Friday, June 28, 2013


Bonus lists for you lovely people on this lovely Friday. Just things that have been on my mind...

•Dexter season 7
•Unseasonable pumpkin
•Mexican food
•Laughing (I just laughed a lot this week)
•bahama mama (nail polish, not the drink!)

kayak and hike at Beaver Creek
•climb at Wolf Rock (THIS WEEKEND!)
•hike at Crater Lake
•see the sand dunes in Florence
•ironically enjoy the Enchanted Forest amusement park
•hike South Sister (August)
•visit Mt. Rainier
•visit Mt. St. Helens
•visit Olympic National Park
•boulder at Leavenworth, WA
•be touristy in Seattle
•move into our new house in Corvallis! (late July/August)

•Ten Sleep, Wyoming (climbing)
•The last three states I haven't been to: Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont
•Niagraa falls
•Vancouver ...and drive across western Canada
•Prince Edward Island
•More national Parks ...especially Acadia
•Brazil for the 2014 World Cup
•Australia & New Zealand
•India (preferably for a yoga retreat)
•Hong Kong
•Norway - where my ancestors came from
•Major cities in Sweden, Finland & Denmark
•South of France / Fountainbeau
•Greek islands
•Croatian beaches
•Egypt - the pyramids
•South Africa - Rocklands
•Disney ...any park. Somehow I just missed doing this as a kid.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Author's note: I'm sorry that this is my first post of the week. Last weekend was nice! Spent with my friend Rebekah, but I didn't take many pictures. Most of my weekday pictures come from fun recipes, but it's been a week of leftovers and lacking innovation in the food department. But that's OK too. Last night we had roasted broccoli and potatoes, which are always delicious and simple, and even though this post might sound a little sad, I'm actually REALLY, REALLY happy. So happy that I have to find things like this to complain about, on, or not.

Homesickness is a feeling that sneaks up on me too often these days. It washes over me and then settles with a prickle in my eyes and forces a downturned smile, the same one I tease my dad for making all the time.

It's 100 degrees today in Arkansas for the first time this summer, and I'm thousands of miles away wearing leggings under my dress. Everyone in my office is complaining about the air conditioner being out in our building. I'm still cold at my desk. I never minded the heat back home too much, and I liked the way the humidity felt like the air was giving you a hug.

I was talking about the air conditioner problem with a coworker earlier. She's a transplant from Atlanta and maintains a slight drawl. I told her about one of my favorite feelings: Leaving a freezing cold, air conditioned building and hopping into a car that's been baking in the sun for hours; then turning on the air conditioner and slowly cooling off again.

She and a few other coworkers looked at me like I was crazy. The enjoyment of this feeling is not a Southern "thing". It's just something I like. Aaron understands it, and he likes it too, and I guess that's why I married him. I can't even further explain what I like about this feeling, I just do, so I don't think I should have to.

A few hours later, I had the office all to myself, and decided some blast some Maylene [and the Sons of Disaster], which is a Southern metal band from Birmingham that Aaron introduced me to. Their song 'Raised by the Tide' knocked me over (even though I don't appreciate the reference to Alabama sports...): I've covered this country far and wide ... BUT I'LL ALWAYS BE A SON OF THE SOUTH ... I'll fight to the death to make our name proud ... Cause I ain't got nothin' to lose!"

I don't know.

I've been craving Mexican food lately. I'm not sure if that was a subconscious kind of homesickness or not. This morning Aaron and I were talking about our expectations. I said I thought our first Mexican food experience in Oregon would be good because, well, there are a lot of Mexicans here. But, then again, maybe not, because Mexican food, in my experience is a little like sushi. When you eat sushi, the quality decreases the further you get from the coast. Same with Mexican food and the South.

I at least know that when we go out for Mexican here, I will have to ask for chips and salsa, and cheese dip won't even be on the menu. And that kind of brings back the prickling feeling in my eyes again. Stupid...

The thing is, I love it out here.

But I still want to die on Petit Jean. I'll be surprised if that ever changes.

For a story I'm working on, I'm talking to a lot of writers about what having a "sense of place" means. I'm going to eastern Oregon in a couple of weeks to talk about "writing in the West," which I guess is what I'm doing now, but really all I can think about is summer in the South...

Weeks at the lake house with my cousins
Fishing & not wanting to get into Lake Catherine
Cheerleading camp in Fayetteville in gyms with no AC
Sleeping on the futon on the porch
Sitting at the computer all day, writing, with Crystal Light & Lipton pasta
Nighttime drives with my dad in his old Camero
Outdoor pools...the smell of chlorine
Drinking on the river in 100 degree heat
The Maumelle River pullouts on Highway 10
The levee in Riverdale
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch
Driving down Cantrell hill with all my windows down
Heber Springs, Sugar Loaf, Sandy Beach, Greers Ferry
Seeing oil rise off the pavement in traffic on I-30 toward Dallas

...That's all I got...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mostly pizza

last week's pizza | roast chicken | garlic bread that went with a delicious veggie soup | giant pot of veggie chilli | this week's pizza

(not pictured: tomatoes stuffed with quinoa & corn)

Can you tell we eat a lot of pizza? Last week's was kind of a margherita deal with yellow onions ...because caramelized yellow onions are my jam right now. This week was a recreation of something that is apparently a very authentic Italian combination, but that I first had at my favorite pizza place back home: Feta, Potato and Rosemary. It was a pretty good recreation if I do say so myself. I have my dough recipe down, and I recently rewatched Laura form her pizza dough, which is why this week's pizza was especially round and well, just perfect looking if I do say so myself.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Five

•The Babysitters Club on Netflix
•"Don't stop till we hit the ocean!"
•My new Outdoor Research rain jacket
•The Head & the Heart

Thursday, June 20, 2013

TBT: Commencement

Thought I was done writing about last weekend already? Nope! Saturday morning before our adventure started, I got to spend the morning "working" at commencement. I got to see a lot of the fun traditions this school has and go down on the football field for the first time!

It made me remember my own commencement, which I chronicled on LiveJournal ...oh, LiveJournal.

What I remember and appreciate most about that day is my family being there. Not just my parents, but all of my aunts & uncles on my Mom's side ...and my Dad's sister Donna - who surprised me on the morning of my graduation with a phone call telling me she would be there form Iowa later in the day!

I remember how long commencement felt. Even though my university held graduates for specific colleges & schools, my program, media convergence, was the first to walk... Then, we had to sit through photo journalism, newspaper, broadcast, etc...

It was really a day full of waiting. I insisted on going to the winery for dinner - which cost my parents more than all of my graduation gifts combined on top of the two-hour wait. I think it was worth it, though. You only graduate from college once. And my degree cost me three very full years of sleep and normal meals and sanity, basically. Of course, it was also a blast, but it definitely deserved to be celebrated.

I wonder what all of these graduates took away from their day... I wonder if they had expensive dinners and spent time with family. I wonder if they felt as relieved as I did. Or scared. Who knows.

Oh yeah, and at the end of my graduation day, I realized that I left my keys in my house, so I spent the night with friends. The next morning my dad had to help me break in. Memories.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I'v been wanting to try this for FOREVER, and lucky for me, my place of employment has very cheap options for gear rentals. This was our first time taking advantage of that program. We got inflatable kayaks and everything we needed for a day of paddling on a big creek near the coast.

The boats were cumbersome, and we took no phones or GPS devices, so all I know is that we paddled pretty hard on still water for 3.5 hours. And then we were wiped out!

Kayaking is on my outdoor-hobby wish list now for sure. I can't wait to go again!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Camping on the Coast

This weekend we camped near the coast. In the nicest campground I'd ever seen. The bathrooms were like a palace! They took credit cards for reservations & firewood (which is necessary, because one night cost $20 - the most I've ever paid to camp!) Usually we find free camping near where we climb this was a whole new experience.

The campground was busy, and we noticed many of our neighbors down at the beach...

Aaron drew me this message in the sand. Awwww. We talked about how going to the coast feels like a mini-vacation, and since we've been on so many adventures in the past two months, it's like we're on a perpetual honeymoon. I hope we can hang onto that feeling for a long time.

I didn't end up writing a whole blog about Aaron's birthday present ...but I got him a camper shell, which is now sufficiently sticker'd.

And I wasn't too much help setting up camp. I got stuck in this tree. Meow.

We ate our Thai leftovers form earlier in the day (the best way to camp), and made a gigantic fire and fell asleep.

And that was one of my best days lately...

Monday, June 17, 2013


Or should I say "hike" ...because we can't go on one without getting lost...but we did see some interesting sights this past Saturday afternoon.

I think the snakes are following me...

I think I'm always in the best mood when I'm going places I've never been before.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

LAST Weekend

This forest is in my back yard, and this dog is a new good friend. :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Five

1. The Bling Ring
2. gray t-shirt
3. beach-blue nail polish
4. peaches
5. weekend dreaming

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Nancy Jo, this is Alexis Neiers calling."

This is the story of how the Bling Ring, Pretty Wild and Alexis Neiers stole the first half of my week.

I had other blogs planned this week. On Monday, though, I was extremely tired for some reason. I crawled into bed, but couldn't fall asleep. I remembered that I'd downloaded the Bling Ring book onto my kindle earlier that day, so I picked it up.

I hadn't really been planning on reading the book. I've been excited about the film coming out soon because of Emma Watson and Sophia Coppola and I'd been an extremely casual follower of the Bling Ring crime ring back in the day. I didn't really know who Alexis Neiers was or that Pretty Wild existed.

If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about either, this is how I got there....

Nancy Jo Sales wrote a book about the Bling Ring crime ring, heavily featuring Alexis Neiers who was involved with the robberies. Neiers also starred in the 9-episode reality television show Pretty Wild, which follows her from her initial arrest through to her trial and bargain - just before she spent a mere 30 days in jail for her crimes.

Monday: read the book in one sitting and watched episodes 1-3
Tuesday: episodes 3-5
Wednesday: episodes 6-9
Thursday: this blog post...

And, of course, Alexis Neiers and her sister Tess - the stars of the show are absolutely ridiculous. There is crying. There is squeeeee-ing, partying, pole dancing. There is the complete abandoning of an adorable French bulldog. What else do you need, folks?

The answer is nothing...except the film itself. Can't wait

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Farmers' Market Haul Vlog

When I did my Walk in the Rain video, some of you said you liked it, so I've been meaning to make more videos forever. It's weird to do them when Aaron's home...and he's working now, so - perfect timing I guess? I'd love to do some bookish vlogs & replies to tags, etc. For now, this is what you get.

This was with my crappy macbook pro's iSight. And, you can see my dog smelling lettuce at 3:37. ;)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Five

•a sense of place

P.S.: We're sticking around town this weekend, and hopefully having a few fun adventures. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

tbt: Michigan

This is the house I lived in when I was born.

And this is the house I lived in when I went back to that place for three months, four years ago. It was my first little house all on my own.

I revisited that place because my first job - in a time when first jobs were not easy to find - was offered to me there. It was a long, slow, lonely summer. But I learned a lot.

And I revisited a lot of old places, like this playground across the street from my first home with my parents in Oscoda. On the old air force base, which is a retirement community now. I used to swing for hours. I loved the motion and how free I felt there.

The "woods", or little patch of trees behind the playground look smaller now, as things almost always do when you go back to them after lots of time has passed. I remember running through them looking for - and often finding - adventure, even if it was just make believe.

One day, I went on a date with a boy who thought I was pretty to a place called Dinosaur Gardens in a town called Ossineke. Some names of places up there, you can only pronounce well if you're from there.

I don't feel like I'm from there. I was born there by chance. I could have been born in another country or anywhere else in this one... But this is where I started.

I didn't like the boy very much, and he only liked me because he thought I looked like a famous actress and he was getting over a girl he'd been engaged to. After the dinosaurs, we ate Chinese food - the most delicious Chinese food I've still had in my whole life - and we played putt-putt golf and went to see a movie. All of the typical things you're supposed to do on a first (and in that case, only) date.

I worked Sunday-Thursday, and woke up most of those days at 1 p.m. like a zombie. I went to work at the newspaper at 2 p.m., and laid out pages in an outdated version of Quark until dinner time when I drove the short distance back home for dinner, and went back to work until the paper was finished usually by 11:30 or so.

When I came home, I could never sleep. So I watched DVDs from Netflix, played my ukulele, painted pictures and wrote stories. I also cooked, because I was learning to cook. Mostly, every few days I made a casserole or a big one-pot dish that I could keep in the fridge and nibble on until it was gone.

I wore sweatshirts all summer, and drank hot tea and only went to the beach mid-day on days off when the sun was high in the sky. Lake Huron felt big. In some ways, that summer was deflating, but it was also a breath of fresh air in a place I may never go back to.

I'm glad I have these memories now.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wednesday noms

Aaron and I went out to dinner tonight for something we call Wednesdate. This isn't a weekly thing. Whatever day we go out, we just add "date" to the end of it instead of "day", and it makes it sound instantly more special. Today was special, though, because I had a huge surprise for him, which I might write about later....

For now, this is what we've been eating lately besides Yeasty Beasty, which I've dubbed the best pizza in the Willamette Valley. I'll fight anybody who disagrees...

malai kofta • burrito bowls • blueberry muffins

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Five Star Books

It's been a good couple of weeks for reading. I've read across genres, and here are a few of my most-recent favorites!

Mark Haddon. You know him from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which was a book I loved and read in one day. That was also the last book Aaron read over the course of many, many days.

This effort, A Spot of Bother was just as lovely - if not even better. I love family stories. I love big, complicated family stories. This is probably because I'm an only child and can't really relate to them. This story is also centered around an upcoming wedding, and a copy of it was a wedding GIFT from my good friend Mike who has excellent taste in books. I'm so glad he got me this one because I probably wouldn't have read it otherwise, and I loved it.

The characters were great. Very realistic. The story was enchanting, and I love Haddon's voice. This was the first fiction book I read after "nonfiction April", and I was very, very happy with it.

This book is a book of poetry by Luna Miguel called Bluebird and Other Tattoos, and after reading, I really wish that more of her work was translated to English. There's nothing more depressing than reading a talented writer who is younger than me! But I still seriously enjoyed this. The poems are raw and beautiful. They focus on nature and urban life and being 20-something and I loved it.

The Rock Warrior's Way. OK, I'll come right out and say it. This is a self-help book. This is a self-help book and I think it might end up changing my life. I noticed it in the gear shop outside of Smith Rock when we stopped to buy a quickdraw on Sunday on the way home. I skimmed it a bit, and it's all about the mental issues that come with climbing.

My climbing "mental game" is currently terrible. I've been freaked out to lead climb on the glassy holds at Smith. I'm getting so strong in the gym, but my mind won't let me commit to climbing outside. Letting fear stop you is no fun, and I think this book and its "warrior" strategy is my answer.

I read it Sunday night when we got home - in one sitting - and I cried through parts of it. As cheesy as it sounds, I really started to understand the reasoning behind some of my life-long habits and ways of thinking. I've started to understand how much of it comes down to ego, and how that is a bad thing. I'm working on thinking less and acting with love and without judgment as much as I can.

It also talks about the idea of fear, since, to a lot of people (including me) rock climbing is a scary thing to do. But, it's not unsafe, so the fear of doing it is basically irrational. I think every climber, whether they're struggling with their mental game or not, should read this book.

I'm planning on reading some of Carlos Castaneda's work as well, which was heavily referenced here.

Someday, Someday Maybe is an honorable mention. Mostly because it's written by Lauren Graham. She's Lorelai Gilmore, people!!!! I love Gilmore Girls, and my friend Kristen told me that this book was a of course, I downloaded it to my Kindle immediately.

I wasn't thrilled, but it was fun read. The story follows a struggling actress in New York through the ups and downs of auditions and her unraveling personal life. I love a strong, female character WRITTEN by a strong female.

It's worth picking up. Especially if you love Lauren Graham as much as I do.

I'm currently reading The Sun Also Rises because I've decided to read some Faulkner this summer. He's one classic, American author I've skipped over for a long time for no reason. I'll let you know how that goes. Read on, everyone.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Birthday Weekend

We spent another weekend at Smith Rock during which I took too few photos...none at the crag because I left my pretty, new phone in the car.

Here's a SELFIE(!!!1) of me playing with the camera on said, new phone.

Aaron's birthday dinner on Friday night was delicious. Instead of a second dessert, I had a Bailey's & espresso.

On Saturday, after a delicious breakfast with some folks in Monmouth, we left for Smith and ended up in Sisters for lunch. We often torment our dog, probably taking years off of his life. Don't call PETA....

Sunday morning this stowaway tried to come out to the crag with us. Unfortunately, he was taken to safety on the side of the road instead.

And, on our way home, we stopped at a legit lemonade stand. Perfect.