Saturday, September 21, 2013


via flickr

I found the quote above awhile ago and just thought YES.  This describes what I have been going through.  Here's the thing--I hate change.  Always have.  I always have trouble with it.  Yet, I chose a life that would require me to go through major changes.  Maybe not forever.  Hopefully not forever.  But for the early part of our professional careers. 

If I had my choice, I would be living in Indianapolis.  I have positive things to say about every place I have ever lived, but Indy was home.  A big city that didn't feel like a big city.  An hour from my parents.  An hour from my favorite school with my favorite sports.  My favorite professional sports team minutes away.  Good shopping.  Good restaurants.  Good schools.  Good friends.  I will never live there again.  At least not that we can see.  There aren't programs/jobs for Ben there.  I knew that when I moved from Indianapolis to South Carolina.  I knew when we decided that he would pursue his Ph.D at Clemson instead of Purdue like we had originally thought that I might never have the opportunity to live in Indiana again.  It was hard.  Unbelievably hard.  But it was the right choice, and I wouldn't even think twice if asked to make it again.

A year ago, we made another huge change.  We moved to Missouri.  It was a great opportunity.  It is a wonderful college town.  It is in the Midwest (I wanted midwest or southeast) so we can still drive to see family/friends and not always have to fly.  I like it here a lot.  But this year has been hard.  I am naturally a moody person, and this change has made me more so.  Some days I'm so happy to be here.  I do truly really like it here.  Other days I'm quite down.  I don't have many friends.  I have a few who I am truly grateful to have, but it's hard to make friends as an adult.  We underestimated the amount of time and work that Ben would have as a new professor.  Because of that, some of the plans we had made and the things we thought we would be able to be doing, we're not.  It's another change for someone who is a planner and is having my plans messed with. Grr... Just a note, if you ever decide to marry someone who will be a new research I university professor, know the first few years will be BUSY and hard.  The work is more than it was with the Ph.D., and that was just unexpected.  I like knowing what to expect.  Don't get me wrong, he loves it.  It is a wonderful position, but it's just time consuming at the beginning.  And it factors into my ability to deal with change. 

I know this is natural.  I have been through a big move before.  It takes time.  I'm lucky that I do feel like this could be my long-term home.  I will meet people as time goes on.  Ben's job will get less time consuming.  We'll be able to make plans.  There is so much good to come and good here.  So I proceed knowing this and doing things that will build our life here.  I will proceed as Erica Jong said:

"I have accepted fear as a part of life--specifically the fear of change...I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back."

Because good lies ahead.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kickoff Week: Veggie Wraps

Half of the fun of tailgating is snacking on delicious food all day.  My mom is a master tailgater.  She has all kinds of recipes and pairs them all well.  For the cold games there's always at least one soup.  If I'm at the tailgate, there's always my favorite cookie--the peanut butter ones with a Hershey kiss on top.  Today though I'm talking about those cute little things up above--veggie wraps.  I love having these at tailgates because they are bite size, yummy, and actually not too bad for you.  I know, health really isn't on the mind when tailgating, but with these, you don't have to feel bad about eating them all day.

So here's what you need:
  • 1 large broccoli crown
  • 1 jalapeno--diced
  • 5 green onions--diced
  • 1 red pepper--diced
  • 1 yellow pepper--diced
  • shredded cheese (your choice, I use a mix)
  • Soft tortillas (I'm partial to the Mission Carb Balance ones)
  • Italian dressing dry package
  • 16 oz. cream cheese (I'll normally do low-fat)
Basically once you get everything chopped up, it's super easy.  Make sure any liquid is drained from the vegetables. 

Mix the cream cheese and dressing and then slowly add in vegetables. 

Then you spread the mixture on the tortilla.  Make it about 1/4 inch thick, but after you make it once, you can just do it to taste.  Once the mixture is on the tortilla, sprinkle it with the shredded cheese.
Then you want to roll it up tightly.  It can get a little messy because the cream cheese will want to squeeze out. 
Afterwards, you can wrap it in saran wrap or not.  My mom wraps it, but I don't.  I didn't feel like it made a difference.  You then want to refrigerate the rolls for awhile until firm.  Often I prepare this the night before, and let them refrigerate over night.  You can really do it for as long as you want.  Once you're ready to take it out of the fridge, slice them.  The longer in the fridge, the easier it is to slice.  Then EAT, enjoy the day, and yell for your team!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tailgating Culture

Tailgating at Clemson
When Stephanie, of one of my absolute new favorite blogs Newlyweds: North, announced this link-up, I knew I had to participate.  Even though I've never done a link-up. Even though my home computer has decided it can't turn on. (I'm currently writing this in safe mode so we'll see what happens.) The only real issue was what in heaven's name would I write about for just ONE post.  See here's the thing.  I am a sports fan as previously noted.  I looove college football.  I love more than one Division I college football team.  Do I write about one of the schools?  Do I post recipes?  Do I reminisce about some legendary games?  Do I just do a photo dump?  Do I post about my favorite tailgating traditions?  Well maybe I'll eventually do all of these.  However, today I'm going to talk about tailgating culture.

I became a college football fan in the great state of Indiana with the greatest conference there is. (Nothing you can say will change my mind about that so don't even try SEC fans. It's Big Ten all the way.)  Here's the thing though.  The Midwest is laid back.  It's a meat and potatoes region of the country.  I should probably say a meat and potatoes and corn region really.  In fashion that translates as t-shirts or sweatshirts, tennis shoes or flip-flops, and jeans.  In my 4 (very fine--thanks Drew Brees) years at Purdue in which I attended every home football game, I don't think that uniform varied.  We did start wearing khaki or jean skirts during the ridiculous hot first games, but that's it.  I never thought twice about it. If it said Purdue or was black/gold, it went.  Here's the other thing.  About mid-October in the Midwest, it starts to get cold.  Very cold.  Cute dresses even with boots will not cut it.  They just won't.  Not that the idea ever crossed our minds at the time, but if it did, we would have been nuts to try.  Take a look at this gem and see my proof:

This is my friend Deepti and me at the Purdue/IU game our sophomore year.  We are wearing ski coats, ski hats, and anything we can find over our mouths.  (Mine was the Drew Brees towels they passed out.)  The ONLY reason we stayed through that whole game was because once we won, we secured our berth to the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl.  But this post isn't about legendary games. :)  If I had worn a dress, I would have been in the hospital.

Flash forward a few years later.  I moved to the South.  Clemson, South Carolina to be exact.  I brought my love of college football with me, and it could not have been brought to a better place.  Clemson is a FOOTBALL TOWN. It did not take long for some orange to seep into my blood.  However, I had culture shock.  The first time I visited Ben to go to a game, girls were wearing dresses (cute, orange ones) and HEELS.  I still have trouble with the heels thing.  How could you stand in heels through an entire game?  How could you tailgate in grass in heels?  The truth is that I still don't know.  I didn't think I would ever fit in.  However, after 5 years of living there, tailgating, and attending games, the dresses grew on me.  Girls looked cute AND were spirited.  I stopped really seeing heels.  Cute sandals and boots ruled the day.  It doesn't get super cold so boots and long sleeves were enough for later games.  The culture of football in the South is just different.  It is one that to a certain extent I adore.  Everything on Saturday revolves around the game.  There is nothing like seeing the sea of orange in Death Valley with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.  There is so much excitement when the players get off the bus to run down the hill.  At that point, t-shirt or dress doesn't matter.  It's the game that does.

Last year I moved to Missouri, a Midwestern school that joined a southern league.  I only attended one game last year, but I saw a mix.  I think the culture here has been more of the laid-back, casual one that I was used to in college, but I think there was also some pressure to adopt some of the southern, dressier football culture. It's interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that culture develops here.  In the end though, cute dresses in school colors or jeans and t-shirts bearing your school's name, as long as you enjoy the day and support your school, the fashion works. 

I'm going to try to do one recipe post tomorrow too, but we'll see. Thanks for a link-up on one of my favorite topics Stephanie!  Now for the photo dump.

Sea of orange

In the south, you can watch the game from the tailgate.

Watching the game from a tree--he's a Forestry professor so what can you do.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The 4th

You can probably tell by that picture that my 4th of July was good.  I just do not get to see them enough.  We arrived in Indiana mid-afternoon on the 4th and just basically had a great day spending time with my family.  We did sparklers, grilled out (love when the parents splurge for steaks), and watched the fireworks over the lake. The rest of the weekend we had lunch with Ben's parents and sister, hit up the outlet mall, had a great full day cook out with my extended family, and soaked up as much time with those kiddos as possible. Unfortunately after the first night our camera battery died so we don't have a lot of pictures.  I don't have any of my youngest niece, Sofina, because she was going to bed before I broke out the camera.  Don't worry, I'll include an i-phone pic here.  And without further ado, I give you....way too many pictures of one day!

Sparklers and some fireworks

She took the sparklers very seriously

But she liked them

Always on the move

Teddy liked crawling under chairs and under legs

NOTHING in the bottle.  Just a 15 month old teething who only wants what you have.
My girl


And Instagram...


Yeah I really need to be able to see these people more often.  Also, there's only more pictures of Ellana because she is the easiest to get pictures of right now.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


This weekend Ben and I are packing up the car and heading back to Indiana for a much needed rendezvous with my family.  In honor of my almost irrational excitement, I thought I would do a small tribute to those two characters with me up above.

Growing up, all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins lived in the same state as us.  We got together all the time for events.  4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day...all the day holidays.  And it was grand. I always thought that as an adult, this would be the same.  Not only would I get together with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, but my siblings and I would see each other all the time as well.  Unfortunately, life happens, and this isn't the case.  We live in 3 different states no where really near one another.  So any time we can get together, it really is a cause for excitement.  This 4th, we're all congregating in our hometown for the long weekend, and Saturday, all my aunts, uncles, and cousins are coming in for a big ol' fashioned cook-out.  And I.  Can't. Wait.
Yeah, we're Purdue fans.  The best kind of fan you'll find.

My brother and his family live in Florida.  Land of warm weather which my sister-in-law would die without.  He is 2.5 years older than me. The best way to describe Steve is as an overachiever.  He's a neurosurgeon.  Who has a master's degree in public health.  Who travels to Africa to do surgeries and help.  Who lived in Kenya for 6 months.  Who was one of the outstanding alumni for his school at Purdue.  (Of course my siblings and I all went to Purdue...come on.)  Growing up, Steve was always like that.  He was popular.  He graduated 3rd in his class.  He was the star of the school musical.  He was the captain of the soccer team and started varsity since his freshman year.  He dated great people.  That's just how he was.  Because of this, I always did more.  I had to try to live up to his example, and it made me join more and BE MORE.  I'm grateful for that.

Cami and her family live in Pennsylvania.  I called her Cam the Ham as a child because she was so outgoing.  I was shy, and she was the baby of the family with the dimples who charmed EVERYONE.  She was always pushing me because I felt like I had to stay ahead of her.  Wait, Cami might be about to do a back handspring at cheerleading?  I better get my back tuck.  Cami's about to get her license?  I better hurry up and get on it first (I was a bit slow there.)  Between trying to catch up with Steve and "stay ahead" of Cami, I really had some motivation to get things done.  I had to because I was never going to catch up to her in personality, cuteness, and generally likeability.  Luckily I've lost a bit of that along the way.  I can rejoice with her victories and life events and not feel like I need to catch up.  I can be proud of Steve's accomplishments and not wonder how I'm going to match it.  No one can or has ever made me as mad as Cami.  She was both my best friend and my worst enemy.  I think that's what you call sisters.  Now, she is one of my closest friends.  She never fails to send me cute videos/pictures of my nephew, answers my questions about design and how to paint things, gives the best book recommendations, texts with me throughout the Golden Globes and Academy Awards red carpet and show, and understands and shares my love of British history.  We got married the same summer and plan to travel to Great Britain the summer of our 10th anniversaries to visit the sites we love so much.  Don't worry, our husbands know this plan and are okay with it.  They will be able to entertain each other at the pubs when they get bored of our sites.
Andrew, Ben, and Jenny.  We are lucky to have them.
Probably one of the best things about my siblings are the people they chose to marry.  I love Jenny and Andrew and could not have picked better people to marry my siblings and into our family.  Some day they both deserve their own tribute. 
The last time I saw them.  6 months ago.
The absolute best thing about my siblings are the fact that they have made me an aunt, and it's pretty much my favorite thing ever.  Steve and Jenny have two girls (one is my goddaughter), and Cami and Andrew have a little boy.  After the 4th, I know I'll be back here posting more of their cute faces.  All in all, I think this makes my excitement for the weekend more than rational really!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our first home

The realtor's picture*

Ben and I bought a house!  We have lived in 3 different houses together, but this is our first home that we actually own.  We actually closed on May 31st which was a Friday.  Exactly one year earlier, we were arriving in Columbia to start our one weekend house search.  So technically we looked for a year.  When Ben was offered the job here, he accepted (I feel weird saying we accepted since it was his job, but he obviously made that decision with me), and I had never even been to the town.  Talk about a leap of faith.  And I'm picky!  Anyway, so the university flew us out for a weekend to look for a place to live before we moved at the end of July.  We did two solid days of house hunting, and I just wasn't comfortable buying anything.  Everything just felt so foreign, and I wasn't truly excited about any of the houses.  I also do not rush into decisions lightly so in retrospect I don't know why we expected to buy a house in one weekend.  Luckily, a friend of mine from Chicago has parents who owned a home in Columbia, and it just happened to be for rent.  It could not have worked out better for us.  Plus we got the "friend" no pet waiver so Ollie could live with us. Phew.

It's ours!
I checked the real estate sites throughout the year, and we became more comfortable with the town and where we would want to live.  Of course Ben would pick out in the middle of nowhere with acres of land but that wasn't in the budget (or my idea of the perfect local.)   To make a long search short, we went to an open house in April, loved it, and had to put in an offer the next day because there were already two offers!  Ours was chosen and the rest of the closing process went smoothly!
The day we closed.  It was raining.

We moved in last weekend, and I still hurt.  I much preferred having movers come and pack up all our stuff and carry everything.  If only the university paid for more than one move, right?  So far I've painted two rooms, and I'm so happy with the way they turned out.  I'll have to post before and after pictures.  I'll try to post more pictures at some point when I have unpacked (it might be a year or so), and you have to see the backyard/deck.  That was really the selling point.  Well that and the remodeled bathrooms.  Anyway, I'm so happy with it and can't wait to share more...eventually. 

*I'm an Indiana girl so I have to have the basketball goal in the driveway.  Wouldn't feel like home otherwise.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Oh Venice (Part Two)

Venice part two starts half way between day one and two.  In the middle of the night while we were sound asleep in our third story bedroom overlooking that gorgeous view above, we woke to a bizarre feeling of shaking.  I am a deep sleeper once asleep so I don't wake up easily and definitely do not get up voluntarily at that time.  We both woke up, felt ourselves shaking again, and were quite startled.  We looked at each other, silently confirming that the other felt it, and tried to figure out what was happening.  Ben said, "I think we just felt an earthquake!"  I asked what we should do.  We laid there for awhile, didn't feel anything else, didn't hear anyone else up and about, and just went back to sleep.  As I said, it takes a lot for me to get up at that hour.  I feel sorry for my future children.  The next morning at breakfast Ben asked Marco if we really had felt an earthquake, and our experience was confirmed.  There was a huge earthquake in the Milan area, and Venice felt it as well!
My cute husband where we felt the quake.
We started the second actual day with set plans.  We wanted to visit the Doge's Palace and Saint Mark's Basilica.  St. Mark's Basilica is free (yay!), but we did pay the extra 5 euros to go upstairs.  It is well worth it if you are trying to make that decision.  There's much more to see, and you get to see the actual bronze horses which are inside, not outside.  They date back to at least Alexander the Great, and it was a bit surreal to see something that old and amazing.  The bronze horses you can see from the square are replicas.  You aren't allowed to take picture of the real ones though. If you pay the extra money, you also get to go out on the balcony and see the views.  It's basically a great picture opp.  While at the top, we took some pictures for a group of students, and they took our picture in return. In doing so we started talking about where we were from and the usual generalities.  However, it turned out we actually knew people in common!  One girl was dating the younger brother of a really good friend of mine from college, and the other girl went to the same haircutter as Ben did growing up. His mom still goes there and so does the girl, so they got their picture together, and I believe it is now hanging in the salon.  Small world stories are my favorite.

After the historical sites, we just did more wandering.  Venice is made for wandering.  We also tried the first Bellini's of our life.  For dinner, we ate at a restaurant that was one of the many tourist traps out and about in Venice.  We basically knew it going in so no excuses.  I wanted to go back to da Mamo for the second night, but Ben thought we should try somewhere new.  This place had a good deal even though it kind of looked touristy so we went for it.  It was fine, just not memorable.  We should have gone back da Mamo. :)  Yes, I am a creature of habit.  Another highlight was having my first glass of Prosecco.  Prosecco is my sister-in-law, Jenny's, favorite drink, so when in Venice I knew I had to try some or she would kill me.  I have had Prosecco, but it was always mixed with something else.  Anyway, it was delicious.  One of my favorite things to do now once we're back is to add pomegranate seeds to a glass of Prosecco. It is pretty much perfect.  And so ended our second day in Venice. 
The yellow house that always helped us find our way home.

Bronze horse replicas

Doge's Palace

In the Bridge of Sighs

Taking a picture of all the people taking pictures of the Bridge of Sighs.


Me with Prosecco and Ben with beer.  He missed his beers.

All in all, I greatly enjoyed our time in Venice.  It's funny because while there I went through some different emotions.  I was frustrated by the prices and the crowds, but I was also totally awed by the beauty and history.  It wasn't my absolute favorite location on our trip (yes, that was Cinque Terre as I expected), but once home I actually found myself thinking about Venice more than about any other place we visited.  It just had a magical and majestic quality, and I really hope I will get the opportunity to go back someday.