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Originally from Texas, I am a reader, writer, pseudo-gardener, baker, record collecting student working on my Ph.D. in the Midwest.

Thursday, April 28

Once more, with feeling

I rode my bike today. I rode it to campus, then walked it to El Potreo, and then walked/rode it home.

And my goodness but it felt good. 

I learned how to ride a bike at 18. I then rode one about 15 times over the next 5 years.

Bikes don't make any sense to me. I have this theory that we must learn to ride bikes as tiny humans, otherwise our brains take over and tell us that there is no way that two little skinny wheels are supposed to hold us up. It's ridiculous. 

I digress. 

Basically, bike riding kind of scares me. Okay, it really scares me. 

But last night, I realized that gas had gone up yet again, that the husband and I had saved almost $260 from not eating out in April, and that it was ridiculous that I drove to places like the coffee shop, the university, the library -- all within, literally, a two mile radius of my apartment. 

I then realized that we bought this beautiful bike for me and it was just... sitting in a corner. And that was ridiculous.

Then I thought about the fact that I needed a basket and a headlight on the bike for it to be worth riding*. Because, clearly I can't be seen riding with a backpack on or ride during the hours of 6am and 8pm. That's just... well, silly. 

Or, not. 

So, today I rode my bike to campus, then walked it to  El Potreo, and then walked/rode it home.

*I was chewed out today for not having a helmet, so I'm on the hunt for one. Promise. 

Wednesday, April 27

Garden Chronicles - Part 4

The husband and I were given a little piece of earth by our landlady to turn into a garden. We're doing our best at it. To catch up, look at Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here.

So. This weekend we were planning on planting a tree but that didn't really happen. Too much awesomeness to show the family around these parts. 

Instead, we talked to my parents about grass. (Don't go there)

Mainly I complained about the fact that we didn't have any yet and did-we-make-the-wrong-decision-about-seed-should-we-have-done-sod (I ramble when I'm whiny).

See, it had been two weeks since we put the seed down and I was frustrated that we didn't have *anything*. 

My dad trooped out to the garden to take a look. And he pointed this out:

See? Grass! Woo hoo! 

It's impressive (kind of) until you see this:

Not quite so impressive. The dandelions are growing beautifully though! They sure do love the compost. 

Ugh. So, now we're thinking about just putting down sod. We won't need that much, ultimately, and I'm not sure I want to try seed again. 

My mom votes trying seed again and waiting a few more weekends. She said (and my dad agrees) that it was probably just too cold for the grass to really take root. 

Boo. So far the tally is looking toward failing miserably.

Tuesday, April 26

SLR's and a Diana

Well, I haven't shared any more film photos because I'm slightly embarrassed. Basically the story is this. My next two rolls of Diana's were ruined via light pollution. Well, that's not totally true. I got 3 photos out of 24. So, I put the Diana away for a while because she was so mean to me.

And then, when we went down to Texas for the wedding my parents gave me my grandmother's SLRs, and my friend (who was getting married!) gave me hers as well. And they are film to boot. They are all beautiful. 

And oh boy did I use film taking pictures. And then I took said film to be developed.

Only to find out that I had loaded it all incorrectly. And I had no photos.

I know. Insert sheepish grin here. The gentlemen who owns The Photo Shoppe, where I get my film developed very kindly showed me how to appropriately load my film and then, even more kindly, didn't charge me for the "negatives" because they, "don't like to rub salt in wounds."

Did I mention I will have everything developed there for as long as I can?

Needless to say, after ruining 4 rolls of film, I was a little dejected, and the lovely cameras hung out in their respective bags with their respective lenses.

At some point, though, I decided "screw it" and took more photos. Here's some of them:

He likes to pretend he's tough...

Okay, so, I didn't take this one, but I like it.

From the Egg Dying party. I'm not sure why there is a shadow, but whatever. It turned out.

And, of course, Texas! A Diana photo from the wedding trip.

So, film. I really love it.
I love that I have no idea how the heck things are going to turn out.

I love that people aren't posed perfectly and you don't really take a photo more then once. I mean, you might, but I'm defintely not taking 124 photos at one time. 

And, I figure that I will get better as I do more.


Monday, April 25

The Mighty Husband

Tonight, I ended sessions with two of my clients. One who I had been seeing for 21 weeks and the other I had been seeing for 19 weeks. This was cause for sadness and some tears. There's also happiness because I know there will be great things for these folks. However, the sadness was definitely palpable.

So, my husband, who is awesome, brought me a (half priced!) banana split.


So, here's to you husband. You are awesome and loved. 
And appreciated.

Sunday, April 24

Happy Easter and A Prayer

Happy Easter to those who celebrate this holiday! I hope that you have had a joyous, awesome-filled day. 

And, if you don't celebrate Easter, I hope that you had a beautiful Spring Sunday. 

See y'all tomorrow!


Marvelous God,

Today, you have risen! Today, we are humbled and amazed at what You did so very long ago. And today, we celebrate and rejoice in You and in Your gift. 

Lord, we confess that we often forget Your gift. We often forget Your mercy and forget that You sent Christ after us. We confess that we get caught up in the intricacies of life and forget Your love. 

But, Father, we ask that You use this holy day to remind us. To remind us of Your love, and Your kindness, and Your mercy, and Your gentleness. And we ask, Lord, that You will be near those who don't feel celebratory today. We realize that holidays are not always joyous for a thousand reasons, yet we know You are here.

God, we can't thank you enough for Your life. We can't find the words to express Your awesome-ness. But, Lord, we know You hear us when we pray.

Thursday, April 21

Superhero Stength

My friend, Alysondra, is doing all kinds of awesome stuff.

One of these awesome things is defending her Comps tomorrow. What are comps, you wonder? 

Well, at the doctoral level, our comps cover 6 content areas and can run from 100 to 200+ pages. And then, we defend them which means we sit down with our faculty and they ask us questions about what we wrote and why. 

It's a hell of a lot of work and a lot of pressure because it has to be done before you can propose for your dissertation, which, you know, is kind of important. And this is what Alysondra is doing on Friday. 

Now, she has worked her ass off, as you can imagine. And I wanted to give her something to show my support for her amazing-ness. A couple of weeks ago, she popped over and the mister, myself, and Alysondra ate a delicious dinner and drank a lot of wine and started discussing capes. Specifically, Superhero Capes. 
So, I made her one. 

Because, Alysondra is totally a superhero and deserves a cape. 

Hell, we all do.

Wednesday, April 20

Garden Chronicles - Part 3


Because the husband had to take up two, TWO! days of posts, I didn't get to tell you all about the cool stuff that went down in the garden. 

Which, honestly, wasn't a lot. 

Friday it snowed and rained, so it was gross. And Saturday, I spent the day doing statistics and then running to a friend's recital and then running to an awesome egg dyeing party. So, Saturday was a bust in the garden. 

But Sunday, we had a 2.5 hour window to pick up paving stones and put them down. I was up for the challenge... my mister? Not so much. But, because he loves me, he did it.

And that's how we got this:

What do you think?

 I need grass. Desperately. I also need a tree and we need to put in the raised beds. But, it is coming along, don't you think?

Total Cost (so far): $141.00 / $500.00
Renting a Tiller... 31.00
Grass seed... 68.00
Paving Stones... 42.00 ($.99 per stone!!)

Tuesday, April 19

Friday-Monday Birthday

The husband normally requests a birthday week. And while I'm more then happy to oblige, it's difficult to come up with stuff for a whole week. Really.  So, he got a party and a dinner. And my love for the whole week (as opposed to the other 51 weeks in the year). 

The party was a success.

It was so much fun to have so many wonderful people who we love in our home to celebrate both his and Holly's lives.  

We had about 16 people in our apartment all night. A little tight during dinner but nice and spread the rest of the night. We had balloons and bubbles. And cameras. Lots of cameras out.

We sang to the birthday people and they blew out candles on the red velvet I had made. Holly wasn't a fan of the singing (there are some awesome photos) but everyone loved the cake. And I hope their wishes come true! 

It really was awesome. People hung out until about 1. We laughed, wine flowed freely, everyone ate, it was beautiful. 

And then the misters actual birthday came on Monday. I know we had this party, but I wanted to do something for him. 

I bought him a Signed First Edition of his first sci fi book. I gave that to him at 12:01am. I was so excited for to hand it off to him. But I wanted something else to. 

So, I headed over to a site I found a couple of months ago. It's called, Homesick Texan. I had no idea what to cook, and really no time to do it, but I wanted it to be special. So, I made him Armadillo Eggs, Homemade Buttermilk Dressing, Chipotle Chicken, and Potato Casserole.

Some minor changes happened, but it was all still really, really good. And I didn't burn down the house, which is good. I don't have a great track record in the kitchen*. I also bought him a Darth Vader chocolate cake. It had a light saber and everything.

All in all, I think he had a good birthday, and that makes me happy.
*I once burned ground meat. I burned it quite literally black and we had to leave the house because it smelled so awful. Thank goodness for Chinese Food Buffets and friends who find this stuff amusing.

Monday, April 18

Happy Birthday Mister

See this handsome guy? 
That's my husband. 

He's this awesome guy who has great taste in beer, as well as beer morals. 
He sings and dances while doing dishes. 
The first thing he wants to do, after we've been apart all day, is pull me into a bear hug. 
He cleans the bathroom, and I normally only have to ask him once. 
He humors me with my crazy home improvement/craft ideas. (e.g., I sent him a text this morning which read: "I want to pull the cabinets out above the sink so that we can hang a dish rack. The hardest part would be removing tile."
He moved to Nebraska so that I could get my Ph.D. 
He is the best kisser. 
He taught me to eat my vegetables.
He can create a mean stir fry. 

And today is his birthday.

I love you husband! I am so proud to be your wife. Thank you for being so fantastic.

Friday, April 15

Texas BBQ and FedEx

There's just something about Texans and their BBQ. You just can't really split us up, and you can't convince that the BBQ is just as good or better anywhere other then Texas. 

See, for example, tonight there will be a birthday party at my apartment for the husband and for our friend Holly.

They are both April babies. His is on the 18th and hers is on the 24th (which happens to be Easter Sunday 2011, if you're wondering). And, because I love both of them, we had to celebrate with a big party. 

And because it is a special occasion, BBQ must be had. So, I emailed our friend Eddie who creates the most delicious brisket and ribs and sausage. And he mails them to boot. He FedEx'd the deliciousness to us and said it would be here Thursday. So, I rescheduled a couple of meetings and hung out at home waiting for the knock on the back door alerting me that our BBQ had arrived. 

And I waited, and waited, and waited. 

Then my email made it's cheery, "You have a new message!" beep. And I looked at it was from Eddie and something to the effect of: 'FedEx just emailed me and said you weren't there. Just wanted to let you know. You can probably pick it up from the distribution center if you call them.' 

Eff my life. I have been home!! Turns out, the note that I leave on the front door telling delivery guys to come to back was gone. So, I pulled the door tag and called the number and spoke with a lovely woman who said that I could pick up my package between 6 and 8 that evening, and wouldn't I just have a great day! I smiled and said thank you and wiped my hands and headed to school. 

Then, the husband called and we were chatting (this is around 5:30) and I said, "oh, by the way, I'll need you to go get the BBQ tonight." And he groaned, because he's played with FedEx before and they just irked him. 

So, he walked into the front door at 5:56 and started calling FedEx. See, Lincoln is small, but it can literally take you 45 minutes to get from one side of town to the other because there is no way past traffic lights. And he wanted to be sure it would actually be there when he was. 

This resulted in talking with 4 "customer service reps" who all sounded like we were inconveniencing them. Apparently, when the husband called, he was told that the shipping place was only open two hours a day, wouldn't have the package until late that night, and no, they can't contact the drivers. Sorry about your bad luck, should've been home. This took about 45 minutes. 

Finally, he somehow managed to get a hold of a Customer Advocate* named Mary. And she was truly on our side and got all the information we needed calling regional managers and a guy named Joel. She told us what I had been told earlier: The package is waiting happily for us at McCormick Dr until 8pm. And wouldn't you know it, but the husband walked into the warehouse and they knew exactly where the package was and they smiled and told him to have a nice night. 

Phone time: took an hour.
Drive time: 45 minutes. 

If you're counting, this This whole process took almost two hours and really made us decide we would never, ever ship with FedEx. 

But! The brisket, and the ribs, and the sausage are sitting in our refrigerator, ready to be consumed by friends celebrating awesome lives.  

And we now know how much we will put up with to get Texas BBQ.

Wednesday, April 13

Listening to my Heart

I went to the Vagina Monologues a few weeks ago with some friends. At the end of the show, the local belly dancing troupe walked on stage and began dancing. My friend, Stephanie, leaned over to me and said, "I've always wanted to do that." And my heart said, "Me too!" 

See, my heart said that, not my brain. Because occasionally our hearts are much, much more intelligent then our heads are.

I'm that person who goes to bars and watches the bags because others are dancing (assuming I even darken the door of a bar where people dance). I'm just really uncomfortable with my body, I have very little rhythm, and I step on everyone's toes. Poor husband wants to dance with me, but I'm just so awful at it. 

And yet somehow I have found myself in a belly dancing class. I'm still rhythm challenged and I feel so self-conscious during the whole process. But, I'm there. 
I do have to say that I love how my body feels when I'm attempting to move it. And with the hip scarves... it's amazing. I'm not good at it. I struggle to let go. I've found if I don't stand in front of the mirror I do better. And if I try to crawl out of my head, I do way better. 

For now though, I'm happy that I let my heart take the lead and talk me into this class. And I'm so grateful for a friend who joined me on this adventure.

Tuesday, April 12

Life Lessons from a Toothbrush

So, I was going to share with you the new awesome nickname which I have dubbed the husband, so I could stop referring to him as "the husband." But I'm waiting on that because of a dentist visit this morning.

I grew up going to the same dentist from the age of 3 to the age of 21. I went every six months to have my teeth cleaned and checked. And filled in (damn those cavities).Then I moved to Nebraska and was insurance-less. So, no dentist for Miss. Nicole. During Spring Break though, this awesome email landed in my inbox. It said something to the effect of:
I was sold, because I'm that weird kid who *loved* going to the dentist and promptly made my appointment.

I happily talked about my teeth and had x-rays taken. I forgot about my nose stud so there's this awesome weird looking line on my big x-ray now, which is superfluous information (I just wanted to use that word).  And then my dental hygienist (I have so much respect for these people) stuck her hand in my mouth and started cleaning and poking my gums.

Verdict was that I have some slight gingivitis which can happily be cured by regular cleanings (yay!) and more flossing (always).  There's some "decay" (ahem, I blame chocolate) that the dentist believed is just stable and will be watched. I just need to use a special toothpaste. Further, I currently have all of my wisdom teeth and it's recommended that they be removed.

But, the last thing, which was odd, is that I have been diagnosed as an aggressive teeth-brusher. This means that I have literally brushed the gums off of some of my teeth which has left the root exposed. The cure? Be more gentle with my teeth. The gum won't grow back, but I can contain some of the damage.

Now, this was slightly ironic for me. The word which I chose for me this year is gentle.

I haven't really talked about this here, but I picked gentle because I wanted to remind myself that I'm slowly growing. And gentleness is key with me.

I have to be gentle with my thoughts, my actions, the way I speak, the way I move, just the way I am. I have to be kind and tender with myself. I have to be good with good enough and perfectly okay. Or, I'm going to get nowhere.

So, it was amusing, and frustrating, to hear that not only had I been to abrasive and aggressive with myself in my life, I have even been abrasive and aggressive with my teeth. But, it's okay. I can take care of that, by being gentle.

Clearly, gentle is a good word for me. And probably a good word for all of us.

P.S: That necklace up there, that's made by SoShe on Etsy. And you should go buy it. Right now.

Monday, April 11

Garden Part 2

When we last left the garden, we had tilled and planned the path.

So, this Saturday began with me waiting to wake up the husband because I felt bad that he was tired. So, we got about an hour late start. That's okay, though.

We made it out to the local dairy farm and picked up compost. For 40lbs, we paid $5.50. And the husband, who can make friends with a rock, snagged us a tour of the farm. They have an incredible system, and I would suggest seeing it anywhere.

Anyway, we made it back home, but I had to dash off to a study group. I left that study group frustrated and bitter, so I called the husband and asked him to meet me outside. He got sucked into spreading compost and planting seed before the sun went down.

And he was such a great sport about it :)

Since I couldn't handle the tiller last weekend, and I was bitter this, I wanted to really get dirty. So I grabbed the rake and mixed in the compost. I did that for the whole thing.


And then it was time to open the grass. We went back and forth between sod and grass seed. I wanted sod because I wanted the instant gratification. And I was worried that the birds would eat all the seed. But, when we were in the class on Thursday, the husband asked about it and the teacher told us to just rake the seed in and it would be just dandy.

I still wanted instant gratification. The thought of just putting it down and then BAM! we have grass... that is so lovely. But, I talked myself into seed. I argued that if the seed doesn't work then we can do the sod. And if the seed does work, well, it was cheaper then sod.

So, we spread it.

And then raked it.

I can't quite believe that we might actually get grass from this. I really can't. And, I think that gardening will either teach me patience or I'm just going to fail miserably.

Here's to patience!

And then watered it.

Now, the birds better stay away.

Next week, we will be planting our tree (oh the decisions!) and putting down paving stones for the path. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 8

Messy Hospitality

Something which I struggle with is hospitality.

Not necessarily being hospitable. I have that pretty much down to the T.

But, rather thinking that my house has to be in perfect order with candles and smell good stuff and wine and dinner ready whenever someone wants to come by.

If you can't guess, this can be a bit stressful.

Tonight, though, I had a friend who I randomly texted and asked to come over for dinner and wine. I had four bottles of wine and wanted someone to drink them with. And the husband had to cook food anyway, so why not?

I assumed we'd have about 20 minutes, so I could quickly scramble around and get the house put back together since I totally didn't do that this afternoon.

However, about 5 minutes after we walked through the door (Sparkle Bus [the husband's bike] had a flat tire, so our ride was cut short) my dear friend called me and asked where exactly we lived because she was here.

Oh crap. Nothing was ready other than the shoes being stored.

As she walked in the door, I immediately started apologizing for the messiness. And then, something clicked. Yes, my house was messy, but it's messy because I freaking live here. I have a husband, and a cat, I'm working on my Ph.D., my husband works 50 hour weeks... we live here. So why should I apologize for an impromptu dinner?

So, I apologized one last time. And, we chatted, drank two bottles of wine, and ate a lovely dinner.

And the world didn't tumble and crash because my house was real. 

Because my house showed that two fantastic human beings live here with lives and love.

I'm by no means cured of this craziness. But, I do feel better with one non-world-crashing-messy-dinner under my belt.

Wednesday, April 6

Found it!

Remember how last August I wanted a new bicycle? I had some specific requirements:

I needed to fit it (hello 5'1"!)
Needed to have handbrakes
No more than 5 speeds
Please be cute

I had hoped to find this holy grail of bike by mid-August. That didn't happen.

My bike was stolen in March, which meant that if I wanted to ride, I would have to find a new one. The first thought was to just buy another Wal Mart one, but I found myself just being frustrated by that, which meant it was not the way to go. 

Fast forward to April 3rd. Just a couple of months off, but I finally found it on Craigslist.

Tuesday, April 5

Spring! {might be here}

Today, I spent an hour and a half eating lunch with a friend.

On a patio.


In the sun. Soaking up the vitamin D. And a sunburn. Ha!

Which means.... Spring might actually be here.

I think living in a place where it snows and is (litteraly) bitterly cold gives me a new appreciation for Spring. Something that I never would have had if we had only ever lived in Texas.

But! This is not about that, specifically.

This is about dresses. Now that it's spring, it is time for the dresses to make an appearance.

And these are the ones that I want. All from Target because that's about all I can afford:

Seriously! I want these. I stopped by Target to look at something else (which I'll show you tomorrow! woo!) and saw all the lovelies.

I want, I want, I want!

I'll even take donations.

Garden Part 1

I told y'all that we were going to work on the garden this weekend. 

And I actually didn't lie! I figured I was jinxing us by posting about it, but it was a beautiful sunny day. About 60 degrees. Perfect weather. 

Our friend, Anita, has a truck. And she brought herself and her truck to our apartment so that we could rent the tiller we would need. 

We went to our lovely local hardware store and rented it for two hours, since Anita said it would take 30 minutes to do the piece of "land." It's 20x24 and we needed to do the whole thing.

Anita totally rocked the tiller. I think she's done this before.

The husband and Anita were rocking this tilling project.

I could not control that thing. Though I did make an effort. I'm going to blame my height. Yup.

After we finished we bought tortillas and hamburgers and ate enchiladas. 

Then Anita went home and the husband and I laid out the path. 

Next weekend, join us as we pick out sod and a tree to plant. I'm so freaking excited!

Friday, April 1

Renting Convert

For a while, I wanted to own a home. I wanted to buy house so that the husband and I would have something which was ours. When we paid our monthly payment, it wasn't just going to a company. Nor would it feel like we were throwing money out because we would be paying a mortgage, which would mean that in the end we would own something rather than not keeping anything. It's kind of like the difference between leasing a car and buying a car - with one you own it and with the other you have to give it back.

The other reason I wanted to own a home was because I would be allowed to do things to said home and no one could tell me otherwise. I could paint, I could garden, I could put as many holes in the walls as I wanted because it was my own. I could try different things over and over because it's mine and I don't have to get clearance with a landlord.

I also want to say that I hate corporate apartments. They feel sterile. You can't add color and I've found that they are difficult to make them feel homey. No matter how many lamps I bought, I've never felt comfortable in a corporate owned place.

Last year, when we knew we had to find somewhere else to live otherwise we would be homeless, we started hunting Craigslist. That's where apartments are listed here, especially ones downtown. I wanted to find a house to rent, because by God, if I couldn't buy one we would rent one.

The one I wanted fell through. We could never get a hold of the company to show it to us and then it was rented. The next place we looked at I fell in love with. It was teeny apartment, maybe 500sqft, but it had a sense of home and a sense of community. The guy who managed the apartments lived on site and he was just awesome. You could tell he loved his tenants and he cared about the place. He would also allow you to paint and do whatever you wanted. Plus cable was free.

The husband wasn't a fan. It was a very small apartment with an unbelievably small kitchen. It had a mini-stove, and the husband was not going for it. We turned him down. Finally, we decided to contact this place that only ever listed studios hoping we would find something we liked.

The first apartment we saw in this complex was a gorgeous one bedroom, third floor walk up. It had a claw foot tub, stained glass windows, a beautiful murphy bed, a dressing area and best of all a farm sink.

The husband didn't like it.

The next apartment we looked at about a month later was a one bedroom under construction. The only redeeming quality it had was a gigantic kitchen with two sinks and built in booth seating. The husband didn't like that one either. That was okay because I wasn't sold either. As we were leaving, the owner said, "Well, I have another apartment that just opened up. It's a two bedroom first floor. The people who lived there before really didn't take care of it..." We thought, what the hell, and walked with her to go look at it.

Today, I paid month 12 of our rent and we're getting ready to sign a two year lease.

12 months later, I have made that apartment home. We've painted, and hung pictures, wine holders, hooks, and curtains. We've bought a dining room set, found a papasan chair, and built shelves. We've downsized and have learned to cook meals for 10+ people in a galley kitchen. We hung plastic to keep the cold out and used Window ACs to cool us down.

And this weekend, we're going to work on the coolest part yet. We're going to put in a garden.

I can't wait to show y'all.