Finally . . .

Hey There!

I’ve got a guilty secret. Something that I’m ashamed to admit . . . You know those things that you just assume everyone has done or read? Well, I never actually read any of Jane Austin’s books.

I feel like I read a fair number of the Great Illustrated Classics when I was a kid. I remember reading several Dickens stories but never any Jane Austin..

I know. Shocking, right? For all that I love my British tv shows and movies and period dramas . . . the closest I’ve come was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! (and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters . . . Don’t judge.).

BUT a dear friend lent me her Jane Austin anthology, and I spent most of that weekend at the cabin curled up reading it. I (finally) finished Sense and Sensibility, read through Pride and Prejudice completely, and started Emma.

Aside from being absolutely delicious to just sit and read for three days, the books were amazing. I loved Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility – the personalities of all of the girls, how terrible the deception and twists of love, and how wonderful the scenes she paints!

Now, I’m not that big of a fan of Emma so far. She’s flighty and frankly a bit irritating, but I hope that she grows on me. That will just leave Persuasion which is the only story I know nothing about. All of the others I’ve seen as movies or some type of adaptation before, but not that one. I’m excited to see how it goes!

I’m loving reading all of these so much that I want to read other classics. Tell me your favorites!


Connecticut Road Trip

Hey There!

Kenny Rogers had it right. You can’t make new old friends.

My Connecticut trip was last weekend, and it was such a much-needed three days.

Because I’m a crazy person, I left around 6 p.m. Thursday and arrived at 1:00 a.m. Friday morning. The best thing about driving at night (as long as I have enough sleep) is there isn’t nearly as much traffic to deal with. After driving in CT, I learned what a blessing that truly was because I experienced some of the worst displays of driving I’ve ever seen! 

My friend didn’t get off work until 8 a.m., but I wanted to be there when she got off, so I slept in the backseat of my car until she arrived. I figured I’d be more alert driving after work than trying to go home, take a “nap” at my normal bed time, and then start out on the trip at 1:00 or 2:00 mid sleep cycle.

Luckily, I’m pretty good at sleeping in my car, and it wasn’t too cold. I took a down comforter and thermal socks and slept pretty solidly. Actually, I was so exhausted I’m pretty sure I could’ve slept on the sidewalk and have been fine.

When I got there, my friend had researched all kind of ideas for how to fill our weekend. We could tour Katherine Hepburn’s house, drive out to the beach, go shopping, even drive into NYC. But honestly, it was cold and rainy and nothing sounded quite as good as curling up in her cozy apartment, drinking coffee, and watching British dramas and filmed on Broadway musicals, so that’s exactly what we did.

We went out for a late lunch/early dinner each day. We ate at Cheesecake Factory which was straight up sinful. I had a Reese’s cheesecake that was so rich it took me two days and multiple sittings to finish.

We also stopped at the most enchanting little 50s diner. It was restored to perfection, and I wish I had set my hair and worn my full out pin-up gear for a photoshoot!

It was just the balm my soul needed.

I thought you guys might appreciate my internal commentary over the trip/stay and as I tried to stay awake and avoid driving through NYC:

What is with the speed limit? Why is an interstate 55 mph . . . or 40 mph . . . oooh my . . . they have a minimum speed limit posted.

Whoa, I’m so far away from the South, I’m having problems finding a country station.

I’m going to go crazy driving this slow on an interstate . . . Oh, crap . . . I’m the speeding Virginia driver.

Why are there this many cops on the road?

These people can’t drive . . . that’s what’s up with the speed limit and the cops. If I survive this trip, it will be a miracle.

There are Grinder shoppes instead of sub shops.

I do not trust Gumbo or Jambalaya this far on the other side of the Mason Dixon Line.

There were apparently only three options for naming streets – something that sounds university-related (Yale, etc.), men’s names that end with two t’s like in Prescott and Talbott, or Native American names that are all o’s and c’s.

If I wake up tomorrow and this place doesn’t at least look a little like Stars Hollow, I want a do-over.

Yesss. There’s a gazebo.

These people are serious about their Land Rover.

Apparently all roads lead to NYC.

I realllly don’t want to think about driving in NYC.

I’m NOT driving in NYC. I’ll bail out and U-turn if I have to.

Ahh, bypassing NYC. YES.

mmmmmm. Home.

New Year’s Getaway

Happy New Year, everyone!

Did you know that every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation? Crazy, right?

Now that we’re into 2019, I finally get my third week of vacation for my upcoming 5-year anniversary at work. On top of the extra week, I like a lot of other Americans didn’t take all of my vacation days last year, so I rolled some over to use this year.

Since I didn’t get to the beach last year, I’ve really been wanting a stress-free, laid-back vacation, so The Fellow and I decided to take a 4-day weekend over New Year’s, and we rented a cabin near Luray, Virginia.

The Angler Cabin run by Shenandoah Outfitters was everything we wanted – a small log cabin near the river, in the woods, 17 miles from town, and about 7 miles deep on a gravel road. Peace and Quiet!

The cabin was small – one large bedroom in the back with a propane fireplace that served well to dry our towels and swimsuits, a loft with a bed, a tiny kitchen, and a small living area with a futon and a satellite tv. It had a front porch, a firepit, and best of all – a hot tub!

There are four cabins clustered together and all are similarly built; however, I feel like our cabin was possibly built first, and they reconfigured the porch size/layout to accommodate the hot tubs after ours was built as the hot tub for our cabin was around the corner in a separate pavilion, but the rest all had them directly on their porches.

We hung out, snuggled, watched a movie, played board games, and ate realllly good food all weekend. In the mornings, I hung out on the porch and read with my cup of coffee while The Fellow slept in. It was such a luxury to just be able to read all day! It was absolutely what I needed and the perfect start to the New Year!

Bad Road Tripper

Hey There!

Guys, I’m a bad road tripper. Actually, I’m a good road tripper. I’m just a bad road trip planner . . .

I want to go on more adventures, but the planning to go on a road trip stage just kills me. I’m going to visit a friend in Connecticut soon, and I’ve put off finalizing travel details because it’s so overwhelming for so long that I’m just going to drive.

The issue I was running into with my travel plans was weighing all the alternative means of transportation. I could drive two hours to an airport, wait for an hour or two there to board the plane, then fly into CT, which basically takes the same amount of time as driving, or drive two and a half hours to the bus which then takes an additional 5 hours with bus transfers. For all that I may as well drive myself.

Thankfully, I enjoy driving. I do my best thinking in the car, and, if I’m honest, on occasion I miss my commute to work.

When I go on a long road trip, I love to blare my music and sip on some coffee. My beverage habit also means I have an excuse to stop every few hours and check out a little rest stop or cute visitor area.

I”m so excited to explore CT with a dear friend!

What are your trip planning tips and road trip survival tricks? Let me know so I can try them!

DIY Stainless Steel Etching

Hey There!

I hope that everyone’s Christmases were wonderful!

We managed to get all of our Christmas presents finished and wrapped in time. The Fellow helped me out so much this year. I really couldn’t have gotten it all done without him!

He was so confused when it came time to wrap gifts because I bought a 4-pack of wrapping paper and insisted that we color code the gifts by family. It made me chuckle, so I posted about it on social media and there were a ton of women who commented saying they do the same. A girl’s gotta have her systems, right?

I was so pleased with our DIY gifts and how easy they were to make that I wanted to share the process with you. You’re going to need something metal to etch (like a double-walled insulated cup), a 9-volt battery, alligator lead clips, Q-tips, and a glass of salt water.

The biggest part of this project is making a stencil. Fortunately for me, The Fellow has a Silhouette. The silhouette program can be a bit tricky to learn, but thankfully, he’s pretty skilled in it so getting the names and words printed was easy enough. If you don’t have a cutting machine, you can always use stickers or cut out a design using painter’s tape.Just keep in mind thicker lines work best. The design below is a bit thin.

Once you’ve got a stencil, adhere it to whatever metal item you’re going to etch.

You wouldn’t think that something as mundane as salt water and a 9-volt battery could etch stainless steel, but it can!

To set things up to begin etching you will first need to clip the red positive cable to the positive terminal on the battery, then the black negative cable to the negative terminal. Next clip the positive cable to the item you’re working on, and then grab a sea salt-soaked Q-tip with the negative clip. (Other tutorials I read say you should soak the Q-tips in the water, but I found it was too much and you ended up flooding the stickers off. You do want it to be thoroughly moistened though- not dry.)

Carefully dab the exposed spaces of metal in your stencil with the Q-tip. As you move the Q-tip, you’ll see the end become discolored. If you listen carefully enough you can hear a little sizzle and you’ll see the metal go cloudy. The more you hold the Q-tip onto the metal, the deeper the etching. You really don’t need much to make your design clear.

After you’re done etching, remove your stencil, give it a quick rinse, and it’s ready to use! Isn’t it amazing?! I want to personalize everything now!

Best Laid Plans

Hey There!

Remember how I said that I wanted to have all of my Christmas presents purchased by December first? Yea . . . that definitely didn’t quite work out as I had planned.

It’s a week from Christmas, and I was just out buying last minute gifts.

It seems like this year I couldn’t pin down the -perfect- thing for just about anyone! My dining room table is covered with crafts to finish and gifts to wrap.

Even though things are hectic, it will all get done somehow. It always does.

I managed to score a Christmas gift that had been sold out online in the most unlikely of places – the UPS store!

Earlier this year, I accidentally signed up for Amazon Prime and with the holidays upon us, I  haven’t canceled it just yet.

There was a garment I’d bought that didn’t fit right and the return code was getting ready to expire (You know you do that too!), so I went into the local UPS store to send it back. Being the busy season for packages, there was a line. I hopped in line and noticed that the lady in front of me had the item I was looking for and was returning it! 

I struck up a conversation and asked her about it. She’d found it online for half the price of the other sites I’d been looking at but ended up wanting a larger size for her grandson. 

She already had the correct-sized item and was lamenting the fact that she’d thrown away the box and would have to buy a new one on top of the shipping!

Sensing my opportunity, I asked her if she’d sell it to me and save herself the shipping/box cost, and she said, “Yes!” 

I think that after tonight we’re pretty well set and can wrap things up this weekend.

I hope that you have all of your shopping done and you are enjoying a stress-free holiday season with family and loved ones!

. . . Who’s This Guy?

Hey There!

Ooooh, friends. I feel like it’s been a long while since we’ve had one of those “This could only happen to me” stories. Well, in this case it’s a “This could only happen to my family” story.

You may recall that in December we always go up to visit the family graves and lay wreaths on the headstones. 

Now you would think that this would be a relatively calm day. Laid back, quiet even. I know that’s more or less what I expected. 

We creep through the entrance of the cemetery and up to the family plot. My father hops out, let’s the tailgate down, pulls the first wreath out, and begins to adjust the ornaments and bows, while my grandmother and I go back and forth about whether it’s too cold to get out of the car. Eventually, both she and I bumble out of the car and join my father and mother walking up to the plot.

As we near the headstone, my father stops. Still holding the wreath, he looks down at a grave just barely covered with new grass and goes, “Huh. Who’s this guy?”

It was absolutely the last thing I anticipated him saying. But sure enough, we had a new neighbor. 

Now we had always been told that the family plot had four spaces left. The plot is a square, and there is a family headstone in the center of the plot. Currently, there are two spaces occupied both in front of the headstone and on the back side of the headstone.

The remaining four spots are also split with two in the front and two in the back; however, they’re split (and I can’t help but want to describe it like a 2-pin split in bowling) with one on each side of the current tenant. Upon closer inspection, our new neighbor is juuuuuuuust outside of a newly discovered plot marker to the left of a very, very tiny open plot that I don’t believe any new vault will fit.

Needless to say, the family is a bit concerned and will be reaching out to the cemetery to review plot boundaries and the like, but really – what does one DO at this point?!

He’s rather settled into his new digs at this point. (Sorry, too punny? Too terrible?) I told my parents that I don’t need a spot anyway. I’m rather attached to the idea of being cremated and turned into one of those memorial tree pods. Heck, I may even buy an acre or two of land somewhere and put down some roots. Make a family plot – add a picnic table, tire swing. That way the family can all get together for summer picnics . . . 

What would you do in this situation? Let me know!

Annie’s Country Creamery – Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

Hey There!

I know. I know. It’s December. The time of year for hot cocoa, wassail, and egg nog – not ice cream.But let’s be real. I love ice cream any time of the year.My folks and I were up in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, the other day visiting my grandmother, and we decided to swing by a new ice cream parlor a cousin had recommended – Annie’s Country Creamery.

We had initially intended just to drive by and see where it was located, but after some discussion we decided to go ahead and stop in because a big chocolate milkshake with whipped cream on top sounded absolutely amaaazing.
I only wish I had some French fries to dunk in it! (Seriously, try it if you haven’t.)Annie’s is a neat little spot because it’s attached to a little country store; however, the ice cream alone made it ABSOLUTELY worth the stop! 

Keeping it local, they serve Windy Knoll small batch ice cream from up the road in Chambersburg. There are a ton of flavors to pick from and you can take a carton home with you.

I’m SO glad we decided to stop and check it out!

Don’t Judge a Book . . .

Hey There! 

Everyone knows better than to judge a book by its cover, right? But is it ok to judge a gal by her bookshelf?

I don’t know your opinion on that, but I might judge juuuuuust a bit.

I merged and rearranged two bookshelves in my living room the other day, and I LOVE how it came out!

I even saved a bit of room for some Christmas decorations!

Over the years, I’ve definitely read my share of terrible  books, but they never really stuck around. 

The books that have stuck around at this point are old friends, even if there are one or two guilty pleasures stuck in there. (Seriously, I’ve re-read Glitter Baby probably a dozen times.)

I’ve moved these books from apartment to apartment, and the funny thing is I always organize them the same way.

I saw some blasphemous thing a while back on Pinterest that organized bookshelves by cover color, but I just can’t get behind it.

Regardless of how many times I’ve moved my books, the groupings always stay the same.

Starting at the top:

Eragon because it falls into fantasy and I didn’t want to have too many series together on the next shelf down, fairy books (yes, there are multiple), fairy tales, plus Gone With The Wind and related titles.

Next shelf:

A Series of Unfortunate Events, classics, and weird library castoffs I love.

Last shelf:

Mostly Christian historical romance novels, Anne of Green Gables, and  Irish books.

Are you judging my book choices at all? What is your system for organizing your books?