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My Cup Runneth…

Sometimes I know I’ve been fortunate.

So incredibly fortunate.

I’ve tasted warm, Nutella filled crepes on the rain-chilled streets of Paris.  I’ve rappelled waterfalls in the damp, verdant jungles of Costa Rica.  I’ve seen every color of the rainbow embedded into ethereal rock splayed across the Badlands.   I’ve added 5,500 miles to the Tracker’s odometer in a single trip — marveling at the competing corner coffee shops of Seattle; the craggy, hasselback coastline Oregon; the overhyped sidewalk stars along the grimy streets of Hollywood; the unpretentious grandeur of southwestern deserts;  the popping display of vibrant Fourth of July fireworks that greeted me from the mountains as I entered Colorado Springs, and much, much more.

I’m on the right. Okay… not the most flattering of makeup-less helmeted garb, but whatever. I was waterfall rappelling in Costa Rica, for crying out loud.

I’ve stood in a forest field of lemon-yellow buttercups in Switzerland, I think.  I’ve spelunked the depths of a guano-filled cave in the mountains of Georgia.  I’ve danced in a club in Ibiza while the floor filled with water.  I’ve jumped from a plane over the sun-dappled island of Oahu.  I’ve bartered with an artist in Malaga for the ugliest drawing I’ve ever seen (story coming soon).  I’ve scuba’d the breathtaking reefs of St. Lucia.  I survived a border crossing to Nicaragua with nary a scratch, and I suffered a thank-God-it-wasn’t-a-brown-recluse spider bite in my own front yard and lived to tell the tale.


Me. Spelunking.

I’ve driven across the Golden Gate, I’ve gazed upon my nation’s capital, I’ve walked on glass over the city of Toronto, I’ve stared in awe at the St. Louis Arch, I’ve seen where le tour de Eiffel touches the ground.

Skydive Hawaii

Sometimes, even in Hawaii, you need to get a little closer to the sun.

Yet somehow, it’s not enough.

It’s never enough.

My experience only reminds me of how much I haven’t yet seen.  How much there is still to see.

And there is a constant battle in my head over where I should concentrate my energy.  I ask myself, why am I spending money on curtains when there are these things to do?  Why are we ordering takeout when we could save to eat REAL food in Thailand?  Why am I still paying these student loans when I could flee the country and live quite comfortably in Central America?  Why did that parking lot car accident just cost us $500 when we should be riding in an Indian rickshaw anyway?

And then Justin looks at me funny because I already made him feel bad about the accident when it wasn’t even his fault, but also because riding in an Indian rickshaw doesn’t hold the same appeal for him as it does for me.

Travel, I think, is in my blood.

And those who are pathogen-free will never understand.

Hell, I don’t understand.

I don’t understand why I’m sitting here, in my office, caught between two worlds.  Travel magazines, and writing books on one side of me, paint samples and curtain packages on the other.

One side. (un-staged.)

The other side.  (un-staged.)

It’s like a snapshot of my brain, scattered across my pristine white desk, each side pulling me in a separate direction every moment of every day.

It’s a very fast way, you see, to go nowhere at all.

Or split in two.

I know.  If that is my problem, then I have it made.

But maybe it’s a metaphor.  A really bad metaphor for the struggle of balancing our real lives — relationships, obligations, jobs, and bills — with the vision we’ve seen for ourselves since childhood.

I’m not sure where I lost sight of mine, but I’m hoping it’s not too late to get it back.

I’m hoping I can balance it with the things I have and love already.

I’m hoping I’m not as crazy as I sound.

Forgive Me Pretty Baby But I Always Take the Long Way Home.

I’m going to be honest.

This was one of those weekends I wish I could do over.

Not because it was so spectacularly awesome, but because I feel it was relatively wasted in its entirety.  Aside from a fun night of drinks with a girlfriend on Friday, I didn’t do anything notable or interesting.  I accomplished exactly nothing.  I took not one step forward in any aspect of my life.  In fact, I actually took one step backwards because we had to return the curtains I ordered for the bedroom.

They weren’t right.

See, they were incredibly white.  And shiny.  And they felt like a bridesmaid’s dress, except they didn’t get prettier when I got them drunk.


*Update: My buddy Dennis commented that it’s ME who would have to get drunk in order for this scenario — and joke — to work.  That’s what I get for writing posts before 7:00 a.m. Why do you always have to be right, Dennis?  WHY?  (P.S. I don’t think I get prettier when they get drunk. Since I mostly walk around my bedroom naked, they’re not exactly lookin’ at my face, if you knowwhatI’msayin’.  Ba-dum-DUM.)

And actually, I made Justin return them, poor guy, because I couldn’t face the idea of going into town to shop.  Especially not for curtains.  Because apparently bedroom curtains are my Achille’s heel of decorating.  Well curtains, and pretty much anything else that requires money and a commitment.

But don’t feel too bad for Justin because he volunteered.  Probably because he wanted to get away from me and my manic online curtain shopping — that torturous hell hole of grainy photos, 80’s valances, and mixed reviews.

Oh, the reviews.  I read them for what feels like hours and was eventually convinced that it would be better for me to go pick a fabric and sew my own damn curtains even though the most I’ve ever sewed is a button but then I realized that in order to get fabric I’d either have to go out and shop, or I’d have to look online and read more reviews since everyone knows the reviews are the only thing allowing us to make a semi-confident purchase over the internet and still, because of my shiny white grommety curtain fiasco, I’ve learned that even the reviews are confusing and not always reliable and I’d probably end up with some kind of poop brown velvet that a bunch of strangers across the internet convinced me would be a good choice because of its energy-saving qualities and machine washability.

No, thank you.

Fortunately for me and my sanity, I’m learning how to live in the moment.  To step away from my privileged white girl problems, crack open a Yuengling, and surf instead for interesting road trip destinations and cheap tickets to anywhere.

It’s called escapism people, and it’s a beautiful thing.

That is, until you realize that an entire 48 hours have passed, your house is dirty, the laundry has piled up, you have no food in the fridge, you’re still only halfway through your book club book and the meeting is on Wednesday, you haven’t written anything worthwhile in an embarrassingly long amount of time, and you still have no curtains.

I don’t like wasting a weekend.  It makes me feel icky.  I’m one of those people who doesn’t feel right if something doesn’t get done.

But really, I’m thinking of moving us back into the bedroom anyway, because curtains are mostly just for the sake of the neighbors who don’t want exposure to the things that might happen in there, like reading in bed or swinging from our sex toy chandelier.  But honestly, if they don’t want exposure, then maybe they should just stop looking.

You know?

The good news is that I officially have something to look forward to, besides public displays of sex toy swingery.

Here’s a hint:

Okay.  That’s more than a hint.

It’s a road trip, baby!

So it’s not quite the epic cross-country trip that’s been consuming my thoughts, and it’s not even as far as Miami where I drive to visit my sister, but it’s something.

And some of those places are new to me.

And some have old friends.

And wonderful family.

And good food.

And a bed for me to stay.

Because while this trip could easily be accomplished in a single day, you know, in your heart of hearts, that it’s me.

It’s travel.

It’s unquestionable.

When it comes to going anywhere, I always take the long way home.

What about you?  Do you need to feel a sense of accomplishment over a weekend, or are you happy to relax and let one slide by?  Any fun trips planned?  Anyone else like to take the scenic route?

*Post title from “The Long Way Home” by Norah Jones. Love it.

Fine. Here’s a Sneak Peek at my Bedroom. Pervs.

It feels a little intimate, this whole sharing of the bedroom.

I mean… when it looked like this, is was no big deal.

It was just a room. An uninteresting, plain yogurt, asexual cube of space.

But now?

It’s like she’s hiked her skirt up a little bit, and now I’m not sure how I feel about you looking at her.

Because you might judge her.

And you might not be into the kinds of things I’m into.

Like the charcoal gray walls or the S&M sex toy we’ve hung from the ceiling.

Oh, wait. That’s just my armillary antiqued silver chandelier.

You know, inspired by those awesome looking armillary spheres that depict the earth as the center of a cosmic system with various rings representing the circles of all of those floaty things up in the sky.

It’s kind of like this one from

Except mine didn’t cost $1,080.

It’s this one, from

Solaris Olde Silver 3-light Chandelier by Chrystorama.

Except I didn’t spend $218, either.

I happened to luck upon finding an open item on their website, meaning someone else bought this beauty and returned it.

I can’t imagine why.

So, with Bellacor’s guarantee that the product had all of the pieces and was in brand new condition, I bit the non-returnable bullet and purchased this baby for $109.

Is it still more than I’d like to admit spending?


But I think I might be in love. And the pattern it splays across the ceiling when it’s turned on is phenomenal.

You’ll just have to wait to see that, though.

A girl can’t reveal all of her secrets in a single day.

So this is where my bedroom makeover is so far: Painted trim, painted ceiling, painted walls, and new light.

I warned you before, and I’ll say it again — the room might not be everyone’s cup o’ tea, but it’s my cup o’ Tanqueray and tonic with a squeeze of lime.

So far it’s sexy and sultry with a splash of celestial.

Oh, and Justin likes it too.

And This Is Why You Should Never Do Anything Nice For Anyone Ever.

This weekend, I broke my boss’s television.


Welcome to my world.

I know these things don’t just happen to me, right?  You told me these things don’t just happen to me, like the time I flashed my co-worker, boss, and pretty much the entire city my skivvies in broad daylight.  (Because, you know, any other time of day would be perfectly acceptable.)

It was one of those moments when, clear as crystal, I had an epiphany — we really should lie the television down while we move it, I thought, rather than balancing it up on its stand.

Of course, as is common in these types of scenarios, I was having that epiphany as I pressed the accelerator when the light turned green.  In the forward momentum, the backwards-facing television decided that it would rather stay at the stop light, so it fell, face down, and landed on top of a file cabinet.

And I got that feeling.  You know that sickly feeling when you feel like life is playing a joke on you?  Like any second time is going to rewind itself to the moment before The Incident happened, and you’ll have time to change the way things went down?  Like this really can’t be happening, and we’ll just stop at the office to drop off the filing cabinet, and then there will be plenty of room to properly arrange the large, not-inexpensive flat screen television in such a way that basic physics won’t lead to its ultimate demise?

But wait.  That already happened.

And now I have to explain to my boss, when we show up at his new house to which we were helping him move his family’s worldly possessions from his old house, why, exactly, I broke one of the two things I was responsible for transporting.

After that thought crossed my mind, a more primal instinct took over.  I’m not exactly sure, but I think this is the conversation that took place in my car:

Me:  We could just keep driving.  We could just keep going and start over with nothing but this Tracker, a filing cabinet, and a broken, flat screen television to our names.

Justin:  That sounds great, except for the part where I get arrested for ditching the military.

Me:  We could just throw it out the back of the Tracker and tell him we got mugged when we were driving through a less-than-savory part of town.

Justin:  We didn’t drive through a less-than-savory part of town.  He’ll only believe that story if we tell him we got mugged by a McDonald’s employee or grass-fed prep school children.

Me:  It could happen.

Justin:  And the only thing they stole was the flat screen?

Me:  What else are they going to steal?  Mixed CD’s from 1998?  A pack of kleenex?  The copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull I bought in a used bookstore in Canon Beach  in 2003 that’s been sitting in the pocket of my door ever since?

Justin:  Good point. But we’d have to file a police report to make it believable, and I refuse to get involved in that type of scandalous affair.

Me:  What, they didn’t teach you that in Catholic school?  That it’s okay to file false police reports on your wife’s behalf so she doesn’t have to tell her boss that she broke his expensive television?  That you BOTH broke his expensive television?  Don’t forget, Mister, you were in the car.  That makes you an accomplice.  And I’m your wife.  Catholics are totally into that idea of doing-whatever-the-spouse-wants-no-questions-asked, right?  I mean, it’s for the good of the marriage.  I could be carrying your CHILD.

Justin:  What?  You could?

Me:  No.  It was a hypothetical.


Me:  Let’s talk about something else.

In the end, my boss wasn’t mad.  Or at least he did a good job of hiding it.  I console myself by saying it was an older flat screen, and he said he’d been looking for an excuse to buy a new one anyway.

That, and the fact that I work for a bargain.  And he knows it.

And we’re the only people who showed up to help him move.

And we did it for free.

So hey.

You get what you pay for, right?

I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson to be learned here.  Something like… don’t do nice things for other people because it will likely bite you in the ass.

Or something like that.

I’m still working on that one.

My Kind of Breakfast

I don’t have time to write anything this morning because I’m already terribly late for a work-related breakfast meeting on this holiday morning, and I’m honestly not sure what’s worse — that I’m late for work on a holiday morning, when many other people are still tucked warmly in their beds or sitting comfortably at their own kitchen tables with a cup o’ java and their morning readery, or that I’m actually semi-excited for my greasy diner sausage cheese biscuit, crappy coffee, and glass of orange juice.

Hey. We do this diner work thing every month, and one gets accustomed to certain delicacies.

Anyway, in lieu of an actual post this morning, I’m leaving you with this:


A photo of the best mojito I’ve ever had in my entire life (Thanksgiving-ish, 2011, Miami, FL),

and this:

Me and my apparently giant hands, just trying to enjoy said mojito without the paparazzi getting all up in my bidness.

You know, because I’m famous like that.

I’m So Cool — Too Bad I’m A Loser.

A couple of days ago, I found myself slipping. Bemoaning the lot in our military life that’s landed us in the same place for so long.  I was doing something meaningless — dropping flyers and a lockbox off at a new listing, driving through the usual drudgery of pawn shops and Asian markets and the suffocating stench of fried food and giant southern truck exhaust.  I was headed west, and I knew that if I kept going, I would eventually race along the south side of the military training lands, where they shoot stuff and drop stuff and fall from the sky like little turds from a bird only they never land on anyone’s head.

Unless, of course, they plan it that way.

But I didn’t keep going, because I had things to do.  A right turn to make, into a tiny pocket of suburbia tucked just off of the main road and into a deluded fog of quiet seclusion and community togetherness.  I tapped my brakes, and that’s when I saw it.  Due west, straight ahead, the biggest bird in my sky at that moment — probably a C-17 with a 170 foot wingspan and 4 bulky engines carrying its unlikely hulk above the tree line over the rise ahead.  And then they started dropping, the turds from the bird, only way, way cooler.  They seemed random and graceful the way they fell, one after another after another, then pop pop pop went their parachutes almost immediately, seeming precariously close to one another and then falling, falling and from this distance looking like so many tiny Mary Poppins silhouettes gliding down across the setting sun and over the London skyline comprised, in this case, of the tallest Longleaf Pines.

I can’t find a credit for this photo. If it’s yours, please let me know.

It was stunning.

And, no matter how many times I witness this surprise display of Paratrooping prowess, it will never get old.  Never.

It will never not be cool to me.

Which is comforting, because in this life, it’s so easy for things to fall off of our radars, whether because someone tells us it’s no longer cool to like these things, or we outgrow them ourselves.  And sometimes it feels like this race — like we drop one trend, clear the overalls and jean skirts from our wardrobes, and just a short 10 years later, we’re filling it up again.  Denim, denim everywhere!

Doesn’t it get tiring?  This constant struggle to look the right way, say the right thing, be the right person?

I mean, really.  If we all loved the same things, there would never be anything new to discover.  And stores would constantly be sold out of yoga pants.  And we wouldn’t procreate because Scott Bairstow is taken.

And I realized that day that to me, no matter what anyone else tries to say, these things will never stop being cool:

The Toadies.

Absolut Vodka ads.

Harry Potter books.



Billy Joel.

(Every voice heard in this song is his.  The only instrumental accompaniment is a bass guitar.  Tell me that’s not awesome.)

The Tracker.

So.  What’s your list?

*Thanks once again to the Barenaked Ladies for providing the post title. I couldn’t do it without you.

Happy Frickin’ Valentine’s Day to You, Too.

In light of the fact that Justin and I celebrated Valentine’s Day together for the first time 3 years into our relationship and bought each other a marriage “game over” t-shirt and the complete box set of Carmen Electra’s Strip Aerobics (can you guess who received which gift?), you would think I’d be over this V-day thing entirely and that this year we’d kick back on the couch, trough some sloppy joes, and practice opening beer bottles with our butt cracks.

However, I’ll have you know, romance isn’t entirely dead to me on this day.

In fact, this year we’re doing something super romantic.

That’s right.

We’re working on our master bedroom.


Technically we worked on it over the weekend and I will be painting the walls on my day off tomorrow, so really tonight we might hang the light or something, then sit on the floor admiring our handiwork while eating sloppy joes — the homemade kind, not the crap from a can.  Because we’re crazy like that.  And to me, nothing says love like ground beef on a bun.

Anyway, we are making progress.  Justin primed and painted the ceiling, and I cleaned and painted all of the baseboards, door and window trim.

*NOTE: If you’re going to take on a room painting project and the trim needs to be painted as well, start with the trim FIRST.  Just trust me on this.

FYI, cleaning a room after popcorn removal and ceiling sanding is not an easy task.  It requires a shop vac, a regular vac, patience, and some elbow grease.  Guess which one of these 4 I don’t have.

While Justin was at work last week, I got started on the grungy baseboards.

You can see how bad they were, even post-scrubbing.

Ignore the “special” trim brush I’m using and my creepy red hand.  My hand isn’t really that red.

I hated that paint brush.  When I did the rest of the trim over the weekend, I found it much more effective to use my usual Wooster shortcut brush.

That big flat spatula tool that Justin had used to scrape the ceiling worked wonderfully to hold down the carpet while I painted the baseboards.

I was meticulous about not getting paint on the carpet.  That is, until I got paint on the carpet.

Lots of it.

This is after instinctively glopping (because that’s a word) the bulk of it up with some paper towels.

See, I was wedged between the wall and the dresser, and in my haste to get out from the confined space, I spilled the paint.  And while we’re going to replace the carpet eventually, I’d rather not have a huge paint splotch constantly reminding me of my inadequacies until that day arrives.

So, after hastily consulting Facebook on my phone, I went to work dumping water onto the spill and soaking it up with a towel before reading the responses.

Turns out this was a wise move, since my oh-so-helpful Facebook plea responses included: gum, bleach, peanut butter, scissors, an ice cube, carpet colored paint, a rug, and urine.

Thanks, guys.

Really, though — this is why I love my friends.  They make me laugh when I kind of want to cry.  And there were definitely some useful tips too, like water, a carpet shampooer, and this stuff.

Fortunately though, the water/towel method ended up working just fine since I didn’t let the paint dry, and there was no need to pull out the ol’ shampooer or overnight myself some latex paint remover.


Remember how I told you that every DIY project takes much longer than you would expect?


I’m starting to think it’s just me.

So.  Are you doing anything special for V-day like hanging a ceiling light or watching paint dry?

It’s not that I have a problem with Valentine’s Day — it’s just that I’m not really into the typical accoutrements (hearts, candy, flowers, hearts, sappy cards, and hearts) that come with it.  Now.  If Justin were to bring home… say… 2 airline tickets to the Galapagos Islands, we’d be in business.

I’m a simple girl, really.

I know.  He’s totally got it made.

I Tasted Carolina. And Then I Ate it All. (Part 2)

Okay.  So where was I on my fantastic Taste Carolina food tour?  I believe we were carrying Alfred’s pecaaaahn pie over to the Carrboro Beverage Company to wash it down with a brewski.  Because nothing goes with sweet pie better than a bitter stout.


Probably not.

(If you missed Part 1, check it out here.)

The Carrboro Beverage Company is owned by Tyler’s Tap Room, which is apparently a very popular tavern in the area.  I’ll have to go back to try it out.

You know, for research.

Unfortunately, I feel a little like this is where the tour started going downhill.  We were becoming full and tired, and then we introduced alcohol into the mix.  The guys working here were very friendly, but they seemed unsure about what they were supposed to serve us, so they just started handing out samples of whatever they had on tap.  There also happened to be a wine representative in the place, so we had more than our fair share of samples, but combine all of that with a slice of fresh pecan pie, and they almost had to roll me out of there.

Carrboro Beverage Company
Carrboro Beverage Company
Carrboro Beverage Company

They rolled me right into the place I’d been most looking forward to on the tour — Acme.

We’d eaten there with Alaina and Dirk once before, and from what I remembered, the food had been spectacular.

Which is why, needless to say, I was more than a little disappointed when they came out with what basically amounted to glorified nachos.

Acme Nachos

Sure they looked pretty, and the taste of the homemade chips dusted with goat cheese and a squeeze of fresh lime was good, like goat cheese, and who doesn’t like goat cheese, but it just… wasn’t what I’d been expecting.  I suddenly felt like the annoying neighbor who’d dropped by unexpectedly, so our hosts rummaged through the fridge and threw together whatever they could find.  And after a morning of service by enthusiastic and prepared artisans who were incredibly proud of their products, this just felt like a letdown.

That said, I’d still recommend them if you’re planning to spend some money.  The food really can be phenomenal, and they have a gorgeous courtyard out back.

The next 2 stops, Miel Bon Bons and Jessee’s served more as an interlude for all of the gastronomical craziness going on.  We sampled tiny macaroons and chocolate confections at the little patisserie with its stunning displays of pastries, candies, and the most beautiful wedding cakes I’ve ever seen (which they wouldn’t let me photograph, but you can see plenty on their website).

Miel Bon Bons

At Jessee’s, we took a rest and sipped refreshing flavored iced teas.

This was the reprieve we needed, apparently, because I felt rejuvenated.  Which was extremely fortunate, because for the next stop, I needed my energy.

Welcome to Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe.

Now we’re back on track.

We were able to meet Vimala herself, who opened this restaurant with the help of the community.  After emerging — alive — from an abusive marriage, family and friends encouraged her to open this cafe, where her motto has always been, “When Vimala cooks, everyone eats!”  She will feed anyone who comes through her door, regardless of whether they can afford it or not.

But her generosity is not a cover for lack of flavor.

This was just… the best.  And my biggest regret is not taking sufficient notes so I could accurately describe to you the deliciousness that we ate.

All I can say is if you like Indian food, or you think you might like to think about liking Indian food, this is a great place to start.

Then finally — finally — we were nearing the finish line.

Our guide stopped us on a corner to talk about the place we were about to enter, the Open Eye Cafe, but I couldn’t concentrate due to the food coma my brain was trying to fight off, so I took photos of bees instead.

Dudes.  I totally felt buzzzzzed.


So we entered the coffee shop, and I’ll be honest — I wish this would have started the tour, since they by far had the lengthiest and most informative presentation.  But after 9 stops and countless indulgences, I wasn’t sure the Open Eye Cafe could… well… keep my eyes open.  Which is a shame, because they took us into the back room, where a more conscious mind would have learned from a true coffee connoisseur how to brew the perfect cup of coffee.  From selecting the best free trade beans from individual farmers around the world, roasting their beans in-house, and adjusting the brewing water temperature to suit the particular bean — they knew it all.  Really.  This place could be more intimidating than a winery, and their super-trained and certified baristas do, in fact, hold tasting competitions with coffee.

It’s that serious.

He brewed a couple of different samples for us to try, and even my husband, who is not a black coffee drinker, had no problems getting this down.

If I learned nothing else, I did learn that coffee-making is an art much more complicated than pouring a glass of wine.

And, if done right, can lead to an exceptional tasting experience.

We drove to Dirk and Alaina’s to see the baby, but there’s a chance I might have wandered out to their porch by myself, stretched out on the couch, and took a nap.

Hey.  Don’t judge.  Eating Carolina is exhausting.

I Tasted Carolina. And Then I Ate It All. (Part 1)

It’s times like these.

Times when it’s cold, and the forecasters predict that later today it will progressively get colder, because there’s this evil thing called a COLD FRONT and it’s headed this direction and some time — some foreboding time later this afternoon — it’s going to actually start feeling a little bit like winter, and even though it’s already mid February, which means I’ve had months to prepare for this, I realize I’m still not prepared and I feel like it would probably be best for everyone if I just stayed snug under my 35″ high covers until April.

That’s right, we’re still sleeping in the guest room, in case you were wondering.

The progress on our bedroom is slow, and not very steady, but I promise you there is progress, even though it occasionally/all-of-the-time gets hindered by wine by the fire and new episodes of Revenge and me spilling baseboard paint on the carpet.

Yes, that happened.

Yes, I will tell you about that little fiasco one day soon, when I’m ready to share some more positive progress.

But anyway.  Not only do I have the overwhelming urge to hibernate this time of year, but I also reminisce.  I reminisce on happy times of yore, like just 4 months ago when it was pleasant and warm and sunshiny — when I could wake up with the bright morning rays, stand outside in all of my barefooted glory, sip my coffee and stretch to greet the world.

Nearly 4 months ago, on the weekend of my 29th birthday, we did something we should probably be doing a lot more frequently.

The concept is simple.  I’ve heard it called “taking a ‘staycation,'” in which the participants are traveling, but not, because they’re staying at home.  But I don’t really like those cutesy terms people come up with to make a concept stick — like “Brangelina” or “frenemy” because they make me feel lazy, so really.  I’ll call it what it was.  It was a day trip.  Something fun we could do without the cost of booking a hotel or packing camping gear or sleeping in the car.

I know.

It sounds like we’re taking all of the fun out of travel.  But hear me out.

See, with my unending itch to explore and discover and be moving all of the time and Justin’s desire to… well… not, we discovered this extremely enjoyable and compatible compromise that earned us at least 2 weeks worth of patting ourselves on the back for how awesome we sometimes are at being married.

We both love trying new foods, so when I heard about gourmet food tours by Taste Carolina, I knew exactly what I wanted for my birthday.  We opted for the walking tour of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, which is about an hour and a half from where we live, for $44.98 per person, which earned us over 3 hours and 8 stops at amazing, locally owned eateries.  That’s less than we would’ve spent on a “fancy” night out at our local Red Lobster.

We were pretty psyched.

Now this is where I’m a bad blogger.  Bad.  I actually managed to take many pictures this time, so no worries there, but notes?  None.  I didn’t expect to wait 4 months before blogging about it.  So, sadly, I don’t remember many of the details about what we ate, but I will try my best to explain and then let the pictures speak for themselves.

Our very first stop was one of the best, in my humble little opinion.  I was a little camera-shy at the start, so I didn’t get a photo of the place, but it was called Neal’s Deli.  I was a little disappointed that the tour didn’t take us inside the establishment, but instead we were parked on some benches outside.  My disappointment quickly faded when I bit into one of these:

On the left, we have what I believe to be some type of homemade pastrami with mustard.  The beef was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted — full of pressed spices and divine on the homemade buttermilk biscuit.  The other was some type of egg and cheese, with a buttery, melty consistency that made me want to eat one of these every morning for the rest of my life.  It made me very, very glad that I don’t pass Neal’s on my way to work.

Next, we headed to the renowned Carrboro Farmers’ Market, established in 1996.  It’s held every Wednesday and Saturday morning in the “town commons” (no joke), and it felt like stepping into a type of fairy land filled with fresh produce, vibrant blooms, hand-made crafts, and local meats, cheeses, and an impressive variety of gourmet delicacies.

Carrboro Farmers' Market
Carrboro Farmers' Market
Carrboro Farmers' Market

Our first stop in the market was at the booth of Chapel Hill Creamery, a company I love because I love to say its name.  Go ahead.  Say it out loud.  Sounds like something you might say if you’d lived in pioneer times, like in the game The Oregon Trail. “I’m off to the Chapel Hill Creamery to fetch some cheese before we leave,” you’d say, not knowing that you’re destined to die 3 days later from a broken leg you suffered during a wagon axle accident while fording a river, and you’ll wish you’d just stayed with the happy cows at the creamery, because California is probably overrated anyway.  (It’s not.)

My favorite was their Dairyland Farmer’s Cheese, which was very simple, creamy, and would probably taste delicious melted over some frijoles negros and tucked inside a burrito.

Next, we were treated to a very generous sample from The Pig, a restaurant with a booth at the market serving up fresh grilled pork franks made from local, hormone and antibiotic free piggies.

The Pig Menu
Sam from The Pig

Of course, I tried the Reuben frank because it marries one of my favorite sandwiches (the Reuben) with one of my favorite foods (the Hot Dog) to create this orgasmically inspired offspring:

Reuben Frank

They say you can taste the difference between real meat and the kind you buy discount packaged at the grocery store, and now I’m convinced.  You can.

(Remember this?)

I’m pretty sure if I were going to buy tongue, it would NOT be from my neighborhood Food Lion.

Moving on.

Our last stop at the market was at that of the fantabulous Alfred De La Houssaye’s Sweetwater Pecan Orchard.

If I remember correctly, he started the orchard because he loves pecans and he loves oriental persimmons.  Ignoring the fact that everyone told him he would not be able to successfully grow those things here, he managed to do so and to do so quite successfully.


With pizzaz.

Sweetwater Pecan Orchard

And I love him because he insists that the correct pronunciation of the nut is pecaaahn, with a soft “a” and not the harsh, biting hard A that so many southerners use.

And also because he makes these chocolate pecan chewies, which I couldn’t stop eating.

And also because he gave us each a slice of pie to take to our next stop, the Carrboro Beverage Company.

Carrboro Beverage Company

But this post is getting a little long, methinks, so I’m going to save the second half of the tour for next time.

Oh, but trust me.  It’s worth the wait.

There’s more! Click HERE for Part 2.

Pre-Coffee Philosophical. Because I’m Crazy Like That.

You know how sometimes you can be in a place — a weird place inside your head — and you’re sitting there wondering whether you’re doing the right thing? Whether you took the right exit. Whether you’re following the right path. Because everyone else seems to think that it’s wrong. That you’re falling. That you’ve lost your ever-loving mind.

And then something happens. Some little thing — a well-timed news story, a word of encouragement, a tiny sign of camaraderie from Life — its way of letting you know that while others might not “get it,” the two of you are still on the same team.

Maybe it’s because we look for signs when we need encouragement, and these nudges would mean something completely different had we chosen another road.


But sometimes, something speaks to you, and it’s too loud to ignore.

I no longer remember what series of internet rabbit holes led me to this article or why, instead of depressing me, it made me feel encouraged. It’s written by Bronnie Ware, author of a book called The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.

Okay, let’s just get the uncomfortable part out-of-the-way first. Yes, dying sucks. I hate it. You hate it. It makes all sad when someone does it. Mostly because we don’t understand it, and that makes it scary. That, and the sense of permanence.

That said, it’s important — so, so important — that we learn in this life the lessons people are willing to teach.

You know, so we don’t have to learn the hard way.

Okay. How many times, since you were a child, has someone tried to save you from learning something the hard way?

Eight hundred seventy-nine million?

And how many times has that stopped you from trying something yourself?

Once? Never?

That’s what I thought.

As a species, we’re relatively hard-headed. Especially when we’re young, when we’re so thirsty for not just knowledge but experience that it matters not that our parents told us not to drink too much. We’re still going to go out, take too many shots from a bottle of peppermint schnapps, become far too honest with too many people, empty our stomach contents all over the bathroom floor, and forever after suffer from an aversion to toothpaste flavored anything.

What? That’s just me?

Well. The irony is, we just become more stubborn when we get older. Only instead of it being about experience and going our own way, it somehow turns into going the right way — the way everyone else is going. We think decisions are no longer an option — that we’re too far caught up in whatever stage we find ourselves (marriage, children, retirement) to think about straying now. We’re flabbergasted and inspired by those who fall from the assembly line way of living and yet, somehow, we think it’s not an option for us. That those people have something special.

But they don’t.

And according to Bronnie Ware, dying people know this all too well. They know they could have done something different, but they simply didn’t. Fear of the Unknown kept them on the straight and narrow, and it wasn’t until they were faced with death that they realized, really, that there was nothing to be afraid of. It’s just Life. So the regrets, apparently, are fairly universal:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The article offers really nice explanations of each, so I won’t expand. But I think, maybe, that they speak for themselves.

We’re so worried all of the time that people will judge us. That we can’t be loud and silly at a party. That we can’t make hot sauce in Costa Rica. That we can’t talk about vaginas at the dinner table.

But it looks like, in the end, that you only have one judge to worry about — the one sitting at the bench inside of your head.

The one who’s been toughest on you from the start.

Regrets, I think, are unavoidable. There’s always something more you could have done.

But tell me.

Isn’t the biggest always that you waited to start?