Friday, December 31, 2010

Tennessee History Lesson

Earlier this week, I got a tour of Nashville. It was a lot of fun, despite the freezing temperatures, getting a tour of my fiancé's hometown....with my fiancé! Though I'd been to Nashville twice before, I'd never gotten to see these things.

We started at Bicentennial Park. This cool wall (above) runs through all of Tennessee's history up to it's bicentennial.

I loved reading all the history, even if most of it was pesky modern history. It was especially neat seeing Texas mentioned in Tennessee's history. These two states have such a very special relationship! Particularly moving is when the wall describes the Civil War. The wall is broken, signifying the divided nation.

From there, we walked up these curved steps to the state capitol building. There was still a bit of snow on the ground, making for very pretty pictures.

On the grounds of the capitol was the grave of Andrew Jackson, Tennessan and US President.

We walked a lot this day but it was good after all the yummy food we've had! I'll post pics of the other half of our Nashville tour tomorrow!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tennessee Snow

It snowed more today in the Nashville area, making for an extended white Christmas! Despite consistently freezing temperatures, we were able to go out and see some stuff before darting back indoors for some hot cider.

It's so neat seeing so many sights that are significant to my future husband's (!) family. No one has ever cared so much to show me the places that mean so much to them. It's pretty cool. In every way, I now have a new family.

But that doesn't mean I've forgotten about my family back home. At one point today, I got so sad, thinking of my grandparents, all long gone. It was so long ago that I had a Christmas with anyone other than my parents, sister, and her family. I'd forgotten what it was like to have grandparents around. That makes me genuinely sad.

But the holidays are a time for family and I'm happy and blessed to be with my new family.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tennessee Christmas

I've only had two white Christmases in my life and this year marks the second. I'm in Tennessee with my new family and it's been a great time so far. Due to the threat of bad weather, we left a day early, doing Christmas with my family on Thursday.

It's always sad to leave one's family and not see them on Christmas Day but, at the same time, exciting to learn the traditions of a new family. Mr. Higgins' family has been nothing but warm and welcoming. They were so excited to see us yesterday and that excitement made the exhaustion of waking up at 4:30am worth it! It was so cool to meet Mr. Higgins' grandfather, and to spend the day with him today.

Mr. Higgins and I went out and played in the snow today. Though there's only a few inches on the ground, we were able to make a cute mini-snowman. And snow, however small the accumulation, is always magical.

Merry Christmas everyone!! May this holiday season find you happy, warm, and blessed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good Friends and Good Food!

This week has put me through an emotional wringer. Who knew the holidays could bring such stress?

And so it was with great anticipation that I finally got to see my BFF last night. We've been trying to get together since my birthday but our schedules haven't meshed. We went to the same restaurant we went to a year (well, fourteen months) ago, also for my birthday: Rise. It's the cutest French
soufflé place I've ever been to - not that I've been to any others. Their pumpkin soufflé was back on the menu for the holidays and it was oh, so good. Truly, a wonderful dinner. Thank you, AL!

Hopefully all this holiday stress will also be relieved by some cookie baking on Sunday and Monday with my mom. We have our Christmas cookie staples but I hope to make a few new things this year. And then I need to run a mile - or ten.

I really do love the holidays. Hopefully now, with work finishing up, I can make the most of the season!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Historical Fiction

I'm completely hooked on The Devil's Queen right now. I'll save the real review for later but let me say this... This is what historical fiction should be and Kalogridis writes it extremely well.

It's such a joy to find a book that so completely enthralls. And, better when it's based on a real story. This is the kind of fiction I want to write. It's not obtuse or full of itself, it's simply great storytelling spun around real events and real people.

Hopefully, at some point in the near future, I'll feel competent enough to try to write such a story myself. I've always lacked the confidence to even start. Of course, I've written fiction, but adding the 'historical' element is the scary part.

Which makes me admire good historical fiction all the more.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Keeping Quiet

This made me laugh yesterday: 10 Things Michelle Obama Wants to Say to Sarah Palin but Can't.

It must really suck to not be able to speak your mind on a daily basis. It reminds me of a "West Wing" episode where the President "accidentally" insults the opposing party's candidate at the end of an interview. He "thought" the recording was done but it wasn't. Pretty sly, I must say.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Barnes and Noble

It's been announced that one of our neighborhood Barnes and Noble is closing at the first of the new year. Barnes and Noble holds a very special place in my heart and I have so many memories at this particular one.

Growing up, when I began to closet myself away with tons of books, I frequented a very small bookstore in my hometown. It had little beyond fiction but I still spent way too much time, and money, there. Then, in high school, when I finally got my own car, I discovered a Barnes and Noble about twenty minutes from home. This discovery also coincided with my discovery of history - and my passionate love for the subject. I went into my first Barnes and Noble, wandered around, and happened upon the "History" section. This was, by the way, before I had taken any real interest in the technological phenomenon known as the internet. So, to find a section of shelves filled with history books....well, I was in love. These books weren't old and beat up like the library books...they were shiny and pretty and unopened.

I have no idea how often I went to that Barnes and Noble but it was most likely weekly. Two years later, when I started college and my mom took a job in the town which I now call home, I first started coming to my current Barnes and Noble. That was ten (!!!) years ago. I had no idea it would play such an integral part in my life through the years. It was an easy place to meet up, a great place to browse before or after appointments, and, now, an easy stop on the way home from work. I've easily spent hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars there. And it's always been a fall-back way to cheer myself up; just walking through the doors makes me feel better!

But now I must say good-bye to the store that's provided me with so many escapes and adventures and treasure-troves of knowledge. It's a sad day.

Monday, December 13, 2010


When I went to make cookies last week, I was craving something filled with wintry spices....or, something not chocolate. I found these in a magazine and they turned out to be quite yummy. I never would have thought to put pepper in cookies but it really added an interesting kick to an already spice-filled cookie. Plus, they're super easy to make if you want quick cookies!

Next weekend, I head to the country to help my mom do our yearly cookie baking extravaganza. There are so many goodies to make, I won't know where to start!

I love Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Time Off

For those of us who staff universities, Christmas is a bigger and better deal than the long, drawn-out months of summer. At Christmas, we get a week or longer, depending on the way the holiday falls, of paid time off. It's a great deal and almost, almost makes up for working Spring Break and almost every day of summer.

And so it is with great anticipation that I look forward to our time off this Christmas. It's Friday and next week is the last full week of work. Awesome! Universities don't pay all that well, but at least they make up for it with these little perks!

This is especially useful to actually get all my Christmas shopping done! There's so much to do and so very little time!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Loathing NYC

I hate New York and here is yet another reason why.

So, Texas finds the talent, nurtures and trains it, and New York steals it? I really wish someone would stand up to those blasted Yankees, but I doubt Lee will be the man to do it. Money, after all, brings out the worst in people.

Damn Yankees!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Decisions, Decisions!

Amidst all the holiday fun, I also have to figure out some wedding stuff.

It's fun to do, don't misunderstand me. But the situation of our wedding is unique, making certain aspects of traditional weddings difficult. Here's that plan... We're getting married in Georgia, with only a few very close friends and family in attendance. After the honeymoon - two weeks after the wedding - we're having a reception at home with more friends and family. The reception is obviously meant to include people who were not at the wedding.

Now, considering that, we have to plan for save-the-dates, invitations, announcements, and reception invitations. Since the reception will be on a weekend in May when college graduations are in full swing, I think it's also necessary to send out save-the-dates for the reception at home.

I finally decided on a save-the-date for the wedding and have those done and ready to mail. Now I just have to figure out the rest. I was idly wondering if I could make the wedding invitations since there are so few....but I'm unsure of my creative abilities.

One thing is for sure about wedding planning - so many decisions are required in such a short amount of time! I'm usually very decisive....except with big decisions. Arrg!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Progress

I'm slowly making progress with getting into the holiday spirit...

-On Saturday, I worked on a second dishcloth for Mr. Higgins' mom.

-I've played Christmas music, religiously, whenever I'm at home.

-I now have a wreath on the front door and a string of lights up in the house.

-The first two batches of Christmas cookies are made! Of course, these snowcaps are always a must!

-Christmas shopping has now, officially, commenced, although the majority has been done online.

I finally feel productive and Christmas-y.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Home Team

Very quietly, the Mavericks have moved to the second spot in the West. While the Heat and LeBron self-destruct, the Mavs are moving forward.

(LeBron rant: Even though he's sucking and acting like a privileged five-year-old, this guy still gets 95% of the headlines on all NBA sports sites. It's appalling. The media is continually feeding his ego even as they criticize it. Write about something worthwhile for a change!)

I was amazed at the beginning of the season, when one commentator ranked the Mavs with the Lakers and the Celtics. So often, my home team goes unnoticed but for years they've played very well. Now, they seem to have the right chemistry. Perhaps they'll get past the second round of the playoffs this year!

Being a Dallas sports fan is always difficult. The Cowboys have bottomed out yet still manage to fill the evening sports segments. The Mavs, despite doing consistently well, get only passing coverage and the Stars are rarely acknowledged, no matter the result of their season. It was great seeing the Rangers make it to the World Series but they probably missed their one chance to win it all.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


On a morning which started off terribly for me, here's a little something to make us all One word: China.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I'm trying to get into the holiday spirit but it's a bit difficult. All my decorations are in storage, not to be brought out, yet again.

Even if I had a tree, the cats would probably pull it down and eat it! Actually, I've never put up a tree since I've had cats. I've done other decorating, sure, but a tree was always too much trouble.

This year, though, will be my first Christmas with Mr. Higgins and our first Christmas as an engaged couple. I feel like I've known this man forever, yet we've never shared a Christmas together. Crazy, huh? I look forward to sharing our family traditions together and, gradually, making new ones for just the two of us. I can't wait to put up our first Christmas tree together next year!

It's an exciting time and I feel very blessed.