Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I know, I know...

It's been a while. In the last month and a-half I finished writing my master's thesis, flew to the lovely, grey Michigan to defend it (successfully, I might add!!), spent two weeks with my friends and family in the Midwest, then came back here and crashed into bed/couch (spending copious amounts of time on pinterest). PLUS, in my naive ambition, I decided to make most of my holiday gifts myself... so I'm still frantically knitting/jamming/baking/slicing/packing-up my days away. Honestly, I love every minute of it.
Which brings me to the planning portion of the season... Daniel and I are staying in Mobile for our first Christmas alone, and our first Christmas on the Gulf. So far, it's been wonderful. In an attempt to start our own traditions, we are cooking a super-duper, 5 course meal for Christmas Eve (both of our families do the big meal on the 24th), opening gifts at midnight (like in Peru), and doing stockings and a lovely breakfast Christmas morning (like my family does). The big thing for me, of course, is planning the menu! Here's what I'm thinking...
  1. Green salad w/ roasted pecans
  2. Oyster Stew w/ soda bread - white burgundy or champagne
  3. Fennel stuffed pork loin, roasted onions, cranberry-balsamic sauce, mashed potatoes (D's favorite) - beaujolais
  4. Cheese (from the local Elberta farm) and homemade crackers - port
  5. Panettone and biscotti w/ hot cocoa and rum
Um, yeah, that's a LOT of food, but I think we can handle it... plus this will be spread over several hours. Oh, and I haven't even thought about breakfast the next morning! Any suggestions???

Sunday, October 23, 2011

so many words

Photo by Hal Moran featured in Catapult Magazine Vol. 10 #18

ooooo boy... writing my thesis is taking up all my words (and brain space). Well, almost all... in response to the new Alabama law on immigration I wrote a small piece for my friends' online magazine, Catapult. There are much more informed opinions out there (and much less informed - don't have to search hard to find those, unfortunately), but my two-cents is in the mix now.
You can read it here if you are so inclined.
While I did manage to sneak-in a quote from a source in my thesis, it does not really count towards the mountain of writing I still have to do, so, I'm jumping back into it. Peace out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On thrift

Daniel and I have gone from two paychecks to one in the last month. This is not as easy of thing as I thought. Granted, we do not have children  - just two needy dogs. And we've dropped some major expenses (like my twice/thrice weekly commute to Kalamazoo - oh the gas I burned, not to mention the Biggby's and Subway pit stops). But counting our pennies and really thinking about what we need versus what we want feels somehow new.
It's not that we were particularly big spenders before - in fact, we were able to save very well. But with family in another hemisphere, graduate school, and home ownership responsibilities, those savings were tapped then replenished more often that I'd like to think. And our "wants" generally meant decent wine, brunch at our favorite vegetarian cafe (Gaia), or seeing a movie at the cheap theater. It's easy to justify those because they're not caviar and cashmere, but they're still not essential, right?
So, in an effort to inspire myself and get some tips on how to really get the most out of our financial blessings, I grabbed this book off my new library's shelf (along with a couple really unremarkable ones). It's called Be Thrifty, and it's written in such a funny, light-hearted tone I found I was delighted to read it, and it's been super useful and practical... stuff like instructions on cutting hair and how to care for the items you own, plus great tips for go-to "workhorse" ingredients.

I've been thinking a lot about how the stories we hear/read and tell ourselves affect how we think about our own entitlements or decisions. As I've been reading more stories about people who look to be content with what they have and seek to be free above all else, I find myself (with joy!) thinking less about what I want materially and more about what I have to give and the shape my life can take. And thrift looks different for everyone (i.e. The Sartorialist recently was struck by the novel idea of paying someone to do your laundry - the newness is DOING laundry is the thing here, not farming it out... I'm trying to withhold judgment as best I can; everyone's gotta start somewhere!). So in the name of thrift... I cannot wait to take a few of my favorite pairs of shoes to this local find (found via my new friend's biking blog)...

photos via British Vogue, Whole Living, and Southern Spokes

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Just Kids

This week I've been feeling ill most of the time. Have you ever had a time when you were stressed beyond belief and everything was just so intense - but you handled it just fine - and then as soon as things settled down and you could rest, you crashed? I think that happened to me this week. I've slept an unbelievable amount of the time away, and I'm still tired! But I'm slowly starting to feel back like myself.

Before my personal-crash, I found our public library. So during all my down-time, I got completely wrapped into the world of Patti Smith and Robert Maplethorp in Smith's book, Just Kids. It'd been on my reading list for a while but knowing very little of Patti or her music, I didn't expect to connect with it as much as I did. The thing about Patti's story is that she discovered herself while strongly holding to her ideas of what's good. Most American stories we tell and retell seem to start out with like an empty stage or field, or a building or office... some very visible goal post where the story teller says, that's going to be mine someday. And then the rest of the story is about how he/she gets there. And those stories can be great, but I've never connected with them personally. Patti's story is one of wandering and discovery and chance friendships that change her life and direct her energies, all while she holds to her desire to create and find freedom and life wherever she goes.

Reading this was a great reminder to me that in this world, it takes all kinds, including my kind. I've never been very accomplished at the single-mindedness that those very American success stories requires. I love to hear those stories, especially from the people I love. And I love to work hard and make an effort in something I care about. But to get there - I like to see where the wind blows me. I like to meet the people with whom I cross paths - I learn the most from the people I wouldn't always choose or seek after if I had to make a list or something. I love exploring new abilities and interests while developing deeply into what I already know that I like. And it's wonderful to hear a story of a kindred-spirit.
via rock and roll hall of fame

via Gawker

Sunday, September 04, 2011

raining cats and dogs

Well, Hurrican Lee in Mobile has just meant rain like you wouldn't believe. It's really lovely, actually, albeit, completely wet... everything that's not shut tight away behind closed doors is completely soaked. It's like there's so much water in the atmosphere, being sheltered out of the rain does not really make much of a difference; outside = sopping. I am happy to be safe in our home with the pups and Daniel.

All this humidity, combined with slightly harder water maybe (?), has done a number on my hair though. What a silly thing to worry about, right? But all things considered, not having a clue as to what's going on with my hair is unsettling. In Michigan, my hair was reliably super dry, but with the right moisturizer, it was so so so easy to just let it fall where it would. All of a sudden, now, it's dry in patches, oily in others, and altogether limp. It won't get curly; it won't be straight. Curling irons are no weapon against this humidity, believe me.

So far, in my mind at least, my possible solutions include good moisturizer from the middle to the roots and then curlers overnight. That or chopping it super short again (although this is a risky solution because short hair can be tricky too). Another solution is to try and do the whole up-do thing... my inspriation...
Any tips on how to solve my teeny tiny problem??

Monday, August 29, 2011

a few pictures

Have you ever seen the Jim Carrey movie "Yes Man"? Zoey Deschanel plays this character who leads a running/picture-taking group; I feel like I should start a biking/picture taking group here because I keep trying to snap pictures while biking (with varying success). Here are a few pics from two-wheels...
This is a house on my street with incredible terracotta roof tiles and huge windows. (I felt like a total creeper taking the picture)

And here are some outside pictures of our house! The heat and bugs have kept us away from using the porch much, but come October, I hear it's the place to be in the evenings.

Everything is different here - even the kind of grass in people's yards; it's kinda scraggly. I mowed ours last week and got a nest of fire ants blown all over my ankles - I forgot about those! In Georgia, as kids my brother and I knew better than to mess with ants but in Michigan there's only little brown ones that are harmless. Red ants are bad and dangerous. Now I won't forget it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


our bikes waiting for us outside of Callaghan's

In preparing to move to Mobile, as you can imagine, I was so curious about our new home. I started trolling the internet for what life is like in this far away place, and wondered if we would find things that we already like along with the new-found joys. And you know, I found so much! This is a place with no shortage of things to do, especially now that we don't have 6 months of sub-zero cold! Hooray! So, as a 5th year anniversary gift, Daniel and I bought each other really nice bikes, and in order to make sure we could use them well, I searched for what biking in Mobile is like. Lucky for me, I found a facebook group called "Mobilians On Bikes" or MOB, and this group chimed in with helpful suggestions for biking around the city (even things like, "wait til October to ride!" ...well, I didn't say I was following all their advice). Even better: they organize group rides. Last night, we became MOBsters and participated in a sweet group ride all around downtown that stopped at the 4 pubs that have bike racks.

What an amazing way to get to know this new place, right?! After pub #3 I was especially glad to be on a bike even if the ride was getting a little wobbly - between the heat, the exercise, and the libations I think I'm going to have to take serious water bottles on future MOB rides. The folks we met are friendly and interesting; the city is lovely (albeit, still humid at 11 PM); I discovered some great, fairly local microbrews like Sweet Water 420 and Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan at super cool local places like OK Bicycle Shop that is still a functioning bike shop while being a bar/restaurant; all in all - being a Mobilian on her bike (learning to hydrate like it's my job) totally exceeds my expectations. We ended the evening at our new friends - Todd's and Karen's (the super stylish riders with their balloons, high heels, and hat) - beautiful midtown house that is full of of artwork and mirrored walls (very cool!) over one last drink that we savored together until the wee hours of the morning.

Friday, August 19, 2011

this week's mantra

via Jackie's pinterest, via this blog

Thursday, August 18, 2011

blurry days

I finally found my camera! So, from now on... pictures! Until I take some to share, here are a few places I've explored in Mobile...
pretended like I could afford to even look at in this amazing store (looking is free, right?)
wandered here for like 2 hours today. I'm in antique heaven, I tell you.
enjoyed the catch-of-the-day at Queen G's. Honestly, might be the best meal I've had here yet. I could have eaten straight-up a whole platter of the brown butter green beans.
visited (my super nice) Winn Dixie about a dozen times already.

On the docket: Daniel and I joined this Mobile On Bikes fb group, and we're going on a ride this Saturday evening where we ride to 3 sweet bars/restaurants with the group. Today Daniel's new colleagues, one of whom founded said fb biking group!, invited me to their potluck and the table was full of shepherd's pie, enchiladas, salads, stewed okra, ceviche (my contribution), deviled eggs... even better than the food, these folks are wonderful and laid back people; I'm really excited for him to have such good people surrounding him every day.

Little things are falling into place bit by bit. We FINALLY got our washer and dryer and our hot water turned-on so we have clean laundry and hot showers (truth be told: the lukewarm showers were actually so refreshing, I may not give them up entirely). I can now get to several places without obsessively pouring over the map before setting out. Every evening I've been biking our neighborhood; I'm in awe at how different and beautiful this place is. Okay okay, pictures are coming!

Monday, August 15, 2011

new and Southern

I've not used this space much at all in the past year or so, and since everything else in my life is changing, why not change-up this space too? The web address is now www.erinoconnorgarcia.blogspot.com.
I've not gotten true internet up and running at our house yet so this will be a slow start, but here's a little list of all that's new with us... it makes me tired just thinking of all of this! But it's good stuff at the end of the day - even if that day is ending in a different time zone than I'm used to.
  • Moved from Grand Rapids, MI to Mobile, AL one week ago
  • New (rental) house in Midtown Mobile
  • Additional dog in the family as of a month(ish) ago - ZuZu Petals is her name!
  • New school/classes for Daniel to teach
  • Thesis work for me (due this fall)
  • Ph.D. programs to apply to (for me)
  • Trying to rent out our home in GR
  • Daniel finishing the film he just shot in June to send to festivals
  • Buying outfits for said festivals  Getting a part time job (for me)
Oh, the details that come with moving are endless and impossible to get done efficiently! So I will wade through them every day until we are settled. And as soon as I unpack my camera, pictures will ensue. Consequently, the photo above is NOT of our new home (dream on, Erin), but a place called "avenue of the oaks" on Daniel's new campus.