Saturday, July 30, 2011

Simple Pleasures

My little gnome, that has lived in this planter of sedum since we moved into this house, over 4 years ago.  We dug the sedum out of an old barrel that the previous owners had left behind, and which we later pitched.  But the sedum has lived on.  How has it survived my black thumb?  I have a feeling this little man has something to do with it...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Digital Detox

By now, you get the idea that I'm off from school for nearly a month.  I've decided that one of these weeks needs to be spent doing a little cleanse.  No, I won't be drinking lemon water and cayenne pepper.  Instead, I'm doing a digital detox.  I like to do these every now and then to get my head back in line.  I find that my phone/internet consumption habits tend to build over time, exponential graph style.  I get to a point where I can't go five minutes without plunking down in front of the computer to see if I have any new posts in my reader or if there are any new news feeds on Facebook.  And then I spend an hour with Pinterest.  I also get to a point where my fingers twitch at every red light, and I MUST look at my phone or my head will explode.  I can't eat a meal out without checking it.  Mind you - no one calls me, texts me, or emails me.  Ok, well, occasionally, but it's totally not important when it does happen.

So I find it refreshing to take a step back a few times a year, cleanse my mind and my spirit.  I find I'm much less digitally dependent for a while afterwards, and I feel like I've accomplished something special.

So from tomorrow forward, I'm ditching the phone and the internet for a solid week.  I'm going to do what Caesar Milan recommends, and Live in De Now.

Catch ya on the flipside.

(ps - did I just say that?)
(pps - i'm still autoposting my SP's - I've got a precedent to maintain)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Thoughts

  • Ok, so maybe I should have paced myself with that whole I'm-on-a-blogging-roll I'm out of ideas.
  • If we are Facebook or Twitter friends, you have already heard me brag about this, but I'm saying it again - I'm officially on a no-school "vacation" until Aug 22!  That's almost a whole month!  I have a whole lot of nothing up my sleeves for these next few weeks.
  • I start my student teaching Aug 23, so I will probably spend the next few weeks being nervous :)
  • Finished The Art of Racing in the Rain - loved it.  Now on to your wonderful suggestions!
  • I've had TMJ (or something like it) for going on two weeks now - super annoying!  Anyone have any miracle cures?
  • Today is deep clean day in the Stravelakis house.  All of the cleaning that got put off during my busy summer is being tackled today - dusting, organizing etc.  
  • What kind of cleaner are you?  I know some people just keep their houses clean all of the time, and never have to have a deep clean day.  I hate you.  To everyone else - I know some people have a system - tackle one room at a time or systematically plug through vacuuming, then laundry, then dusting, etc.  I, however, am a random cleaner.  I will pick up one thing in one room and take it to its home in another, and then get distracted by something, and totally switch gears.  Takes me longer, surely, but it gets done.  That, and I blare the TV music channel to get amped.  Oh, the tricks of a domestically challenged wife...
  • Did I mention I'm on vacation? :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Ah! Saturday almost escaped me without a SP!

I don't have a new one for this week, but if this image from my Dollywood trip doesn't inspire thoughts of summertime Americana, then I don't know what will.  That, or thoughts of nausea, if you're me... 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lesson Learned...

Remember the post a year or so ago where I gushed about my new Ikea curtains (scored in the as-is section for only $3 a panel)?

I was so excited to get giant panels for such a great price.  The ones I got for our bedroom were a nice heavy, almost canvassy material (I know nothing about fabrics, I'm sure it has a real name....)  For our office, I got some lovely white ones that were a little lighter, but still nice and substantial.  I washed them first, then I got out my iron and hem tape and went to town, measuring them for the exact length I wanted - barely gracing the floor - not too high but not too puddley.  They looked great - I was pleased with my domestic textile skills!

Just the length I wanted!
Well, consider this my lesson learned.  Heavy fabric is prone to gravity, and over time, my curtains have become puddles, much to my chagrin:

I realize now that I should have let them hang for a few months before hemming them, giving gravity a chance to do its dirty work.

I'm super lazy, so I am not looking forward to the process of re-hem-taping these babies.  Urgh.  I'm also tempted to wash/dry these, but then I'm afraid I will ruin them.  

This is why I can't have nice things.   :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lyla's Photos

[can I just say that I am on a blogging roll???  yay for more freetime!]

I just wanted to pass along this link - my sister had Katie Bower of BowerPower take one-year pictures of my niece Lyla, and the photos are up on her photography blog.

I know you have seen a million pictures of this sweet girl on my blog, but Katie, of course, took better ones than I ever could. :)

I Like Big Books & I Cannot Lie

( I know, I know, totally stolen from Pinterest)

1.  You guys are awesome!

2.  I got some great responses to yesterday's call for reading material, so I thought I would put them all here in one place in case anyone else needs some inspiration:

  • The Glass Castle
  • The Piano Teacher
  • Silver Sparrow
  • Maine
  • Faith
  • The Help
  • Room: A Novel
  • Someone Knows My Name
  • The Hunger Games series
  • Outlander series
  • Rules of Civility
  • Girl in Translation
  • The Birth House
  • Anything by Alice Hoffman
  • Anything by Elizabeth Berg
  • Anything by David Sedaris
  • Anything by Adriana Trigiani 
Can't wait to pile these by my bedside (which sounds weird, but we don't have nightstands, so...)

3.  I also picked up The Art of Racing in the Rain at the library yesterday, since I've heard good things.  I can already tell I'm going to cry like a baby.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Books? For Adults??

As my classes are nearing an end, I have the most amazing opportunity EVER - to read - for FUN!

Ok, so not that amazing, but I'm totally looking forward to it, since textbooks have consumed my life.  I will have some free time and need some good reads to keep me going.

In the past, most of my reading was done via audio book, due to my killer commute.  This left me relying on what looked interesting and was available on the library shelf (usually it takes a while for a book to make it to audio, at least from the library, so current faves usually weren't an option...).  

I also have a list a mile-long of middle school level books I want to read - classics I may have missed or ones students have mentioned.  I checked out a few, but found that I really crave some grownup reading material for a few weeks, until I am once again immersed in adolescent land...

So now I don't know what to read!

PLEASE help me out - comment and suggest a book - or three! - that I should read.  Lurkers?  Wanna take a stab at it?  I won't judge your reading tastes, promise!  Thanks!

(ps - here's my goodreads list if you want to see)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sister Bachelorette Extravaganza!

You guys!  My sister is getting married in two weeks!  I can't believe it.  I still think of her as this:

(ok, not really, but I can't help but randomly incorporate these old pics into posts, since I have them scanned and all....)

Last weekend, we had a little bachelorette trip for Courtney, celebrated up in the Smokey Mountains at Dollywood.  If you've never been, think Six Flags meets County Fair meets Craft Show.  It's fabulous.  {and redneck, don't forget redneck}

We kept it low-key, and it was a great chance to do some bonding with my sisters.  Courtney's friend Wendy came too, and she was so sweet and fun! 

I will certainly be posting pictures from Courtney's wedding - she and my mom have pulled together so many adorable and crafty things for it.  The wedding will be at the beach house we are staying in, so it's DIY to the hilt.  I can't wait.

Anyway, here are some pictures of our bachelorette trip - love these girls! 

Courtney, Lyla Bug, Me, Caitlin (wearing her best redneck attire!)


Claire doesn't do roller coasters - so I just take the pictures!

We're cool like this. 
Court and Wendy got wet!

Beautiful bride to be!

Such fun!

You can't go to Pigeon Forge without getting an airbrush t shirt! (Lyla got one)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Mantle

I'm back with a work-with-what-you-got mantle!  It's semi-beachy and didn't cost a dime.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tooting My Own Horn

Eeew, that's a gross saying.  

Anyway, Re-Nest featured my garden hose as elevation measuring technique in one of their posts this week.  I'm super famous, what can I say?? ;)

Check it out!

It's Our House's Birthday!

She's turning 4 this week! (decided the house was a "she," since she's so high maintenance).

Ok, well, more like 27... but she's turning 4 since her life started over the day she met us :)

Four years ago this week, we closed on our house and wandered the empty rooms, our heads spinning with possibilities.  We started out with some crummy, dorm-quality furniture and a 50" tv... you can guess who made those choices.

We slowly accumulated more stuff, including real places to sit and art on the walls.  Over time, we have made it a home.  It's a work in progress, for sure, and sometimes I can't believe it's been four years and I haven't done _____ (there are LOTS of blanks I could fill in on that one!)

Oh yeah, and our house is a diva and decided to get herself a few b-day presents.  She must have been watching too many of those reruns of My Super Sweet Sixteen and didn't quite realize her parents aren't millionaires too.

She got:

A Mazarati  brand spanking new air conditioning/heating system!  She sure picked a goooood month to throw a hissy fit and demand a new one!

AND, girl got herself a snazzy new water heater as well!  Tony and I happen to like warm showers, so we obliged.

Too bad her little gifts are keeping her from getting any others for a while.  Selfish brat.

Now that I'm done hating on my house, I'll treat myself to a little before and after montage, to remind myself that I really do like this place.  All of the Before pictures are ones taken the day we moved in (ie, before I was obsessed with documenting our lives... so they aren't perfect).  While we have a long way to go, I'd say we've done a pretty good job in the past four years, considering we were starting from absolute scratch!

Um, yeah... need to update my photos... please excuse Christmas

Happy Birthday House!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


This past weekend, I took a solo trip to visit my family in Knoxville, Tennessee.  I left after my morning class on Thursday, eager to get on the road.  There was no appointment to rush to, but I rushed anyway.  Gotta make good time!  GPS running, I watched the bottom right hand corner as minutes dropped off of my arrival time.  I sped through a drive-thru for lunch, precariously balancing barbeque sauce and chicken fingers on my car’s console.  You can’t waste time going in to eat!  As I hit the lonely stretch of road after Chattanooga heading north to Knoxville, I approached a bend in the road and was greeted by glaring red tail lights.  Gridlock.  Seeing no end to the mess in sight, I quickly took the next exit and punched in a detour on my navigation.  Thirty minutes added to my time, but at least I was moving.  For a mile or two, that is.  Turns out, everyone else had the same idea, and we crept, bumper to bumper, through the quiet outskirts of a town certainly unused to this much attention.  I probably would have fared better sticking it out on the interstate.

However, I had somewhat of an epiphany, sitting alone in my car on a blazing day with the AC pumping.  In that town that I first cursed for having a 25 mph speed limit, I saw an absolutely beautiful landscape.  The small road I was on stretched over the Tennessee River, and as I crossed, I saw a picturesque old railroad bridge spanning the water below, casting a beautiful reflection into the murky blue water.  Banks of lush green trees framed the view.  This quaint little town sat nestled right at the edge of a powerful, beautiful river.  I saw an older couple sitting outside at a downtown cafĂ©, chatting amicably, no doubt watching the horde of cars invade their little town and reminiscing on times past.  My frustration melted as I took in the sights.

Why are we always rushing, even when we have nowhere to be?  Why can’t we take a detour every now and then, stop to get some lunch, chat with a stranger?  Perhaps it’s the wannabe photographer in me, but I was moved by that scene of an ancient bridge looming over a sleepy town.  Isn’t that the beauty of it all, being moved by a scene that tugs at your soul?  From that point on, I did not regret my change in course.  I simply basked in the pleasure of it, knowing this is something I would never have seen if I did not get derailed.  My only regret is that I didn’t stop to take a picture.  

[As seen in Today in Peachtree City :)  ]

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Fishing Dogs:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Roxy's Story

If you've ever checked out my Adventures in Writing tab up there, you can see that I write a weekly newspaper column for our local paper.  It's a blog-like column, about whatever I want it to be about.  Nothing heavy, just the daily life kinda stuff I talk about here.  Sadly, I'm behind by about five months of scanning, so that tab's archive is poorly out of date.  But I still write the column, and I still certainly enjoy it!  I realized that I spend a fair amount of time coming up with topics and writing the story itself each week, but I rarely share that writing here on the blog.  So as it fits, I will sometimes be posting my newspaper articles here as well, as a way to devilishly increase my fame not wear out my writing brain.  Today's post is one of those:


I’m a dog lover.  No offense to you cat people, but there’s something wonderful about a big wet nose and a wagging tale that I cannot get enough of.  Strangely enough, I grew up a cat person, but became a convert when I met my now-husband Tony and his golden retriever mix Sandy.  Sandy is such an intuitive dog, and always knew when to snuggle up close for a comforting nuzzle and when to oblige in a few games of fetch or laps around the dog park to keep us entertained. 

Three years ago, we decided Sandy needed a friend.  Many of our friends owned golden retrievers, so we knew that was the kind of dog we wanted to get as our second “fur baby.”  Since it’s rare to find pure breed dogs in shelters, we knew we would be exploring other avenues.  I don’t want to moralize, but I do not believe it is always necessary to buy a dog when there are so many little ones who need adopting.  If you are willing to forgo getting a snuggly puppy, rescues are often a great resource for older dogs that need happy homes.  The good news is, there are a multitude of rescues for various breeds, if there is a certain type of dog you have in mind. 

We worked with Adopt a Golden Atlanta to find our second pet.  They have frequent adoption days at various locations throughout Atlanta, and we decided to head up one Saturday, “just to look.”  You know how that always turns out.  Sure enough, we fell head over heels in love with Roxy, a shy, submissive girl of one and a half.  Each dog has a story, usually posted on Adopt a Golden’s website, and we learned that Roxy’s previous owners just couldn’t handle a big dog.  She was skinny and timid, but affectionate and insanely lovable.  Bonus points – she was already housebroken.  We put our name on Roxy’s list, and went through the relatively easy adoption process.  Someone came to do a home inspection to make sure she had plenty of room to move around and to check out Sandy to be sure Roxy would be entering a welcoming home.  After only about a week or so, we learned that Roxy would be ours!   We did pay a fee to adopt her, with the money going towards the overhead costs of taking care of the dogs. 

It was great to see so many dogs with waiting lists a mile long!  Many of the dogs that Adopt a Golden of Atlanta takes in are older, some have health issues or have been neglected in some way.  Many, like Roxy, are perfectly healthy and happy dogs, just needing a permanent home.  Roxy is nearly five now, and she is a rambunctious, silly, licking, sprinting, eighty pound ball of love.  She is my baby.  I tuck her in every night on “her” couch, and she greets us at the door each evening with something (anything she can find!) in her mouth, eager to please.  Goldens are extremely lovable dogs, and I am so glad we were able to give Roxy a new forever home.

(and Sandy, so she doesn't get jealous:)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lake Weekend, July 4th Style

It's become a tradition now for Tony and I to spend the 4th of July weekend at our friends Mikey and Kacy's parents' lake house (that's a lot of possessive).  I love that we are pretty much a part of each of their families and attend most family functions.  They've opened up to us with welcoming arms, and it makes me immeasurably happy.  Not to mention, it doesn't hurt to have friends with a lake house ;)

If you've been reading a while, you might remember my posts from the past two years - basically tons of dogs near water.

2010 Weekend

Their lake house is on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina, and it's a lovely lake indeed.  Their extended family comes to town for the weekend, and you haven't met a nicer bunch of people.  There is always tons of food, beer, and dog kisses to go around.  Each year gets bigger and bigger, with more people, more dogs, and this year - babies!  

We only got to stay for a day and a night this year (stupid school!!), but it was worth it.  First, they had the event catered by two men who smoked some barbecue all day.  Not shabby.

Best 4th Ever.  Next year has a lot to live up to.

And most importantly - we had our own private concert!!  They hired these guys, who are insanely talented and put on a great show.  If you like bluegrassy folk music, check out Cecil Thompkins here.  Amazing.  And he played Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel," which is one of my all-time favorites. 

Check out this video we took to see how talented he is and how cool it was to have this kind of entertainment:

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