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?