Sunday, January 26, 2014

Two Polar Vortexes in Pictures

2014 has been cold. Like really cold. Like we've created a new weather term to describe the cold. Introducing you to Polar Vortex 1 & 2.

This was the night that the first Polar Vortex reared its chilly head.

We were keeping Mosley while Cap and J were home for the holidays. Poor pup shivered his way through our snowy walks like a trooper. I think it was 5 degrees on this particular morning.

The beauty of it all almost makes up for the debilitating cold. Almost.

When Polar Vortex Numero Dos showed up last week, it was kind of like old news... 

....until it dropped about six inches of snow in a 24 hour span.

These pictures are not an accurate representation of all of the snow. Due to the bitterest of winds, a good bit of snow was displaced. The white cat begs like a banshee to be let out on the balcony. She doesn't really know what snow is, but thankfully, she doesn't like it. This outing lasted about two minutes.

 I had to work late on Friday and nearly missed one of the most gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen. If there is one thing that I will miss about the bitter winter months, it is the jaw-dropping beauty of the sunsets. I think it must be the sun's way of showing us a little lovin' through a colorful display. I wish that I had been close to my big girl camera and in a better location to catch the perfect pinkness of the sun's rays glowing over the mountains. The intensity of the pink in the reflection on the river was nothing to the depth of color burning in the sky. IPhones just can't capture it all.

W and I basked in the 30 degree weather Saturday night and walked to the river to get some pictures of what I hoped would be another epic sunset. Alas, it was not the gloriously pink performance of the previous evening.

 There were dark and ominous clouds rushing towards us from the West.

W indulged in a few more snowballs accidentally thrown at ducks floating down the river and rolling chunks of snow down the bank before we retreated inside to the warmth and some homemade risotto.
About 30 minutes after getting inside, we had a whiteout and mini blizzard move through. It lasted for about 30 minutes and also included a phenomenon known as "snowthunder." In the middle of the blizzard, there were two lightning strikes and a loud clap of thunder. The wind was insane and we could barely see across the street.

I thought the world was surely ending.

This morning, W left for his FINAL residency interview EVER. He has an 8 hour drive to Birmingham ahead of him. Unfortunately, I have to stay behind in cold and snowy WV. We have less than a month before his rank list is due, and less than 60 days until we find out where we will spend the next 5-9 years of our life.

Exciting times! Stay warm!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

B's Woe Curing Weekend

On Friday, sleep-deprived and cold, I decided that four of the residents of 1408 could use a big, piping hot pot of soup for dinner. I felt that I owed Cap and J something major for J rescuing me at 3am from my boiler motor nightmare. W was also driving home from his interview in a snowstorm. Nothing fixes life's little woes like a pot of soup!

I love minestrone soup, so I sucked up my hate of chopping butternut squash and made Ina's winter minestrone. Make it. It won't disappoint.

I decided that we needed some serious veggies--all organic--to combat the chemical spill of the previous week. I kind of went all out. It was delicious!

On Saturday morning we did my most favorite thing ever: antiquing. I scored these awesome vintage cocktail forks for $2 at my favorite local haunt, South Charleston Antique Mall.  


I fell in love with this pink rug. I am pretty sure it belongs to the same vendor I got my Swedish MCM dining chairs from. If so, I know him personally and might be calling him this week to find out the "friend" special for this beauty. ;) I mean, even W liked it and was excited by the prospect of expanding our vintage/antique rug collection!

I mean, isn't it just perfection?!

Then, we did W's favorite thing: ethnic food, specifically Vietnamese, specifically coconut chicken curry. I love the banh mi bo.

YUM. To everything pictured above. Except maybe the dude over W's shoulder.

This is South Charleston, WV's downtown, where the antique shop and Yen's are located. Interesting fact, South Charleston is actually west of Charleston--its just on the south side of the river. Directly behind me is a prehistoric Indian burial mound.

It was about 20 degrees and sneeting (snowing/sleeting). But, W and I (sans my super warm $130 coat.....) braved it and the ankle-breaking stone steps.

On Sunday, we indulged in a little thing (and new weekly tradition--for better or worse) I like to call cheese o'clock. The boys also got together and had a rather stress-inducing chat about residency. I just stuffed my face with cheese, plugged my ears and hummed.

So far, this weekend has proven to be the antithesis to the first two weeks of 2014. Let's keep this up, universe!


*Editor's note: This post should have gone up mid-week but yet another string of bad luck pushed it from my mind. Just call me Scrooge. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I went home, and found a little Cap.

Water line from Hurricane Katrina.  My Pops used to call me "Katrina, Katrina"... I couldn't resist.

Hi friends,

It's been quite a while since I've blogged, and for that... I am truly sorry!  I've been enjoying life outside of the internet lately, and as grandma as it sounds... I have become a fan of silence.  I drink my coffee in silence, sit on the couch in silence, run in silence, drive in silence... you get the picture.  I worked in a coffee shop inside a very crowded mall over the holidays, and I became a lover for all things silent and non-christmasy.  Yes, I was a down right scrooge, and I'm only just now becoming a better, kinder individual!  J and I spent Christmas in Charleston without our families this year.  I cried, ate cajun inspired meals and drank mimosas the whole way through.  We were able to go home a few days after Christmas, and Cap, as you once knew her, was officially restored.

I can love again!

It's funny how much I talk about home these days.  I'm sure my local friends are sick of my constant gush over New Orleans, Gumbo, Eggs Benedict, my family, boudin, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, King Cake, and did I mention food?  I talk about food a lot.  I'm always so happy to go home, and I always turn into a little 2 year old (who just found out her mother will not let her eat ice cream for breakfast) whenever I have to leave.  It's a really sad, hilarious, sobbing, red nosed, puffy face sight... and honestly, I should film it one day so I can make millions for looking like a total spastic case.  Home is one of those places that I know I love, but it's only when I'm there that I realize...

I really effing love this place and all of the crazy, glorious people who live here.

Apparently, 2014 is the year Cap turns into a hormonal woman.  At least, that's the only explanation I can conjure up for the flooding of my tear ducts.  2014 has transformed me into a crier.  I wish it weren't so, but these days... I can only express happiness, sadness, love, passion, excitement and fear through crying.  What is wrong with me?

From the moment I landed in Baton Rouge, the tears flowed down like waterfalls, and they only semi slowed pace two days ago.  My friends and family could only laugh at my lame attempt to fight back the tears.  Here's why:

I cried when I thought I couldn't spend my sister's birthday with her in New Orleans.
I cried when I found out I could.
I cried when I saw my BFF, Corbin, in the airport.
I cried when I realized how tall he was.
I cried when I noticed Jackson was a tall, smart, freakishly handsome, crazy-cool teenager.
I cried when my Father-in-Law bragged on me.
I cried when my niece cried over not getting to spend the night with me.
I cried when she spent the night with me.
I cried when she read to me.
I cried when I was road tripping with my mom and realized I only had two more days with her.
I cried when I saw my nephew for the first time.
I cried when I left the Graham's and Brown's house.
I cried when Nicole bought me a King Cake.
I cried during a massage.
I cried during an evening run.
And I nearly had a flat out heart attack when I left my grandmother.

....And I'm crying now as I type about crying.  BLAH!

I can't describe what leaving home  4 years ago was like, but I'm going to try like hell in these next few sentences...

Leaving was an adventure.  It was fun, challenging, exciting, motivating, and scary.  I wasn't nervous about leaving, I was only nervous that I may find something outside of Louisiana that would make me not want to go back.  And, if I'm being honest, that has already happened (which is why I think I cry so much these days).  I love home, and all of the people in it... but if you ask me to make a definite answer to continue living my dreams, or go home - I would probably disappoint you.  J and I always talk about going home, but that reality is still 6-7 years away.  We both have plans to discover uncharted land, and I love that more.  The scary thing is that I can make all of these brave, selfish decisions when I'm stuck in Charleston, WV for a while, but when you bring me home.... I just want to pitch a tent on Highland road, and throw all of those crazy scholarly aspirations to the curbside.

Anyway... this is not my journal, so I will stop boring you with my rambling, mind labyrinth.


While I was home, I got to spend some quality time with my sister.  She constantly reminds me that one can never be too late, overdressed, too smart, or have too much fun.

She makes this whole life thing grand.

She dressed me in her designer wear.
I felt so fetch.

After my New Orleans trip with Leah, I went back to Baton Rouge to smother myself in family, friends, nonacademic reading, and (once again) good food.  These pictures should be able to tell a better story...

I hope you all were able to discover a little bit of yourself over the holidays...
Welcome to 2014!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Grimacing a Smile

It should be no surprise to you that last week was a rough one for me and pretty much all of Charleston, West Virginia and the adjacent eight counties. Oh, you live under a rock? Inform yourself!

You might remember from this post that I was already commiserating the pretty miserable start to a week that I had no idea was only going to get worse, i.e. the chemical spill that tainted the tap water of nearly 300,000 people. The week started off as any first week of a new year should with a BANG. But there are good BANGS and bad BANGS and this was most definitely a bad BANG.

It started off with two days of below zero temperatures that my furnace could only keep up with to the tune of 62 degrees in our apartment. Luckily, I had my new and incredibly warm winter coat to help me fight back.

Until that is the realization that this $130 winter coat that had quickly become the love of my life had a gigantic tear sprouting from the top of the zipper. This tear was not an easy fix and was only getting bigger. Said coat had to be shipped back to COLUMBIA at my expense so that they could analyze it for 4-6 weeks to determine whether or not the tear was a result of my error or manufacturer's error and thus covered by a warranty to be repaired or replaced. I will keep you updated on this one. But just know that my cold little heart will be shivering for the next 4 to 6 weeks sans my dear, beloved coat.

Typical J and W.

Then, my Hunter boots, graciously gifted to me by Victoria, both sprung a leak. On the same day. BOTH OF THEM. I wanted to cry. I wear those things ever day, everywhere. I feel a little lost without them. I have contacted Hunter but have yet to hear back from them concerning possible repairs, which I would gladly pay for myself. So, in the meantime, :( sad face.

Then, a tree fell on my office and my car. You will remember that from my earlier post. The car is okay just sporting some new scratches and dents. No biggie, right?

Yeah, no biggie, until said car breaks down on W while he is interviewing 6 hours away. You won't believe what it took to fix it. $500!!!!!!!!!!

But that happened after the chemical leak--news of which broke to the public at about 6pm. TEN HOURS AFTER THE CHEMICAL HAD SEEPED INTO THE ELK RIVER AND SUBSEQUENTLY OUR WATER SYSTEMS. I was aware of a very funky smell in my apartment bathroom at about 5:15 on Thursday afternoon. I didn't think much of it and decided to go for a run, which thankfully didn't progress past a brisk walk. Nearing the end of my walk, I received a text message from a friend warning of the chemical spill. Sure enough, by the time I got home around 5:50, we and about 299,998 people were under a water ban. Water was only to be used for flushing toilets and putting out fires. Comforting, right? W left for his interview the next morning, lucky guy. He got a nice hot, hotel shower! I, well, I washed my hair in a bucket with two inches of water and a bottle of water. Invigorating.

That Saturday, Cap, J and I ventured about 30 minutes west of town to a non-tainted water area to shower at the YMCA. When we got there, the women's line was about 30 people long and I nearly had a meltdown right there next to the kiddie pool. I had left my phone in the car and went to retrieve it, and ran into our savior. No, not that savior. This savior was Meagan, a fellow Junior League girl who I barely knew. That sweet lady invited us to her friend's house where she was staying because of the spill and we were able to shower. Then, we ate restaurant food, which = food you don't have to clean up after since there is no usable water to wash dishes and/or make said food. What a way to lift your spirits!

Until, W calls and tells of his car trouble in the middle of your delicious mushroom-smothered patty melt and margarita.

Happy Freaking 2014, B. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

We were without water from Thursday afternoon until Monday at noon. I showered that afternoon and have had no adverse effects. The smell in the water was the worst in our apartment on Saturday and Sunday. It was so bad that I had to open windows because it was burning my eyes. By Monday and after the "flush," the smell was still noticeable but was not hurting my eyes like before.

(By the way, we continue to drink, cook and brush our teeth with bottled water.)

So, things were looking up, right? Wrong.

Wednesday afternoon, the heat in the office breaks. No biggie. Its fixed Thursday afternoon.

:) Happy face.

Skip to the wee hours of this (Friday) morning--3am to be exact--and I am awakened by the loudest roaring and rattling I have ever heard coming from our radiators. (Did I mention that W left Thursday for an interview 6 hours away??!) It literally sounded like the house was about to take off and shoot into outer space. My heart was pounding and I had no clue what to do, so I sat on the floor and called W, sobbing into my hands and praying for a break. I thought that surely the whole house must have been roaring and was waiting for Cap and J to call, but nothing. I ran outside and their lights were still off. Of course, it was a B problem. Just little ole lonesome me and an exploding boiler. Duh. Silly me for thinking I had company in my troubles. I called and texted Cap and J until I finally woke them up (sorry, guys!). By that time, I had turned my thermostat down and the noise was getting fainter. J came to the rescue and we shut the gas off from the boiler. I got back in the bed at 4am and lay there wide awake until about 5:15. The fear of a boiler/gas explosion was pretty minimal at that point, but I couldn't ignore the rhythmic "whom-whom-whom" of the boiler motor that continued to spin for the rest of the morning. I catnapped off and on until 9.

Thanks to a 3:30am phone call to my landlord and subsequent text messages, a repairman was at the house by 11. Luckily, the motor just needed a little bit of oil and all is fixed. Such a simple solution for something I thought would surely end in death.

But, man! I tell you, the universe is seriously trying to make herself heard.

Universe, you have my full attention.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hillbilly Hotdogs

On Saturday morning after our obligatory visit to the flea market, which was really just a drive-by because the cold temperatures had kept vendors and us at bay, W and I made a detour on the way home onto I-64 West and decided to take a little road trip. Initially, we were just going to visit a few antique shops at exits about 25 minutes outside of Charleston, but I remembered that there was a place called Hillbilly Hotdogs out in that direction (Lesage, WV). Knowing W's affinity for hotdogs, I googled it and found it to be about 20 minutes beyond our original destination. It was noon and with a healthy spinach smoothie each in our bellies, we decided it couldn't hurt to check out this local celebrity.

Its pretty famous in these parts and on a certain Food Network show, which I won't mention.... because I can't stand the host. But I'm sure you can figure out the show considering what a (hint, hint) dive this place is. We didn't really know what to expect. I hadn't heard that much about it and had never visited the website. I knew it was across the street from a river, but that was about it.

It has the look of shanty-town, flea market, junk yard, dump, shack, etc. all rolled into one. Apparently, people bring random things and put them all around wherever they want. I guess it is an encouraged tradition? Also, you are encouraged to leave your mark and sign any spot available.

The menu is huge with everything from hotdogs to hamburgers to salads to sandwiches--not at all what I was expecting. You order at the counter and then take a seat in one of two old school buses-turned dining rooms.

W and I are pretty conservative when it comes to our hotdogs. I don't eat them without slaw. W doesn't eat them without chili. So, our orders were a little boring. However, the folks in front of us went all out and got a taco hotdog and the one with mac and cheese on it. They said they were both delicious. We will gladly take their word for it!

W got two Hillbilly dogs and I got a West Virginia dog. Of course, we had to get sides. We got the garlic fries which are smothered in cheese, bacon and (YUM) ranch. I have never been able to say no to a fried pickle, so we got an order of those as well. I was much impressed with the condiment they provided with the pickles--ranch dressing. Usually, places serve honey mustard, but I am a ranch girl all the way and it was perfect.

You could spend at least an hour wandering around outside, investigating all of the odds and ends hung and stuck and set here and there.

In case you couldn't figure out what show it was featured on, you can see the sign in the picture below.

This face just about sums up the entire 45 minutes we spent there and the amount of calories consumed. Antiquing probably should have been done prior to eating all of this, but we were still able to tromp around some places for a few hours.

I highly recommend a visit! It is definitely a true West Virginia experience.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Watch out for that tree!

This blog was supposed to be about the awesome little (40 minute) road trip that W and I took on a whim this Saturday, but that will have to wait.

You see, I'm a little distracted by the giant hackberry tree that fell on my office and partially on my car earlier today.

You see, the day already wasn't going that well. I recently took over doing the finances for the museum on top of everything else. I was excited for the opportunity to learn a new aspect of running a business, but I think I was a little too confident. There are some days when I just key in a few numbers and hope for the best.

Well, its not that bad, but it seems like it to me through the number haze.

When the tree fell, I was on the phone with my treasurer attempting to explain the financial reports that I barely understood myself. And then I heard scratching over my head. At first, it sounded like a very large animal was doing calisthenics in the attic and then it was pretty obvious that a tree was falling on the roof. My coworker ran out the door and started yelling about "a tree!" and "our cars!" as the tree slid off the roof and came to rest on my car. By this point, I was crouched under my desk attempting to put on my boots and coat while hanging up with my treasurer and chanting Hail Marys.

I thought my coworker and I were going to be crushed by a tree--she by the trunk because she was standing outside and me by the collapsing roof. Luckily, none of the above happened. Thank goodness.

My car is okay, too--just a few scratches and some pretty gnarly dents. But it runs and is safe, so I'm okay with that.

It did take the tree company an hour to cut my car out and there is still half of a tree laying on the office roof, but all is well that end's well. The roof is not badly damaged and that makes one less tree to worry about come derecho season. Positivity!

But after it all happened, I started to feel really sorry for myself. It is so hard for me these days to have something like this happen and to not take it personally. I can't help but feel like the universe is moving against me. Its like its trying to show me (and, boy, has it) that I am not where I should be. (And, I totally agree.) I know that I can take these circumstances (did I mention the other two trees that have fallen on the property; or the hardwood floor that had to be replaced; or the two--not one but TWO--cars that hit my previous museum during my tenure; I could keep going) any number of ways. Maybe, its my attitude. Maybe, its my location. My job. Who knows?

I know its not W. He is my everything.

Then, W and I decided we needed Mexican for dinner to help me properly wallow in my self-pity, and it was just awful. The extra large bowl of pico de gallo that I like to shove my face in tasted like soap. Soap! Can you develop that aversion to cilantro overnight?! I hope not! And then, my hard shell beef taco was cold. I had to send it back. I've never even heard of sending food back at a Mexican restaurant.

I took it personally.

And then, there's the cold. Not that I want to talk about it, but it's really freaking cold. Like the Jesus statue on my favorite trail is wearing red gloves it's so cold.

told you...

Our radiators can't keep up, so it is perpetually 60 degrees in our apartment. Luckily, we have an oil heater that I can practically sit on and a heater in the bathroom wall.

So, I'm getting over it all. Right now. Eating chocolate and watching The Biggest Loser. Because, is there any other way to watch The Biggest Loser?

I realize that things could be much, much worse and that is why I am now sitting cozily on top of my heater in doubled-up pajamas and gloves and a hat talking to you all. The pity party is over.

Want to really know what got me out of my funk? Firstly, we are toilet training our cats. Yes, we are teaching them to use the toilet instead of a litter box. Secondly, it is going quite well and we are not at all embarrassed. I mean, we are banking on being litter free in a month. Two cats and litter free?! Miracles!! Tonight was a first for this whole process though. It was the first time that both of the cats and one of us had to use the bathroom at the exact same time. (Oh yeah, there's only one toilet!) I won't say which one of us it was.................... but I got a major kick out of the frantically meowing and pacing cats and the unfortunate human bathroom occupant, the object of the meowing and pacing and door scratching.

I also have something exciting to look forward to this weekend! I am hosting a little Golden Globes party on Sunday. There will be these cheese puffs and this artichoke and feta tart and this raspberry tart. I can't wait to get baking and cooking!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year and New Goals

Goals are positive achievements--something I can work with. The word "resolutions" just seems so naggy and I don't respond well to nagging. So, rather than resolve to do anything in 2014, I would like to set goals for things that I would like to accomplish in this new year.

1. Take more pictures.

I apologize to all of you who follow me on Instagram. My brother says that he doesn't look at it anymore because I post too much. But, sometimes, that one Instagram picture is the highlight of my day! Finding the beauty in life's everyday routines is something to be celebrated. I just choose to do my celebrating through Instagram. I mean, its kind of hard to not find beauty with Instagram and its filters as your lens.

ALSO, I finally got my dream camera. I can't wait to explore the world with it. Don't worry. I have no desire to be a professional photographer, but I so enjoy capturing life's little and beautiful moments. I can't wait to try it outside of my very limiting IPhone.

2. Make more things.

I love DIY projects, but am pretty terrible with follow-through. I am not a crafter. I think I'm crafty, but crafts just seem like so much work with so little gain for me. And, it is all totally due to my perfectionism and impatience. I just don't have the stamina to craft.

I love cooking and decorating and would like to do more of those two things in the new year. I hate that cooking can often feel like a boring chore. I have decided to make an addendum goal to this one to use recipes from my Junior League cookbooks (all EIGHT of them that I was required to buy). These recipes are great because they usually aren't too fussy and so far have been delicious. I've made crabcakes, remoulade, cornbread and pork loin with mustard sauce from them in just the past two days! I also made a chocolate glazed chocolate tart that turned out to be just what W's dark chocolate dreams are made of. He nearly ate half of it in one sitting. I am one to turn my nose up at baking and sniff (because I'm melodramatic and impatient and, alas, a terrible baker), but this time I stooped (kidding) and baked. And, I really enjoyed the process. I totally freaked beforehand and read the recipe about 12 times, but, in hindsight, that is probably what normal people do. My aversion to reading recipes through completely before beginning is my biggest downfall.

3. Seems only appropriate this should be bake more. (?!Can't believe I just typed that?!)


2014 is going to be a major year for us.

W will graduate from medical school!! Thank the good, dear, beloved and holy Lord above all that is living and breathing and eking it out down here.

We find out on March 21 where he matched for residency. Cue fireworks.

We will move. Cue hallelujah chorus and part the heavens.

To our new home for the next 5 to 7 years. Cue panic attacks.

W GETS A PAYCHECK. W GETS A PAYCHECK. W GETS A PAYCHECK. (I will still probably make more than him. Heh. Heh.)

Maybe we'll buy a house? Maybe we'll be moving into a 500 sq. ft. apartment in the Upper East Side?  Maybe we'll have 1.66 children by year's end? Ha. Maybe we'll adopt multiple kittens?

Maybe--just maybe--we will have the best year of our lives yet?

Here's hoping! Cheers to you and 2014!