is what we’re watching. I’ll start with what we actually watch on TV currently:

The Office
An old favorite. I’m absolutely obsessed with the America series. The British one is great too. It knew what it was doing stopping after two seasons, right? But I’m such a sucker for Jim & Pam, and the whole gang that I can’t stop watching. Yes, I miss Steve Carell like woah. And the writing/producing loss of Mindy Kaling is noted for sure this season. It’s time for it to go, there’s no question, but I’m really enjoying the last season. It’s not as bad as everybody thinks...

The Mindy Project
I mentioned about how much I love Mindy. I loved her book, and I love that she’s such a powerful, strong woman doing her own thing in Hollywood. I think she brings that across through her character. This show makes me laugh. I would probably follow Mindy to the ends of the earth.

New Girl
In high school, I started getting called “Jovie the Elf” after Zooey played that character in the movie Elf. I’ve been compared to her ever since. I even got asked for my autograph (someone though I was her) in San Francisco once. I’m honestly not TRYING to look like her. I like the way I look with bangs, and I always have. I’ve lived bang-less for 7.5 of my 25+ year existence. She has blue eyes; I have green eyes. Her hair is dyed crazy dark; mine is its natural medium-brown for now. I do love her, though, and she’s hilarious in this show. I’ll probably freak out and throw something if Jess and Nick don’t get together in the next several episodes, though.

Go On
Hello, Matthew Perry! I guess this is another show I’m watching for the actor. I was the biggest Friends fan ever, and I’m so glad to see Matthew Perry back on NBC. I love the premise of this show for the most part. I love ensemble casts, and this show has a crazy one - literally. The one thing i hate is SEEING the dead wife. Like, this is not supposed to be a paranormal romance story, right?! We’ll see. I doubt it’ll go on much longer.

Gossip Girl
Gossip Girl is my biggest guilty pleasure at the moment. I watched all of the previous seasons on Netflix, but I finally caught up enough to start watching this season on Hulu. I’m bored at this point. Last season was so ridiculous, and I have no idea how they’re going to wrap up this series. It’s just....too much. But, I can’t stop. Don’t judge.

We’re also watching the first seasons of Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones on Netflix when we can, but all of this overshadowed by the FREAKING WEST WING! Aaron has been a fan of this show for a long time, and I love it now too. We’re almost done with the second season. I love all of the characters so, so much. CJ is the strong, female character I crave. Sam reminds me of Aaron, so of course, I’m in love with him. I also have a soft spot for Donna...and Josh. I want them to get together SO MUCH, but don’t tell me if they do or not. I don’t want any spoilers! I wish I could have voted for President Bartlett in the most recent election. If he existed in real life, or if Martin Sheen could just channel him somehow, I truly believe all of our problems would be solved...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Three day weekend

This three-day weekend nearly killed me a little bit. Mostly because of my sleep schedule being compromised.

We were so, super happy to have our first real visitor to our home in Montgomery. We've had couch surfers, yes, but this friend of mine came to visit US from Tennessee.

Of course, he stayed over because he was covering a game in Jacksonville, Ala. for the paper he works for, but I'll take an visitor I can get. Not many sane, normal people actually want to spend time in Montgomery for any reason.

Friday night was nice and relaxing: a spaghetti dinner and some West Wing.

On Saturday, after Aaron got off work and I got finished with yoga class, we watched some more West Wing and got down to the business of addressing our Save the Date postcards! We'll finally send them out later this week, and I am so excited to finally have that first big project done.

We also did laundry - a feat in itself because one of the washing machines in our apartment complex is broken - and we roasted a chicken, which I told you about before.

Then, we waited for Luke. We watched another episode of the West Wing and Aaron fell asleep. After that, I got a lot done: the dishes, writing a chapter for NaNoWriMo (though, I didn't write on Sunday, so now I'm behind on my word count for the first time this month, though hopefully not for long).

Luke's game went later than expected, and then he had to watch his Kansas State Wildcats win their game. I can't blame him, but he didn't roll into Montgomery until about midnight.

On Sunday, we made our way to Birmingham to take Luke to the climbing gym and out for some Chipotle. Yum. We also hit up one of our favorite spots in Montgomery: Leroy for drinks, which turned me around even further.

These days, having three beers right before bed is more of a workout than running 10 miles. It seriously messes with me. Yuck.

Monday, my bonus day off was as dreary as I felt after a night of drinking. We ventured out in the drizzle for some Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A and to walk around downtown. Aaron snapped these photos of Boone and me at the Riverfront:

And we returned to the couch for a West Wing marathon! If you haven't noticed, I think the permeating theme of the weekend was the West Wing. We have been watching the show for months now, but it starts out super slowly, and took me awhile to get into it. We absolutely flew through season two, and have now started season three.

If anyone spoils me on any part of the series, I will not be a happy Callie…

How was your weekend? :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

These are a few of my favorite foods

There are now three things I like cooking more than any other things I cook. Two of these are recently-liked things. The one that’s not is soup. I like just about any kind of soup, stew or chili, and I love making them. I’ve decided I like making soup so much because it’s what I always thought cooking would be like when I was a little kid: just mixing things together in a big pot with lots of stirring.

I mean, I played a lot of House, so I pretty much got the stirring thing down pat by the age of about 6 or 7. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Number two is scones. I started making them recently for no reason, really, except for that I like to bake and I like to have sweet treats for breakfast. So far, I’ve made cranberry/white-chocolate, chocolate chip and apple-cinnamon; and so far I’ve enjoyed the cranberry-white-chocolate and the chocolate chip. The apple-cinnamon scones met an untimely death when my small counter was too full, and I accidentally knocked them off of their pan while they were cooling onto the dirty floor. Tragic, I know. In any case, they are easy to make and delicious to eat in the morning with a cup otea.

My third favorite...wait for it:

Roast Chicken. But, not just any roast chicken. I’ve only made it one way, and I’ve made it that way three times now. I can’t stop.

Laura Vitale taught me how to make Roast Chicken. And for that, and for her meatballs and her pork chops and, you know, like everything else, I am forever grateful.

This Italian woman - who is actually MY age - is a beast in the kitchen. I basically want to be her when I grow up.

I roast chicken with yukon gold potatoes just like Laura and it comes out perfect every single time. I’m just amazed at how easy it is, and how delicious!

Fun Callie Fact: I’ve refused to touch meet my entire life, which is probably further evidence that I shouldn’t eat it. I don’t eat much, anymore, but I can’t imagine never having this roast chicken ever again, which is why I won’t be calling myself a vegetarian any time soon. So, Aaron gets the fun task of rubbing the butter all over the chicken and stuffing the lemon, head of garlic and sprigs of herbs up its butt. I can’t wait for this man to be my husband, by the way. He stuffs a mean chicken.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my little mini food rant. If you’re not watching and worshiping at the throne of Queen Laura Vitale, you should be. I hope you’ve enjoyed spending time with me! Visit to get things that will never be as awesome as Lara’s recipes. ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The good old days

So, lately I've been thinking over and over about how much I miss how the internet used to be. The days of yore, if you will, when things just seemed so much more fun. Theweb was new and shiny, and I was in fourth grade and in a special club of people who had brand new computers with internet connections...

Does anyone ever think about how FAST the internet is now compared to how it used to be? I just gave up watching a video because it wouldn't load fast enough for me. Back in the day, I would plan a whole day around loading an internet video, watch it in two minutes and then think about how cool it was to have just watched a VIDEO on the INTERNET. I mean, really.

And, I realized as I typed all that, that someday this will sound to my children like my mother did when she talked about her family getting their first TV back in the real "olden days" (just kidding!). But, I think something happened to my 8-year-old mind when I heard the AOL dial tone connect for the first time. It was like a drug I couldn't get enough of.

I embraced the dancing baby. My first favorite website was where we could learn everything there was to know about my other favorite hobby at the time: beanie babies. Yup...

There was a creative group of young girls writing serialized stories on the internet and making pretty websites with beautiful, simple layouts and sparkly graphics.

I knew I had to be apart of it. But, back then, creativity was what made you cool on the internet...because we had to be so much more creative back then.

We had to teach ourselves HTML to make a website and come up with things to post there. We had LIVEJOURNAL and eventually XANGA, which became our outlets for expression.

You had to try harder. You had to know more. You had to sit in a chair at a desk with a mouse and a keyboard and a slow ass printer to get anything done. But we had Geocities, where you were assigned a web address based on what community you wanted to put your site in. There was Heartland Prairie and Enchanted Forest.

That helped connect you to a whole community of nerdy people learning the same things that you were...

And if you needed to be connected any more than that, there were WEBRINGS. Sometimes you had to be super popular for your site to be in a web ring, or sometimes you had to know the owner of it or your site had to be about a certain topic. In any case, it was amazing.

These days, you can put any old crap online, and since putting crap online is basically what I do for a living now, I'm honestly getting kind of bored of it.

To alleviate this, and, you know, if the whole world listened to me, I'd say we should bring back Geocities 1.0 - before Yahoo even played a role. We should bring back floppy disks (because the old versions of my treasured first websites only exist of floppy discs). We should show down connection speeds and have an internet renaissance.

We would all be better for it...

What are your favorite old internet memories? We should share them before we get too old and forget, right?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting in Alabama

I didn't research anything until the day before. Aaron said he doesn't care about most of the local amendments, but I still want to do the best I can for this place before I inevitably leave it.

I decided I wanted to vote for Bob Vance for Circuit Judge because he has the name as a semi-reoccurring character on The Office, and I just imagine him introducing himself to people as, "Bob Vance, Circuit Judge."

I voted YES to Amendment One, which will "Keep Alabama Wild," and preserve an important environmental program, which is important to me as a person who enjoys being outside in Alabama at the present time.

I voted YES to remove racist and terrible language from Alabama's constitution, which was apparently written in 1901.

I voted NO to combine a small town's water system with the city of Mobile, because I figure the small town wants to keep it's little water system and some people want to keep their jobs.

I voted to decrease the length of time between elections for county officials from 6 years to 4 years, because I think everyone gets bored after 4 and needs a change anyway.

And yes, I voted for four more years of Obama, even though the state is going to go red, and even though I apparently agree more with Jill Stein's position. I still support the President.

…I went to vote with Aaron when he got off work at 1:30. Our polling place is about a mile from our apartment on the campus of Huntingdon College, a cute, little Methodist school. There was no line, but a steady stream of people going in and out of the student center on a chilly, gray day.

I learned that all of the old people in Montgomery know each other. They say, "Hello theya" to each other when the hobble close enough to recognize their similarly old friends.

I just said, "Hah." to the old poll volunteers. They don't seem impressed that I'm the last name in their book and still have my Arkansas ID. They don't care that this is the last time Caroline ZILK will vote for a president. Next time, Caroline NEWTON will. She sounds like an old, English grandmother to me, but I'm sure I'll get used to that.

I had an hour off work, paid, to go do my civic duty, and since it didn't take that long, so we went to the cafe down the street that we usually only go to, to get some gelato after we have pizza at their sister restaurant. I got a cappuccino, and of course I wondered why I haven't been drinking this cappuccino for the almost-year that I've lived a mile from this cafe.

And now I feel all jittery… And now I've told you my whole election-day story. The end.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I don't even care anymore.

A week ago, I was talking with my boss's boss…my "big boss" or whatever, I guess. And, like office conversations so often are, our conversation was, by default, about the weather.

"It's been so nice lately," she said, of the rapidly changing weather.

"Yes ma'am. I've been loving it."

I told her spent my weekend rock climbing in Northeast Alabama and she because we were in the office, she brought up the weather again.

"You know," she said. "They get real snow up there in the winter! Isn't that crazy? I mean, I know you're from a place that gets real snow too, so…"

"No I'm not," I quickly interrupted.

She thought I was from Missouri, even though we've had this exact same conversation before.

"No," I corrected. "I'm from Arkansas. I just went to school in Missouri."

"Oh, well then you still get real snow in the winter."


"Yes you do."

Um…she was fighting with me?! Come on.

"Nope. Arkansas' weather is pretty much exactly the same as it is here," I said.

Looking back on this conversation, I probably should have gone along with her.

"Sure. It snows BUCKETS in Arkansas," I should have said. "it's like a freaking blizzard every year from November until fuckin February."

….yeah. I wasn't in the mood.

And so many days, I'm not.

Being down here is just wearing on me lately.


There is light at the end of the tunnel right now, which is a good thing because I'm currently drinking my LAST Boulevard Wheat that I've been boarding in the fridge for months. (Hey, Boulevard is based in KANSAS CITY … that's in MISSOURI … it snows there SOMETIMES…)

The day after tomorrow (holy crap) I'll be driving to Arkansas, and on Tuesday I'll board a plane to Bozeman, Montana with Aaron to climb, camp and see all the western beauty for sixish days! After that it's back to Little Rock where we'll hang out with family and friends before heading up to Jasper for 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell, a climbing competition at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper.

I could not be more excited about this trip. I also could not be more bored now…because Aaron is already out of town (he'll get back Monday before we drive to Arkansas) in Las Vegas for his brother's bachelor party. Woooo.

And I'm suck here in this God-forsaken state. The game (Us vs. Alabama) is about to start.

I'd basically rather be anywhere else.

I'm gonna go finish my Boulevard now…

Friday, August 17, 2012

lets go to the movies

I'm actually in a terrible mood this Friday. I can't wait for the weekend, and hoping something will pull me out of the funk I woke up in soon.

But, to expedite that, I thought I'd blog about something that does make me super happy: all the great movies I've seen lately.

Back when Aaron and I lived in Little Rock, we almost never went to the movies. We saw True Grit on our third date, and I don't think we went to another movie for well over six months.

Lately, we've been to the theater five times to see four great movies. Back in early June, I listened to a piece on NPR about all the great summer movies coming out, and I'm glad to say that we've crossed these off our list:

The awesome thing about this film was that there were basically only three [great] actors throughout the whole thing, and apparently, they got to improvise a lot and influence the creative direction of the film, which is really amazing. The story was intimate and personal, which made it uncomfortable at times, but it's the kind of film that really makes you feel things.

It was shot in the beautiful pacific Northwest, which made me long for cooler weather and beautiful scenery and simplistic times.

The ending was perfect! It leaves a lot up to your own guesswork.

We got to see this film at our local indie theater, The Capri, on our first visit there. It's an adorable little place just about 1.5 miles from our apartment, and everything there feels really classic. I love it.

Next we saw Moonrise Kingdom, which is probably my favorite of any of the movies I'll mention in the post, because I"m such a huge sucker for Wes Anderson's work. Once, a new friend I met traveling said to me, "Do you like Wes Anderson? You look like the kind of girl who would like Wes Anderson." I'm still not sure what that means, but I guess I'm "guilty".

This was very typical Wes Anderson style: strong female main character, perfectly and beautifully detailed sets and costumes, complicated relationships, love...

Perfect. That's all I can say.

We saw the latest Batman movie on Friday evening. We would have been at the midnight showing if we weren't all old and tired, but I felt kind of weird about going after the Colorado shootings.

In any case, this trilogy of films is one of my favorite in what I consider the "action" genre. I think, initially, I got into the films because of Christian Bale. I know he's an asshole, but he's also a very beautiful asshole of the only celebrities I actually kind of drool over.

Again, a perfect ending to this film and to the trilogy.

Aaron really wanted to go see this in IMAX as well, but I think we did something better: we saw it at the drive-in! We discovered a drive-in theater pretty close to one of our regular climbing spots, and decided to go see a movie the next time we went camping, and we did!

Besides raining for a few minutes at the beginning of the movie, it was a great experience. I fell asleep about halfway through in the bed of the truck on our crash pads...oops. And Boone even came with us! ...He fell asleep too, of course. And I'm still not sure if dogs are technically allowed or not, but we were pretty discreet about having him there, and I hope we go back to see something else soon!

Just last night, we returned to the Capri to see this film on its last night there, and I was not disappointed.

I heard a lot of comparisons to Woody Allan's last film, Midnight in Paris, but I liked it better than that...

I think it was all tied together better - by not really being tied together at all - and, with the exception of Alec Baldwin's role, not including time travel, technically.

The lack of Owen Wilson was also a plus for me, as I am not a fan....

But yeah. This may or may not be a spoiler, but I'll just say one thing about this movie: an opera singer, mortician in the shower. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

In conclusion, I'm really glad we see more movies these days, and I hope we keep it up!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Petit Jean and other Places

I'll have a longer entry another time. Right now, though, I'm working on writing something more "real," that will hopefully go places other than this little blog that almost no one reads.

It's kind of about a sad, stuck feeling that I only feel when I start to make up problems about how life is right now.

Nothing's wrong. I live with the man I love, who takes care of me and inspires me and takes me on adventures and encourages my eccentricity (Callie-isms). I talk to my friends, far away, whenever I want. I practice yoga and run and climb and feel alive and healthy and whole. I have enough to eat. I have enough of everything, and I find beauty in simple, every day places.

But sometimes, when I see the Coosa or the Alabama River, I think about the Arkansas. When I look up at tall, Alabama sandstone, I miss walking over goat poo in my Chacos. When I run in my neighborhood I wonder who I'd be passing on the Big Dam Bridge & the River Trail. And mostly, every time I see a damn Alabama or Auburn ANYTHING, I miss sensible, like-minded Razorback fans.

It's not a feeling I have all the time. Not even most of the time. But, every once in awhile, I can close my eyes and see exactly the way the River coils through the farm land from the Petit Jean favorite place.

Monday, July 2, 2012

near cooking fail

This week, I read only one book: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. First of all, if you haven't seen it, The cover of this book is amazing. It takes place in Italy …and Hollywood. And England and Scottland and Idaho. You get to travel in this book …you get to devel into people's lives and really experience them. This author has a true talent. I recommend her first book as well, The Financial Lives of Poets.

I was tired for a lot of this past week, and I slept a lot because I needed to. I love it when that can happen. But, because of that, we skipped dinner some nights, which is an odd thing to do. On Tuesday, Aaron made turkey burgers. But other than that, there was not much cooking to speak of. Hopefully as of today, I will be back on the bandwagon.

Friday was a great day. Aaron had a pretty easy day at work, so he had time to surprise me with flowers. :) I suggested we make stir fry, because I needed to use the peppers I had, but he said it could wait, and let me pick a restaurant for dinner. It had to be Indian, of course. And it was delicious. I had my first dosa in a long time. Yum.

We saved the stir fry for camping on Saturday. I spent the morning relaxing and watching TV in bed, and at about 1 p.m., we headed up to Sand Rock to camp and climb …and eat this delicious skillet of food. It seriously disappeared in minutes. For some reason,w e usually default to the idea of chicken when we camp, but the steak I had was already cut into stir-fry strips and made a delicious camp meal. We didn't build a fire since it hasn't rained in weeks.

Sunday, we tried to start out early, but by 8 a.m., the sun was already hot and beating down on us.

Boone was not amused, but we tried to keep him cool by finding good routes to climb in caves…

That's Aaron on a great route called Dreamcatcher. I climbed "Lichen This," "Oyster" and "Tarzan," and I didn't want the weekend to come to an end.

On the way home, we stopped in Birmingham at a great dog-friendly restaurant called Rojo. I think it's an instant favorite, and I have a feeling we'll be headed there after future trips when we have Boone with us because the queso & sandwiches were delicious!

My new obsession for the week is Bunheads, the new ABC Family show. I watched episode 3 on Saturday, convinced it was episode 1 for some reason …and now I'm going to have to buy the first two on iTunes to catch up before the fourth episode airs. It's by the creators/writers of Gilmore Girls, which means it's brilliant and hilarious. I recommend to all!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Trying out a new format here …for the first time ever. Woo. Lets see if this sticks. I'm going to talk about: the things I'm eating, reading & doing on the weekends, because if I'm blogging once a week, I'm almost guaranteed to make at least one awesome meal, read at least one awesome book and have some awesome adventures!

Other AWESOME things that happened this week include Germany's victory & advancement in the Euro Cup. They'll take on Italy next, which will be a tough game. I've been cheering for and keeping up with the Deutscher Fussball Bund ever since studying in Stuttgart during the World Cup in 2006. I have such great memories from that time, and watching soccer makes me extra happy!

I skipped my long run, which I'd been planning for the end of last week. Now I'm hoping this Wednesday will be the day I run 11 miles. The more I talk about running long distances, the crazier I feel. But running feels good, so what are you gonna do?

Now on to the good stuff….

Amazing recipes of the week

Stuffed Zucchini

Made this for Wednesday dinner and it was delicious. While I've been a long-time lover of squash, for some reason, I never liked its green brother until about a year ago. I've been roasting a lot of zucchini since then, and one of my favorite ways to eat it has been Rebekah's zucchini-potato fritters. Delicious. But, I'd never stuffed zucchini before this week. I adapted the recipe a bit, and it mostly reminded me of making an old favorite, twice-baked potatoes. I think we will be doing this again. Served with some plain couscous, this was a filling & delicious meal.

Now, moving on to Friday's feast…

Chicken Echiladas

Enchiladas were something I didn't grow up eating at home for some reason, and I decided to try my hand at this for the first time a month or so ago. I did this the easy way: chicken cooked in taco seasoning lumped into tortillas with canned enchilada sauce over the top. Sometimes I enjoy doing things the easy way. And sometimes I do things like this --- the really hard way! This is one of the most labor intensive recipes I've ever undertaken. Let me just skip ahead & give you a giant spoiler: it was so, so worth it. But, everything is from scratch in this recipe except the tomato sauce and the tortillas themselves. I even grated cheese, people. I never grate cheese, and I've never been so impressed with myself for cooking something so delicious before. Thankfully, we could barely finish one large enchilada a piece on Friday night, and since we were mostly out of the house all weekend, there are still some of these bad boys left to be enjoyed today. I can't wait for lunch!

Blackberry pie bars

Blackberry cobbler is one of Aaron's favorite desserts, so when I saw this recipe pinned by Flickr, I knew it was only a matter of time before it would be in my belly. It looked too good and too easy …and it was. I whipped this up while the chicken for the enchiladas were cooking. I was worried about the crust. I don't think I've ever been instructed to cook with chilled butter. Instead, It's always at room temperature for cake, cookies, frostings, etc., and I was worried about the texture of the crust. But, duh, the butter globs in the flour just makes it extra flakey & crispy & awesome. We ate this pretty much right out of the oven with some vanilla ice cream, so there wasn't too much "bar" about it, but now that they're cool, I may try to chop them up into serving sizes. …or, you know, just eat them out of the pan.

What I read…

Did I mention I've been reading a lot? I joined Goodreads awhile ago, so you can keep up with me there. For some reason, something has gotten into me, and I've already read over 50 books this year! I started the A Song of Ice and Fire series on the beach this weekend, and I'm also currently reading Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, which is amazing & yes, beautiful so far.

But, here's a bit of what I read last week…

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

A fun little book about a girl traveling in South America. She's fresh off a recent breakup and uses traveling and meeting interesting characters as her therapy. This was no great literary feat or anything. To be honest, I've been reading a ton of pretty trash young adult fiction lately, and I'm perfectly fine with that. This was, however, a great, light summer read. It would be great for the beach.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

This is another "I-broke-up-with-a-boy-so-I'm-going-to-travel" book. Except this is a true story of a badass woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I've been looking forward to reading this for awhile, but I have to gear myself up for non-fiction. This book reminded me of a much more literary, much more serious version of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, which, I learned while reading in May, everyone freaking loves. I'm not sure if I'm made for long hikes, but I do love reading about them. This author has a great voice. I loved the way she intertwined details from her past through her journey forward on the trail.

Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi

I read this book in one sitting on the way to Birmingham on Thursday afternoon. The only other graphic novel I've ever read was Satrapi's Persepolis. I loved it, and I heard Chicken with Plums is being released as a film this summer. I'd love to see another film like the adaptation of Persepolis, and this author is great, so I decided to check it out. I can't say too much about the story because it's so short, I might spoil it, but trust me when I say that it absolutely blew my mind. This 80-page story is totally worth a read. It's a beautiful book.

Weekend adventures

After a much-needed night in on Friday, I was excited to head to the beach on Saturday. We'd talked about going to Dauphin Island, which is apparently dog friendly, but we rethought our plans and kept Boone at home for this trip to Orange Beach instead. The drive felt longer than the last time we made it in November …probably because I was excited to get there. Though, actually, I like the gulf coast better in November as well. Quieter, cooler. Still, I had to dip my toes in the ocean just once this summer.

We made it to the beach at about noon and went for a swim. The tide was high, and I got a little beaten up by the waves and had a blast. A few kids on a church trip were handing out free freeze ice, which was amazing! Besides swimming and walking along the coast, we laid down in the sand to read for a bit. I started Game of Thrones, and Aaron started The Curious of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. This made my heart happy because Aaron isn't a reader, but he was giggling at this narrator's amazing voice the whole time he was reading. I hope he'll finish it soon, because I loved the book myself.

All in all, we were on the beach for three hours, and even though we applied sunscreen, we're still a little crispy today, unfortunately. After our beach experience, we had dinner at a beach bar-type place, and I ate crab! This is a big deal. This is the first sea food since I was forced to eat fish sticks as a child that I actually enjoy. We'll see what happens from here. Aaron says his goal is for me to be sucking on crawdads in the next few years. Yuck!

I was happy with my crab on top of fried green tomatoes, salad and a pina colada while I watched folks roll in from a red snapper tournament earlier that day.

Saturday we climbed at Sand Rock, which is becoming our new favorite crag. This time we took a couple of new friends along, which was fun. I'm happy to share our rope with people who have as much fun climbing as we do. Probably the most exciting part of the trip, though, happened as soon as we were pulling up. A hot piece of glass near a bush had sparked a wild fire, which we and four other climbers put out with dirt and water. It was a very valiant effort, I must say.

I'm dragging so far this Monday morning. Hopefully my coconut water will help. I think I'll feel much more settled as the week goes on, as I usually do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

weekend adventure: beg'd borrow'd & steel'd

Summer Heights High came in the mail last monday. I'd been contemplating buying the genius Australian series for a long time. I watched it for the first time when I was living alone in Michigan in the summer of 2009. It lifted my spirits considerably. I watched it again once I'd moved back to Arkansas just because I'd loved it so much. It was cheap with free shipping on Amazon, so that's pretty much what I watched all last week when it was gray and cloudy.

I came home from work each day last week to the kitchen. I cooked: chicken and veggies; a casserole Aaron's mom used to make with ground beef, mushroom soup, vegetables & cheese; eggplant/zucchini parmesan. I used to be terrified of frying things, but now I think it's really fun!

There was even a freak thunderstorm in Montgomery on Friday evening which caused an evacuation of the indoor pool I was swimming in at the YMCA. …Something about the water pump being outside?

The weather on Saturday was perfect, though, as we headed up to climb at an event called Beg, Borrow & Steel. I described it to friends as a "rock climbing party," though we didn't do much of the "party" things like jousting & a belly flop competition …or drinking except for the little bit of beer Aaron put in his water bottle.

We climbed almost 10 hours straight on Saturday with breaks for lunch (hotdogs, so I snacked on jerky & oreos) and dinner (BBQ & salad!), we woke up on Sunday and packed up. Aaron climbed a route and a half before declaring he was done. I wasn't even going to try….

We went for a swim in the beautiful river and left at about 10, making it to the Chipotle in Hoover in time for lunch at Chipotle! We picked up a few things at Mountain High - a new, purple, narrow neck nalgene for me …my dream water bottle. I also fell in LOVE with a pair of Merrell shoes that hardly exist anywhere in my size… and we got some Pink Berry for dessert before making it back to Montgomery.

I was so happy to see Boone! I hate leaving him, though we'd had a local dog walker feed and walk him twice while we were gone. We unpacked and made a quick trip to the dog park before spacing out on the couch for the rest of the evening.

I posted photos from the weekend and from the rest of our time in Alabama so far, since I hadn't done that yet. I actually haven't shot too many photos with my "real" camera. I'm a pretty good instagrammer, which you should know if you follow me on twitter.

The photos I have taken make me happy. This weekend, especially was a good time of reflection. It's easy to let the work week get you down, but we really do live in (near) a beautiful place. I'm thankful for that, and for being able to climb and hike and swim. So, I'm heading into this week with good energy and lots of water. Can't beat that.

Monday, June 11, 2012

indian in the french quarter ... 10 miles ... rain

I started last week out in New Orleans. Through a strange twist of events, I had to visit our regional office there for work. I headed down Sunday evening with our company’s deputy legal director.

She had dinner with the head of the office and a few higher-ups, and since I’m not important (read: not a lawyer), I was left to my own devices. I had an Indian food craving, and found a few options in the French Quarter, near my hotel, so I wandered around for a bit until it started to get dark. Then, I made my way to Salt & Pepper, a middle-eastern, Pakistani type-restaurant where I ordered a chicken curry & some naan.

The shop owner asked me if I was French. Apparently, to Pakistanis, I look French?

Me: “No, I’m mostly Scandinavian and German.”
Him: “Oh, Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

Me: “Ja. Ein Bisschen.”

He asked me why I decided to study the language, and I said “Just because,” and we talked a little bit more. I walked my food back to the hotel and watched “My Big, Fat, American Gypsy Wedding” while I ate. I don’t usually watch those reality TV shows, but they can kind of suck me in, and this one was insane.

I took a bath and went to sleep in my king-sized bed. I’d like to say that I sprawled out in it, but I generally sleep curled up into a ball. It doesn’t matter how giant my bed is. I still sleep curled up in a ball.

The next morning, I woke up early, grabbed a coffee and danish from the Starbucks in the lobby of our hotel and waited for my co-worker...

We went to the office, which is so much more charming than ours here in Montgomery. I worked until it was time to make my little presentation to about 10 legal interns. I’m trying to teach them how to do journalistic-style interviews for a project this summer. Yes, and they are legal interns...genius.

We didn’t get back until about 6:30 on Monday, and after being cooped up for two days, basically, I had to go to the gym for a workout/run on the treadmill.

The rest of the week went by pretty quickly & uneventfully. I neglected grocery shopping, which means we ate out a lot, unfortunately.

When we lived back home, we ate most meals out, but since moving here, I've been on my cooking spree and happy to be in the kitchen, eating healthier & spending less money.

Friday morning I completed my first 10-mile run! It felt good. I ran the first two miles slower than usual, but still completed my first 5 miles with a sub-10-minute pace, which is fast for me. I usually run a mile right at 10, and a little over that when I get past 6ish miles. I cramped up a bit, got lost on my route, but things didn't feel terrible until the last 1.5 mile mark. I got to see a beautiful sun rise, a guy accidentally come out of his house in his underwear to get his paper (I guess he assumed no one would be running by so early), and some drug paraphernalia in the street. Ah, Montgomery. I got home, stretched out & ate four pieces of bacon while standing in the shower.

Friday night, Aaron and I decided to finally go see a Biscuits baseball game. I think the biscuit logo is adorable. And yes, they do sell a variety of biscuits at the game. We did not eat healthy. We had some biscuits and gravy ...and a Coke ...and a funnel cake ...and a pretzel. Yup. It was a good night, even though we lost & didn’t even stay till the end. It was actually chilly outside! I'm so surprised at the weather in Montgomery. It's been cooler than I thought it would be for June …and rainy.

The forecast for the weekend all last week promised sun on Saturday. What did we wake up to? A gray sky. Aaron went to work, and I went to the grocery store. I hopefully bought chicken, snacks & s'mores makings. By the time I got home, it was raining, and the terrible weather front was heading east. There was no way we would beat it.

Dejected, once he got home from work, we took a three-hour nap, watched the Iron Lady & ate Chick-Fil-A for dinner. Meryl Streep was amazing, I thought. But I would have liked to see more detail, even though this was such a character-driven movie, only because I didn't learn much about the NRA conflict in school, unfortunately. I did take an EARLY Irish History class in college, so we obviously didn't make it to the 1980s. I'll have to do some independent reading on the issue, I suppose.

Because I'd wanted to go camping so badly, I decided to put up the tent in the living room on Saturday night. We ate the s'mores for dessert anyway, and Aaron played me pretty music on his new guitar. Yes, we slept on the floor, and it was rejuvenating. I suggest everyone camp out in their living room/bedroom/backyard if they get the chance to.

We had almost decided to stay home on Sunday. I didn't want to drive to Atlanta to go to the big, overwhelming climbing gym there for the second weekend in a row, and the Birmingham bouldering gym has been closed for painting and renovations since last Monday. The were scheduled to reopen today, the 11th, but, thankfully, I noticed their triumphant Facebook update on Saturday evening: "First Ave is opening a day early!!! We will be open tomorrow with regular hours. Big thanks to our staff and all of you who volunteered. The place looks amazing."

Problem solved. We got to climb on the freshly painted, textured walls & all new problems! We also made a stop at the mall, which was unsuccessful for me, but Aaron got a shirt from Lululemon. I guess all my raving about their awesomeness finally rubbed off on him. I still can't get him to come with me to yoga class, though.

We ate Mellow Mushroom & grabbed some Cheesecake Factory for the road home …away from civilization.

As long as the weather holds, and we find someplace for our monster to stay overnight, we will be heading to this event next Saturday. Stay tuned to hear all about it….