December 28, 2013

If you've described one festival, you've pretty much described them all.








I had pint sized expectations going into the Global Winter Wonderland event at Turner Field, but it was a refreshing little surprise. International decor illuminated every corner; there were food stands serving dishes from all over the world, carnival rides, circus acts, acrobats and probably more that I didn't get around to seeing.

I'm also impressed by how well my iPhone 5s camera did in the dimly lit setting, since this is the first time I've really used it at night. Atlanta's skyline was gorgeous from the top of the ferris wheel, so I'm glad I was able to do a piece of it some digital justice.

And that's really all I have to say about that, because if you've described one festival, you've pretty much described them all.

December 26, 2013

An uneventfully festive few days





Christmas Eve was supposed to be spent doing laundry. My hamper is still full. It didn't happen. Who knows when it will. Thankfully I got to sleep in and lounge around all morning before heading over to my mom's place. To my surprise, she wasn't there when I showed up, so I sat around in front of the space heater with my iced coffee, watched a couple movies and waited for her to show up. By the time she arrived, it was almost time for me to head to church for the Christmas Eve gathering (read: service), so we talked for a few minutes and I dipped off into the sunset. Passion City was completely packed (people lined up outside waiting for the doors to open), and I ended up watching the message from the lobby with the other doorholders (read: volunteers).

Later that evening, Meredith came over for our gift exchange, and we spent the rest of the night talking, sipping wine, eating pizza and catching up in general. Christmas morning was supposed to be spent sleeping in, again, but the Merry Christmas calls came rolling in around 8am so I dragged myself out of bed and made my way to the couch. It's been a LAZY few days, and my eating habits aren't exactly contributing to my overall health, so a cleanse of some sort is definitely in the works for the new year. Nothing extreme. I don't have the patience to juice all day, but it's time to get my sweet tooth in check.

Anywho, around 8am, I dragged myself out of bed, heated up some leftovers from the day before, found a few good movies to watch and plopped a spot on my couch (insert selfie here above). Moms cooked dinner so I went back over to her place for our gift exchange and more quality time. Yadda yadda yadda, long story short, it's been an uneventfully festive few days, but nonetheless, I'm still grateful for them. I'm also grateful for the turkey burger that got in my belly for lunch today. Dear God, thank you for blessing me with the mouth to devour the aforementioned turkey burger, and thank you for the girl in the back who so diligently prepared the aforementioned turkey burger. It hit all my hunger spots. Amen.



December 21, 2013

According to my server, it's pronounced "Fuh".

 


It seems like every other week I'm on the search for a different type of food to satisfy an intense craving.  A while back, I wrote about my hunt for a well-blended açaí bowl, and I once drove 30 minutes out of the way (on my lunch break) for the perfect chili dog. This is where I start shaking my head and feeling sorry for my future husband when it comes time to deal with my pregnancy cravings. If they're even the least bit worse than my regular cravings, that man's got his work cut out for him.

Lately I've been wanting a good bowl of Pho, a dish I've never had and wasn't even sure how to pronounce. To my delight, Scoutmob was offering a special at a spot down the street from my office building, so there was no need for me to drive around town (but I would've if I had to). As soon as lunchtime hit, I grabbed my jacket and made my merry little way to Com Dunwoody Vietnamese Grill, and that bowl of Pho hit every spot I could've asked it to hit. Oh, and according to my server, it's pronounced "Fuh". They didn't honor my Scoutmob discount because I opted for the lunch special, and it was already heavily discounted - and worth every penny. Served with a side of Spring Rolls, my meal had me feeling satisfied AND healthy, so I ran around the corner for a treat to tickle my sweet tooth.

Nom.




December 18, 2013

'Twas the week before Christmas

 source

... and all through the hood, not gift had been bought, but it was all good. Because if there's one thing I know about Disa Chantel, it's that she procrastinates, and she does it well.

After a failed attempt at hanging a string of lights on my patio [only to find that one of the sets doesn't light up and the other isn't long enough to make any kind of festive impression], I started looking through old holiday pictures. Only, I couldn't find any. At least none from recent years. Except for this one, taken on the day of my college graduation a few years back.

December 10, 2013

I love my people. I really do.


There have been so many beautiful Nelson Mandela posts floating around the web since his passing that I had trouble choosing just one to post here. So I decided to post three. I seriously thank God for the figures that have come before my generation and helped make all my opportunities a reality. I also eagerly await the release of his bio epic, starring my man Idris Elba in the title role.

December 10th marks the day I became overwhelmed by the fact that I have to do Christmas shopping this year. As an unmarried woman with zero kids, I fully expect to only ever have to buy a present for Moms come December 25th, but there are all these incredibly wonderful people in my life who continue to ask what's on my wish list, which means they're plotting to get me something, which means I have to add them to my shopping list, which means there's now all this pressure to find something special. Receiving gifts is easy; giving them is the hard part, and I take pride in my gift-giving abilities. Picking out that perfect something takes some real thought, but that's not all that counts, because when you receive a handpicked present from a friend, it always stands as a subliminal test of how well that person knows you.

I once had an ex-boyfriend buy me chocolates for Valentines Day. A little bit of background info: I don't like chocolate. White chocolate? Sure. Caramel? Give me all of it. Standard, Forrest Gump box of chocolates? NO. He had never seen me eat any, ever. And here he shows up at my front door with a teddy bear and a box of candy that went straight into the trashcan after he left. I had previously mentioned (multiple times) how I don't much care for chocolate, and if he had bothered to think about that purchase before he made it, I wouldn't've had to throw away an otherwise perfectly good gesture of his affections. That's the worry that creeps in while I'm out shopping for someone. Even my own mother. What if s/he doesn't like it? If s/he doesn't use it, it's a waste of my money, and I'll have cool points knocked off my friendship score. Not literally, but here I am - years later - still remembering that time a boyfriend bought me chocolate for Valentine's Day. In hindsight, I do so very much appreciate the fact that he tried, and almost got it right, but almost doesn't count. I don't like not getting it right.

I love my people. I really do. But it would be much easier if we could all just gather 'round a bottle of wine and call it Christmas.

Mom (who just creepily texted me as I typed 'mom'...) has decided she wants a new laptop this year, and apparently I'm Santa Claus. I told her I'd have to double check my naughty list and make sure she's in the clear, but I already know I'll be in a Best Buy frenzy with the rest of the last-minute shoppers. What do laptops even retail for these days? I haven't bought one since college, and that Macbook is still getting the job done.




December 2, 2013

It was all a dream


This is the part of the program where I'm supposed to upload photos of all the holiday fun I just had. Except I hardly took any pictures. My camera stayed tucked away in my overnight bad all weekend like a side piece, and I did this crazy thing where I actually enjoyed the moments spent with my family instead of trying to document everything. The two photos above are from the ride into/out of Nashville, a place of which I've taken plenty pictures... so I don't really need more. We rode into town on Friday afternoon, stopped by my favorite spot for their fried pickles [shoutout to Wildhorse Saloon], grabbed some hot chocolate and proceeded to walk around downtown. Once the sun started to set, we headed to my brother's spot and hibernated with movies and popcorn for the next two days. It was a nice, low-key weekend, but now I wish I would've at least had some unsuspecting stranger at the grocery store snap a family photo. Ah well, there's always next time.

On another note, December is here, and this is when I usually start seeing "next year will be my year" tweets and posts. Can I just make every year my year? After taking a look at my new year's resolutions from January [yeah, I made some], I realize why so many people don't even waste time writing a list. The only one I kept was my decision to write more often, which is good, I suppose, but there were many more bullet points that fell into oblivion. Like how I was supposed to start playing my guitar again and be ready to go caroling this holiday season. yeah, caroling. I was also supposed to have visible abs.

*Biggie Smalls voice* it was all a dream.

On yet another note, I'm still in shock about Paul Walker's passing. He was soooooooo fine! Those eyes, that smile. Sweet God, you showed your craftsmanship with that one. It's such an ironic shame that he left this earth the way he did. My friend called me late Saturday afternoon when it was just a rumor, and the second he said "Have you heard anything about Paul Walker dying?" my heart dropped a little bit. It was like I actually knew him. About an hour later, every social media outlet was flooded with updates, and his Instagram follow count tripled. Did I mention how fine he was? The crazy thing is, they were just around the corner from my subdivision filming the next movie in the Fast series, now what? You can't replace Paul Walker after 6 movies. You. can't. That's one moment from this past weekend that I really do wish was a dream.

Rest in love, Paul.



November 27, 2013

Express that gratitude year-round



Happy Thanksgiving! Well... almost. I fully intend to take it easy and keep my belly satisfied for the rest of this week. I deep cleaned my place, knocked out every last work email and went for a run yesterday afternoon, and that's probably the most action my body will get through the end of the month. My kitchen, however, will be getting all the action tomorrow, since the Thanksgiving feast is going down on my turf for the first time ever. Granted, it will only be myself and Moms, but still. Meal for two, please!

In the spirit of the holiday, I'm compiling a list of all the things I'm thankful for. It's always been a tradition to gather around the table and have each individual state the things they're grateful for [as most families probably do], and every year, I'd get stumped when my turn rolled around. Yes, I have countless reasons to give thanks, and I know it, but the cliche answers like "family, life, job, shelter, health" just seemed so run-of-the-mill and generic. They still do. Plus, once it was finally time for me to speak, everyone else had already used up those answers. There was always this understated pressure to say something simple yet unique and maybe even a bit profound. I'd always think, "Can we just get to the food?" but I could never say that. I even felt bad for thinking it. Of course I'm outrageously thankful for many many things, but I constantly do my best to express that gratitude year-round.

For example, I haven't had to take my car to an actual mechanic for a repair in years. Sure, Blu Belle has her issues; she's over 10 years old, but whenever something goes wrong, I have at least three different numbers I can call for help. When my windshield needed replacing, a friend of a friend met me in a Wal-Mart parking lot and did the replacement in under 30 minutes - for cheap. I recently needed my brake pads changed, and another friend of a friend took care of everything for one flat [read:cheap] rate. A couple weeks later, I realized my rotors also needed replacing, and yet another friend knew someone who would do it for free. And then, the regulator in my passenger side power-window decided to fail... it has since been repaired, and all I had to do was purchase the part from Amazon. Seriously, I'm so very thankful for everyone in my life who has ever helped me out with my car. I can't even remember the last time I paid for an oil change.

Next, I appreciate my network of friends who like to eat as much as I do and who I can always count on for some good mealtime conversation. I'm that friend who calls you out the blue, says I'm in the area and asks if you want to get something to eat. The crazy thing is, I have about a 90% success rate with this approach. That's how I best connect with the people in my life: over some bread and wine [literally and figuratively]. I guess there's a reason Jesus emphasized the importance of "breaking bread" with the people we care about, and I don't sit down to eat with just anybody, so.

Other things I'm thankful for include but are not limited to: holiday scented candles and oils - my living room smells like a mix of pine and roasting marshmallows, the snooze option on all alarm clocks, the curse that comes every month and reminds me that everything is working properly within my reproductive system [tmi?], everyone who regularly updates the blogs I follow and gives me a little peek into their lives, and the fact that I no longer work in retail and don't have to deal with this Black Friday madness.

Now... pass me the pumpkin pie.



November 25, 2013

Aren't I Classy


For those people who have been looking for a way to smuggle wine into the movie theater, Walgreens  now has the answer. I'm famous for sneaking food into the movies, and once I tried to slip my iced coffee into a matinee, just to find a huge spill at the bottom of my purse. Over a year later, the inside of that handbag still smells like a caramel latte. It triggers a Starbucks craving every time I wear it. So I imagine that craving would be for cabernet if I had tried to smuggle an open glass of vino into the movie that day. Now I'll never have to worry about that. Aren't I classy?

November 20, 2013

Why they call it comfort food



If you are what you drink, I must've had a few glasses of cough-up-your-lungs this weekend, because that's all I did on Sunday night. It was one of those restless evenings where all you want to do is sleep, but that's near impossible when that tickle in your throat refuses to settle down. My body finally knocked out from exhaustion around 3am on Monday morning, and I woke up at 7ish feeling like I had fell off the back of a truck. Everything ached. My core muscles were spent, and I was in pain just getting out of bed to brush my teeth. I'm the stubborn type who hates taking any kind of medicine because it never really helps anyway. Claritin, Zyrtec and all those other allergy pills do absolutely nothing for my uncontrollable sneezing during allergy season, and Robitussin hasn't calmed a cough for me since kindergarten. I just suffer through the icky-ness and let my immune system do it's job. So that's what my Monday was spent doing: suffering, and sitting on my sofa, looking out on the patio at this lovely [read:blah] view. To make things worse, I caught the worst headache later that afternoon [caffeine withdrawal] [how am I supposed to run to Starbucks when I can barely get up to pee?], and even after I caved and popped some ibuprofen the dang thing just would not go away. Around 9:30pm I crept under my covers, closed my eyes and tried to think about how there are people in the world way more sick than myself and how I should be grateful that this would soon pass.

And whadaya know, I woke up the next morning feeling a good 70% better than the night before. I jumped on my computer, caught up on work and started to get back in my usual routine. By the end of the day, a super deep hunger hit me with some serious aggression, and I met up with a friend for dinner at Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro. Pasta with Grilled Chicken as the main & Bread Pudding for desert... it's after meals like these that I remember why they call it comfort food. I'm already looking forward to my leftovers for lunch.







November 13, 2013

Read, Baby. Read.

Awhile back, Kimberly asked for a few solid book recommendations, and without hesitation, I started rattling off a few recent titles in her comment section. I could've listed at least 15 good reads without coming up for air, but I stopped when I realized I haven't sat down to read a good novel in a few months, maybe longer, and this is extremely out of character for me.

During my grade school years, when summer break hit, all the kids in my neighborhood would play outside from dusk 'til dawn. No exaggeration here. We only went inside to eat, pee (confession: sometimes we just peed outside) or grab a different toy/game to play with. Every morning I would wake up anticipating the excitement that was waiting for me outside the walls of our house. But every morning my mom would lay out a list of academic work I had to finish before I could go out and play. She bought math and science workbooks with countless pages for me to complete, and every week I had to write a book report. YES, a book report. Do kids still do those these days? I haaaated it. There I was sitting on the couch in our living room, with a calculator in one hand and a Nancy Drew novel in the other, trying to survive the torture of hearing all the hopskotch and hide-and-seek fun I was missing on the other side of my front door, because none of the other kids' parents made them do schoolwork on a sunny afternoon in July. It was the bane of my pre-pubescent existence, but I forced my way through one book after another, just so I could finally go outside with my friends.

On days when there were no kids to play with and nothing entertaining to watch on TV, I'd approach my mom with a phrase she hated hearing: "I'm bored." Pretty soon I learned my lesson about that one, because she'd come up with a laundry list of things for me to do around the house. If I was still bored after that, she'd just tell me to read. Read, Baby. Read.

Well... twenty years later, here I am with this knack for reading that I just can't seem to shake. THANKS, MOM. I've had people look at me sideways for choosing a novel over some trending self-help book, but a good story sucks me in like a deep, sweet dream. I'm currently on my 3rd read of a Jurnot Diaz narrative because the tale was too captivating to only flip through once. That 3rd read, however, is taking me forever to finish. How am I supposed to get through these last few chapters when The Walking Dead, Scandal AND Nashville all have new episodes coming out every week?

If anybody has any kind of book recommendations, please please please drop it in the comments. It's time I dust off the ol' library card or maybe even renew my Barnes & Noble membership.



November 11, 2013

Only Guilty Men Bring You Flowers

I'll keep this short.

Thoughts shared last night between Meredith & I, while on our 2nd glass of white merlot: why do men wait until the screw up to buy flowers for their lady? Flowers are nice. They're these beautiful living arrangements that don't take up much space and only demand as much attention as you're willing to give. Put them near the sun, change the water every few days and watch them turn into a gift that can light up your living space for a week or so. A man is quick to take us out to dinner (a gesture that wears off as soon as our hunger returns), buy us a drink or take us somewhere different for a date, but the thought that goes into buying flowers for your woman requires a different kind of thought process. A thought process that only seems to happen when they're trying to make up for something. Can I get flowers just because you walked past the floral section at the grocery store? But then, that would require a man taking a trip to the grocery store... on his own... and maybe that's asking too much. Keep them expectations low, ladies.

Except don't.

November 7, 2013

I might be a tad bit obsessive compulsive


Yesterday, I had 3 different people make comments on how clean & tidy I keep my home. The term OCD was tossed around a few times, and as they backed up their conclusions with semi-solid evidence [I don't go to bed with dishes in the sink, I frequently wipe down the surfaces I'm using, I keep the blanket on my couch neatly folded... y'know. Normal stuff], I decided that maybe I could be just a teeny tiny bit anal when it comes to keeping my living space in order. Truthfully, I just dislike chaos. In a world that's so disheveled and erratic, my home is the one place where I can and should be completely in control of how things look/feel.

It's nice to have some order in your life, which is why I like outlines and lists. A little bit of disarray is always nice, like how my photos sometimes have absolutely nothing to do with the post, but for the most part, I need structure. In college, all my academic essays had to be outlined before I could start writing, and I'm drawn to numbered lists. That's why when I read Joy Felicity Jane's update for the day, I had to follow suit. [BTW, the photography on her blog is well worth the click] [seriously, WELL WORTH IT]

November 4, 2013

It's November 4th. Rent is now late.


You know how men are always saying that we women don't know what we want? No man has ever, ever been able to say that about me. When I want something, I make it clear and find a way to make it happen (within reason). I struggle with whether this is a good or bad personality trait, because it's times like this weekend when I had to get difficult with two different Sprint store managers that I wonder how far is too far.

Ah well. I walked out with the exact phone I wanted, and it didn't cost me a dime. I even had a credit on my bill by the end of the day.

October 28, 2013

The Bigger the Trigger



I probably should've used a gun for my illustration here, but no, beacuse.

Pizza.

Tumblr has a little obsession with the cheesy goodness. This photo alone had over 200K likes/reblogs, and there's plenty more where that came from. I quite literally cannot scroll through my dashboard without a picture like this passing by. They're all just as basic, greasy and in-your-face as the one above, but they get the most love on everyone's page. And danggit. NOW I WANT SOME PIZZA. Thanks pizza picture, I know what I'm having for dinner.

It's crazy how the simplest images can trigger someone's brain. Food was far from my mind, but one little snap from someone's camera has me looking forward to a slice of heaven later (okay... 4 3 slices). It's not even a professional-type picture or the kind that looks like a still from a Dominos commercial. Somebody probably whipped out their phone, took this in their kitchen and posted it as an obligatory here's-what-I'm-eating update. Hashtag food porn. A photo, a song, a snippet of a song, a faint scent, the tiniest little things... They can compel our brains to react in any which way, whether we want to or not. That's kinda scary, right?

Suppose I was on a diet (I'm not), or what if I had that gluten allergy everyone's worried about these days (I don't). I'd see a picture like this and cave on all my good nutrition intentions. The bigger the trigger the worse it hurts, and as someone who has very little self control when it comes to gratification, this is a slippery little slope.

October 16, 2013

Venice Beach



































Instagram

© The Active Spirit. Design by FCD.