Friday, December 19, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Best Songs of 2014

Y'all, this list baffles me. There were so many good songs out there, it's hard to choose my favorites. But when push comes to shove, here are the thirty I'd have to say were the best of the year.

30. Iggy Azalea - Fancy
29. Kenny Chesney - American Kids
28. The Chainsmokers featuring SirenXX- Kanye

27. Magic! - Rude
26. Dierks Bentley - Drunk On a Plane
25. Chase Rice - Ready Set Roll

24. Ed Sheeran - Sing
23. Clean Bandit - Rather Be
22. War on Drugs - Red Eyes

21. Anna Kendrick - Cups
20. Rae Srremmurd - No Flex Zone
19. Jason Aldean - Burnin' It Down

18. Sharon Van Etten - Every Time the Sun Comes Up
17. Katy Perry - Dark Horse
16. Chris Young - Lonely Eyes
15. Vance Joy - Riptide

14. Drake - 0 to 100
13. Sam Smith - I'm Not the Only One
12. Hiss Golden Messengers - Saturday's Song

11. Sam Hunt - Leave the Night On
10. One Direction - Story of My Life
9. Jenny Lewis - She's Not Me

8. Jay Z - Holy Grail
7. Bastille - Pompeii
6. Tove Lo - Habits
5. Ryan Adams - Gimme Something Good

4. Sia - Chandelier
3. Swedish House Mafia - Don't You Worry Child
2. Mr. Probz - Waves
1. Pitull ft. Kesha - Timber

Again, there are tons of songs that I didn't add onto my list, but the list is entirely based on my personal preferences. I figure it's a good mixture of everything, and 2014 was a great year for music!
The Best Songs Of 2014

Foxie's 90th Birthday

The entire family gathered in Henderson, NC this weekend to celebrate the 90th birthday of my grandmother, Foxie. Good times were had by all, and it was so nice to catch up with those family members I haven't seen in a couple of years. Unfortunately I got so caught up with chatting that I didn't take as many pictures as I hoped, Nevertheless, I did get some good ones.
I found a picture of my grandmother when she was about my age. (She appears to be slightly buzzed in this picture, which confirms that we're very much related.)
Beau got upset when a few of us left him with the other dogs at Foxie's house while we ate lunch at the country club.
Later, my dad, brother, and my brother's girlfriend and I decided to take Beau and my mom's dog Ellie for a walk on the golf course. The weather was absolutely fantastic.
Before the party started on Saturday night I found my grandmother's lynx coat in the closet. Since it was cold outside and I had forgotten to pack my own coat, my mom told me to wear this one if I went outside during the evening. And wear it I did.
This was one of the many handles of whiskey that was consumed in its entirety over the course of the night. One of my older cousins (he's 36 with three children) polished off the Woodford Reserve and spent the early hours of the morning asleep with his head on the toilet. Bless his heart.
A picture of all the cousins except one. This picture isn't to be confused with our annual cousins Christmas picture, which includes all my second cousins on my mom's side as well.
Foxie opening her gifts. She decided that she had her own unique way of wearing her princess tiara, and also wanted to sport her new boot slippers that one of my uncles gave her. That same uncle spent the evening calling her "Princess Xena, Warrior Princess".

This was taken at the end of the night. People were obviously enjoying themselves and getting a little rowdy in the process.

Beau was so exhausted by 11:00 he could barely keep his eyes open, so he retreated to the couch for a quick catnap.

To tell you the truth, I didn't last much longer than Beau. Around 11:30 I asked my youngest cousin (16 and sober) to drive me back to the hotel so that I could call it a night. I may have taken an early departure, but I was still able to enjoy the story of events the next day with everyone else.

And it still boggles my mind that my grandmother is 90. May she live to see many more birthdays!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Card Archive

Ah, Christmas cards. Who doesn't love a sneak peak at other people's families? I must say, in looking back through my mom's album of past Christmas cards, my brother and I were adorably photogenic. And Highball, our English Springer Spaniel, had to be a part of the scene more often than not. Now if we aren't the most American-looking family, I just don't know who is.
My brother's busy plucking out the dog's hair, and
I'm just perfecting my "good girl" act for Santa Clause.
At least the dog knows what's up.

It seems I ate the special brownies that night.
Perhaps my brother did too, because he looks utterly confused.
I look like I'm up to no good.
My brother looks like he's unaware of the camera.

Velvet and lace? What was my mother thinking?
At least she knew I deserved a photo sans the little brother.
Before the "ladies always cross their legs" lesson
was bestowed upon me, apparently.
Apparently we're part of the Von Trapp family.

Is my brother wearing clam diggers and knee socks?
But seriously, what's going on there?

Singing merrily at our grandmother's house.
My mother looks like she's ready to kill us.
The "I don't understand why you're still taking pictures after twenty minutes" smile.
I better have a plate of mac 'n cheese waiting for me when we're done.

Ah, yes. Those awkward years where I had a boy's haircut
and my brother had gigantic Harry Potter glasses.
I was too cute for words.
Sadly, my brother was born the following February
and thus stole my limelight forever.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wheat Farmers versus Rice Farmers

I came across a really interesting article in the opinion section of the New York Times. Essentially, the article argues that the wheat farming societies (i.e. North America and Europe) are much more prone towards individualistic thinking that those societies living in rice farming societies (i.e. Asia).

The concept is pretty fascinating if you think about it. Those who have historically relied on growing wheat (or crops related to it) to survive haven't needed to rely on their neighbors for a successful crop. Those growing rice, on the other hand, must work together to do so.

Most of the world aside from Europe and North America relish a society in which community works as a whole. Individuals must learn to conform to the actions and mindsets of those around them. This can't be seen just as an economic disparity between our society and theirs, because that simply isn't true. Many of the Asian cultures whose societies are most hell-bent on everyone working together are the ones whose economies match (or exceed, in China's case) America's economy.

So it would suffice to say that America (as are its citizens) is the "black sheep" society. It makes you wonder if the tables would be turned, had we been the ones farming rice. How much of our society's mindset is based on history? Do you suppose the nature versus nurture argument could be applied to an entire nation? And with that being said, is it possible that Americans as individuals have developed a natural instinct to stand out from the crowd?

I would love to see additional sociological studies conducted here. What are the differences in our marriage statistics with regard to the individual-driven versus community-driven societies? You would assume that the community-driven societies boast a higher marriage rate and a lower divorce rate. However, according to this article, that might no longer be the case. It seems that some Asians are beginning to step away from the woven web culture and trying to assert more independence. Is that necessarily a good thing? I think an argument could be made in both cases.

In America's case, our government has begun to fail us. Its lack of unity continues to cause and exacerbate problems that are at the forefront of our country's livelihood. As individuals we are constantly competing with each other and being groomed to believe that we can only count on ourselves. It could be easy to attribute our culture of bullying, mass shootings, internet trolling, political corruption, extramarital affairs, and just all-around acts of stupidity (i.e. the man who decided to be eaten alive by an anaconda for a special on the Discovery Channel) to our society's system of rewarding those who act against the cultural norms.

See the source imageIt sounds so simple, doesn't it? To create a civilization where we encourage and support each other while working together towards a goal that is unattainable to the individual. Easier said than done, obviously. But it begins with small steps. For instance, a group of coworkers working together to find a solution to a problem. Or teachers and parents acting together to further their children's education. Even better yet, a couple working together to make their marriage work.

One person just can't do it all. That's something I personally have trouble with, because I tend to veer too far to the "independent" side. I've always taken the lead on group projects. I've always been the one to plan vacations with groups of my friends. I've always attempted to move from one place to another with little to no help from others. I've destroyed so many of my relationships (friendships and romantic relationships) by being overbearing, controlling and quick to cut ties.

Perhaps in the New Year one of my resolutions should be to learn to trust people more and to allow them to help me. It's certainly worth a shot.

This world is a frightening place, and it's so much easier to navigate when you have a group of people lifting each other up.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Memory of Christmases Past

This time of year can be hard for a lot of people, because it brings back memories from past holidays spent with loved ones who have since died, relationships that are no longer intact, and perhaps even places that now cease to exist.

My Christmases growing up were wonderful. Some of the best memories I have are those where my cousins, my brother and I are all sitting impatiently on the stairs at my grandparents' house on Christmas morning, waiting for the "go-ahead" from our parents to rush into the living room and examine the loot Santa Clause had delivered the night before. (Side note: I've discovered in years past that Santa didn't actually come to our house until Christmas morning, hence the adults making the kids wait on the staircase.)

There were always parties in our family. Each year we'd attend the annual Christmas Eve festivities at my great aunt's house in Durham or at my grandmother's neighbor's house. There were a few instances where my grandmother hosted the party herself -- and there are home videos that show all of us dancing merrily, children waddling through the living room, couples showing off their new engagement rings, the older generation sitting off to the side and taking it all in.

Most of all, I think of my grandfather. He would be perched in his blue arm chair with a cigarette in hand (soft pack Dorals), a drink in the other (usually bourbon on the rocks), and his loyal golden retriever sitting quietly at his side. He preferred a quieter atmosphere 364 days out of the year, but he loved being immersed in his family during the holidays. Come next Saturday, he will have been gone for 16 years.

It was these times that I cherish and miss the most. More than anything, I miss being that blissfully innocent child who was ignorant to the ongoing feud between my mother's two brothers, the constant competition between my mother and her sister, and the hatred my mother and her siblings (and even my grandfather) felt towards my grandmother. I think that's why the holidays often get me so choked up -- I miss those days more than anything. What I wouldn't give to be able to relive even one of those Christmas parties where the room was filled with laughter and joy (at least from my perception) and my grandfather was still alive.

In 2012, for the first time in my life (and my mother's life), we didn't spend Christmas at my grandmother's house. My mom decided it was time to spend the holidays at her own house so that she wouldn't have to deal with the added stress of being around her mother. Despite that, my brother and I drive up to see our grandmother every Christmas morning after our presents have been opened. My parents don't understand why we bother doing this (my grandmother is a notoriously "mean" woman), but my brother and I do. We're chasing the memory of the tradition we loved so dearly growing up.

These days, we have a different tradition. Every year, on December 23rd, my parents throw the family Christmas party at our house. Aunts, uncles, cousins, boyfriends, girlfriends, and close friends are all in attendance. I do love this tradition so much -- we pick from the buffet my mother sets up in her dining room, drink from the makeshift bar in the kitchen, sing Christmas carols while my mom's cousin plays the piano, smoke cigarettes on the back porch (my aunt and I do, at least) and watch as my mother and her siblings and cousins compete to remember the toasts of generations past. It's a great way to celebrate Christmas, and I do love spending time with my extended family.

However, it's not quite the same. But then again, I guess nothing ever is. Traditions fade, family members pass away, and life gets complicated. There's no going back, but there's always the memory of Christmases past.

That's just the thing about the holidays, I guess. It reminds us that life is short, and we must honor the memories of the past and look forward to creating new ones in the future.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beau on the Greenway

Good morning, everyone! I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! In the spirit of returning to the "usual routine" after a holiday weekend, I figured I'd start off slowly on the blog and entertain you with pictures of Beau's first hike on the Greenway this weekend. The sun shone down, squirrels were chased, bikers were diverted, and a large buck was spotted prancing along the creek (unfortunately he disappeared before I could take a picture). All in all, I'd say it was a successful stroll.
Is that a cat I spy?

Trottin' along.

Where did the buck go?

Squirrel! Squirrel!

C'mon, Mom! Stop being a slowpoke!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Words of Wisdom

"Nothing is as changeable as a young man's heart. Take hope and warning from that."
- Ms. Patmore, Downtown Abbey

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Bucket List: 101 Aspirations

There are so many things I want to do before I die; some of them are doable, but some aren't. I recently sat down and came up with a list of the things I aspire to do in my lifetime. Here goes nothing:

Sailboat HD wallpaper for Standard 4:3 5:4 Fullscreen UXGA XGA SVGA QSXGA SXGA ; Wide 16:10 5:3 Widescreen WHXGA WQXGA WUXGA WXGA WGA ; HD 16:9 High Definition WQHD QWXGA 1080p 900p 720p QHD nHD ; Other 3:2 DVGA HVGA HQVGA devices ( Apple PowerBook G4 iPhone 4 3G 3GS iPod Touch ) ; Mobile VGA WVGA iPhone iPad PSP Phone - VGA QVGA Smartphone ( PocketPC GPS iPod Zune BlackBerry HTC Samsung LG Nokia Eten Asus ) WVGA WQVGA Smartphone ( HTC Samsung Sony Ericsson LG Vertu MIO ) HVGA Smartphone ( Apple iPhone iPod BlackBerry HTC Samsung Nokia ) Sony PSP Zune HD Zen ;

Put change in an expired meter
Attend the Kentucky Derby
Pay a stranger's bar tab
Learn to sail
Organize a large event
Buy a house
Attend a low country boil
Travel to Europe
Go fly fishing
Cook a meal for 5+ people
Drive across the country
Write a book
Get a book published
Pay off my credit card debt
Visit a castle
Start my own blog
Read all of Faulkner’s work
Plant a vegetable garden
Learn to play poker
Fly in a helicopter
Watch the changing of the guards
Ride in a limo
Drink milk from a fresh coconut
Attend a jazz festival
Learn to ski
Get a tarot card reading
Take up horseback riding again
Watch an Ole Miss game from the alumni box
Sing karaoke in public
Go mountain biking
Jump off a diving board
Start a petition
Open my own restaurant or cafe
Have a hot stone massage
Watch the 10 Greatest Movies of All Time
Ride on a motorcycle
Learn to speak Italian
Go snorkeling
Eat at a restaurant alone
Throw a surprise party
Watch a solar eclipse
Learn to bartend
See the source imageBlow glass
Hike (part of) the Appalachian Trail
Leave a 100% tip for a server
Change a flat tire by myself
Enter a writing contest
Drive over the Brooklyn Bridge
Learn to knit
Go to a drive-in movie
Watch the duck walk at the Peabody
Get hypnotized
Take an art class
Order room service
Be an extra in a film
Do my own taxes
Ride a cable car in San Francisco
Drink expensive champagne
Name a star
Invest in the stock market
Travel by riverboat
Be a tourist in my own city
Go grape stomping
Have a mud fight
Spend the day at a spa
Rope swing into water
Watch the sun set over the mountains
Drive a Zamboni
Own my own beach house
Meet someone famous
Volunteer at the soup kitchen
Go deep sea fishing
Fly first class
Move somewhere knowing no one
Serve on a jury
“Unplug” for 48 hours
Build a house with Habitat for Humanity
Get acupuncture
Catch, cook and eat a fish
Learn to salsa dance
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah
Go to a vodka lounge
Pan for gold
Sleep on a beach
Try a Cuban Cigar
Find a pen pal from another country
Ride a camel
Give a speech at a wedding
Refinish an old piece of furniture
Jump off a cliff into the water
Get ordained
Visit every state in the U.S.
Be a bridesmaid
Swim with dolphins
Fly in a hot air balloon
Complete a 10-day fast
Organize my own cookbook
Train my dog
Climb a mountain
Take a spontaneous vacation
Attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Can y'all think of anything I left out? I'm always open to suggestions!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Grub!

I'll admit it.. Thanksgiving isn't exactly my holiday. But for some reason, this year, I'm all about it. And with the big day creeping up in two weeks, I've plotted invading my mom's traditional Thanksgiving dinner with some of my own side dishes and deserts. So far, I'm overwhelmed with how many delicious recipes I've stumbled upon. And in order for me to document them all in one place (read: remove them from my "favorites" bar) and to share with all you kind folks, I'm showing you the best ones I've found so far.
Corn Pudding. I don't know if I've ever even had corn pudding, but this picture makes me want it. Big time. This might be one of the ones I actually pull the trigger on.
Creamed Pearl Onions. Simple? Check. Delicious? They certainly look that way.
Autumn Chopped Salad. Personally, I'm not eating salad on Thanksgiving. I just refuse to do so. But for you healthy people out there, here's something green.
Baked Brie with Salted Apples and Caramel. I mean, c'mon. This looks like heaven.
Baked Brie with Apples and Salted Caramel Recipe on
Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes. Everyone does garlic potatoes for Thanksgiving.. it's time to mix it up with a classic!
Creamy Spinach Casserole. This one is similar to my mom's recipe that I love so much. As good as this one looks, I do hope my mom makes hers this year.
Creamy Spinach and Cheese Casserole Recipe

Pull-Apart Stuffing Rolls. J brought this one to my attention a few days ago and he hasn't stopped talking about it since. He's decided to try making it himself (unfortunately he's going home to Burlington for Turkey Day and I won't get to see the final result).
Pull-Apart Stuffing Rolls

Cranberry Crown Cheesecake. Sign me up for a slice of that. Gotta reach my fruit quota for the day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Roll the Bones

Y'all.. this song is absolutely amazing. I discovered a few months back and probably posted it to Facebook or wrote about it on here or did something else to further encourage people to hear this song. This singer is wildly talented, and his live music is unbelievable. Check out this song and tell me you don't end up with chills..

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ole Miss versus Auburn

Y'all know what a huge Ole Miss Rebel fan I am, and as always I have to make at least one trip down to Oxford for a football game each year. This year, my friends and I chose the Auburn game, because it worked with all our schedules and was slated to be a BIG ONE. And boy, was it. As you probably know by now, my Rebels lost by 4 points to Auburn after our star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell caught the ball and landed just barely outside of our endzone with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter. As luck would have it, that tackle left Treadwell with a fractured fibula and a dislocated ankle. The sports world has dubbed this loss as one of the most "gut-wrenching" losses in college football history. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my trip to my alma mater and as always was blessed to be reunited with so many of my college friends. Let's take a look at the (few) pictures I did manage to take.

Who doesn't love a nice cotton field on the drive in?

The rental house was much nicer than expected, and we had plenty of sleeping room for the 7 of us who ended up staying there.

Since Friday was Halloween, we had to pose for a picture in front of one of the most decadently decorated houses on the main strip. I can't imagine how long it took the owners to get this thing up and running.

A "before" picture as we stopped by City Grocery for our first drink of the weekend.

And obviously I had to take a picture of my favorite sushi roll of all time.. the baked salmon roll from Kabuki, my favorite restaurant in Oxford.

Erin was the only brave one to partake in a vodka shot (they use the vodka primarily to clean the grills in the main dining room).

And then, we were off to the bars of course. Here's a look at The Library, Oxford's largest bar (which consists of a sports bar, a dance club, and an outdoor patio).

In the morning, our friend Sarah showed up bright and early to wake us up and get us ready for tailgating in the Grove.

It took us until 1:30 for everyone to get ready, but at last we were on our way, walking from the house to the Grove.

This is what a typical tent in the Grove looks like.. in other words, utter chaos.

This was our tent.

Although College Gameday didn't come to Oxford for this game, they did have one small tent set up to correspond with the network and broadcast other games to the tailgaters.

Here we are about mid-way through the day (we got to the grove around 2:00, and the game started at 6:00, so it was obviously a long day of drinking).

Elvis made an appearance in the tent next to ours.

Lauren and I managed to score tickets 10 rows up on the 50 yard line for only $100!! Score!

Most importantly, we were able to sneak whiskey bottles into the stadium with us. And as you can see in the picture below, we took advantage of our "toddies" during the game. Also, the "neighbor"'s stash of whiskey made its way to us on several occasions. Now that's Southern courtesy!

When Laquon Treadwell was being examined on the field, the stadium became silent as everyone on the field struggled to see what needed to be done and what calls needed to be made.

After the loss, we headed right back to the Library to say our goodbyes and celebrate the wonderful time we had with each other. As always, we made plans to do it all over again next year.