Friday, January 30, 2009

Tag. I'm it.

My dear friend Abby tagged me for a random post. Here were the rules:

1. Go to your 4th photo album.
2. Post the 4th picture.
3. Give a little "photo history" for all to read.

My fourth album is "Ava & Nola" and here is the fourth photo:

This photo is from December 8, 2008. My sisters and nieces were visiting my parents (I was not there, my mom sent me this photo). I can only guess that Ava is telling Nola how things work around the family. Things like, since I'm the oldest, I get first pick of toys. You know. The usual.

I won't tag anyone, but let me know if you decide to do this!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Different Bird Interviewed

So, one of the bloggers I follow, Carmen from La Petite Belle, posted answers to questions she received from another blogger, and then she offered to 'interview' other bloggers in return. I said, why not, and requested some questions.

So, here are my questions from the lovely Carmen, and my answers.

1) What made you start a blog?

I was actually inspired to start my first blog several years ago by my best friend, Kari, who was living in and blogging about Africa then. The first blog was similar to A Different Bird, just a lot less stuff on the page (damn you, widgets!). I also kept a blog about my adventure in England, where I lived for 14 months to get my Master's degree.

2) If you were in a deserted island and could only bring one person with you, who would that be? (you can pick someone you do or do not know)

Honestly, it would be Cameron, my boyfriend. He is one of my best friends (we get along extremely well and I would need to really love the person since we are the only two on the island); he is an outdoor guy (so he could build us that fabulous lean-to we'll need to survive the elements and hunt us some food) and he's fun to snuggle with (got to start thinking about populating that island ;)).

3) If you were only allowed to read ONE more book before you died, which book would you pick?

I thought this would be difficult to answer, but then I realized that I really want to read 'The Last Lecture' (it's on my to-do list this year) and I think the book's content would be very fitting!

4) If you could go back in time and re-do something in your life, what would that be?

There are a number of things I can think of, but I think I would redo high school - making much better decisions and setting a much better mental path for myself.

5) What would you tell your 10 year old self if you saw her sitting in front of you right now?

"Quit stressing out about everything. It really does all work out - for the good or the bad. Really enjoy time with the family. Do more things with your parents and your sisters. Your parents really give great advice, but do travel even when they don't want you to go, and do activities that you really want to do even if they don't want you to do them. And your sisters will be your best friends some day and all that fighting will be for naught, so chill! Savor every moment of those family vacations to St. George Island. They will still be some of your best memories when you are 27. Eat - for goodness' sake, eat. Even when you don't want to and you think it gives you some sense of control to starve yourself. Exercise. Enjoy physical activity. Go for long walks. Travel more. Try different cuisines. Always stay open to new ideas and new cultures. Be understanding of everyone's differences. Enjoy learning more than making high grades. Don't worry about middle school - everyone is awkward in middle school. Don't worry about not doing what everyone else is doing in high school. There really are so many things that are better suited for life after high school. Love as much as you can, but guard your heart against those who would hurt it. Don't waste your time on losers because you have an incessant need to make things work - in friendships, in relationships and in work. Try new things! Take more pictures but don't worry about taking pictures. Allow your creative side out in everything you do. And do what you love."

I have more to tell my 10-year old self, but I think my 10-year old self would have started stressing out about having to do all this stuff. And you didn't think I had always been this anal retentive?

1. If you want to participate, leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” (And please leave your e-mail address if I don't have it)
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. (eh, only if you want)
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. (again, only if you want - this blogging thing shouldn't be that stressful)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Beginning Slim in 6

So, as part of my 109 in 2009 list, I am trying to be more active. And the list item I have actually dreaded the most is doing Slim in 6, a 6-week, 6-days-a-week workout program. No, I am not a glutton for punishment, but I bought the DVDs a couple of years ago and never really used them. And I can't stand the idea of wasting money.

So, all that to say, this morning I started Slim in 6. And it is boring, the music is horrible and the fitness instructor loses count a lot, but my muscles are aching and I feel much better knowing I did some physical activity today. One of my main goals this year is to get back to a size 4 and maintain it (getting a stress fracture in my foot after my half-marathon run put a damper on my activity level).

So, please wish me luck. I need it.

Monday, January 26, 2009


So, I have already made progress on my 109 in 2009 list. I blog about it over there, so I won't repeat myself here.

Have I mentioned I have a recipe blog called 'A Cooking Bird'? Me? Nicole? Cooking? Hell has seriously frozen over. I am always up for recipe suggestions as I have committed to cooking at least once a week in 2009 (well, starting the week of Jan. 18). I've done it so far! Two weeks down, lots to go.

And 2009? So far an excellent year.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The 109 in 2009 is HERE!

In 2008, I attempted to do 108 new things in a year. Well, I did 45. Not bad but not great, and this year I hope to accomplish even more. And I also hope to document my progress more at The 109 in 2009. I did a very poor job of taking photos as evidence of my endeavors. So, as a general rule I shall take more photos of day-to-day items/events.

Please check The 109 in 2009 often to see my progress - and there will be a permanent home for the link in the top right corner of this blog.

Some of these are items I moved over from 'The 108 in 2008' list, some are completely new and some are slightly modified versions of last year's goals. Cam suggested I organize the lists into different categories and I really like the layout. I'll cross items off the sidebars as they happen. And as always, your encouragement is most appreciated.

Just for Fun (17)
- Have a Jane Austen Day that includes watching the entire 1995 A&E version of Pride and Prejudice.
- Go on a picnic.
- Read outside.
- Watch a sunrise.
- Watch a sunset.
- Buy a cookie cake for no reason at all (and of course share with friends).
- Send an overseas friend snail mail.
- Finish a crossword puzzle.
- Finish a jigsaw puzzle.
- Send my nana a card.
- Spend a whole (non-sick) day lounging around the house with movies, books, etc.
- Go out on a boat.
- Become SCUBA certified.
- Win a radio station contest.
- Have afternoon tea with my mom and sisters.
- Beat my dad at gin rummy.
- Go shooting.

Travels & Destinations (15)
- Go on a vacation.
- Go back to my college town for a visit, see Meaghan and meet her new son.
- Visit a park I have never been to before.
- Got to a state I have never visited.
- Visit a new foreign destination.
- Go to a fair.
- Go to an art museum.
- Stay at a nice bed and breakfast.
- Take an unplanned trip.
- Visit my high school alma mater.
- Go to the beach.
- Go camping.
- Visit a historical site.
- Visit Savannah.
- Visit Washington D.C.

Food & Cooking or 'The Making of a Domestic Goddess' (16)
- Cook at least once a week (starting now!).
- Take a cooking class.
- Make homemade pizza.
- Make homemade ice cream.
- Have a fajita night.
- Have a bacon, avocado, lettuce sandwich.
- Make biscuits from scratch.
- Bake a cake from scratch.
- Make homemade bread.
- Make S’mores.
- Cook and serve a four-course meal.
- Cook mama's recipe for pulled pork.
- Contribute at least one dish to Thanksgiving dinner.
- Make homemade lasagna.
- Cook Cam his favorite meal of country fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried okra and pecan pie.
- Fix a meal for either my family or Cam's family.

Go Out on the Town (12)
- Go see Cirque du Soleil.
- Have a girls' night out.
- Visit the New World of Coca-Cola.
- Visit the Georgia Aquarium.
- Try a new restaurant in Marietta.
- Eat at Bacchanalia - consistently considered one of Atlanta's best restaurants.
- Eat at Crepe Revolution.
- Be a tourist in my own town, including taking lots of photos.
- See Bodies: The Exhibition.
- Tour one of North Georgia's vineyards & wineries.
- See a play.
- Try a new type of cuisine.

Be a Bookworm (17)
- Read The Shack by William P. Young.
- Read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.
- Read The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Neiffenegger.
- Read The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer in its entirety.
- Read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: A Novel by Gregory Maguire.
-Read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
- Read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
- Read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.
- Read Persuasion by Jane Austen.
- Read Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche.
- Read Wild Swans : Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang.
- Read The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.
- Read The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller.
- Read Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.
- Read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.
- Read American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman.
- Read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

Let's Get Physical! (11)
- Get back to a size 4 and maintain it.
- Stick to the BeachBody Slim in Six and post about my experience.
- Run a race.
- Learn to rollerblade
- Go bike riding.
- Go fishing.
- Participate in a team sport.
- Go skydiving (this will depend on funds).
- Go horseback riding.
- Do 100 consecutive push-ups.
- Go on a hike.

Be Creative (16)
- Create a tangible scrapbook.
- Create a handmade card and send it.
- Decorate my office.
- Write a short story.
- Knit a scarf.
- Knit an item for Nola.
- Design and create new seasonal headers for my other blog, A Different Bird.
- Draw a picture and frame it.
- Design stationary.
- Finish knitting Ava's baby blanket.
- Send out Christmas cards with a personal note in each.
- Get published under my name.
- Document a “day in my life” with photos.
- Throw a party.
- Plan & implement an entire date day.
- Create a series of graphic prints and have them framed.

Benefit Others (5)
- Baby-sit my niece, Ava.
- Baby-sit my niece, Nola.
- Leave a server a 100% tip.
- Volunteer for a worthy cause.
- Donate blood.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ah! It's already almost two weeks into 2009!

Auntie Cole. What do you mean it's Tuesday, January 13th, and you haven't posted your new To-Do list this year?

It's OK, cousin Nola. Mama tells me that Auntie Cole has been super busy. Mama also tells me that staying in this cage is for my own good. I'm starting not to believe mama.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 looks bright

When 2008 came to a close, I had big plans of wrapping everything I have done this year in a nice, neat package. But as anyone who knows me can attest, I suck at wrapping. So, instead, I will just summarize my 108 in 2008 list.

In 2008, I attempted to do 108 new things, or things I just haven’t done in a really long time. Let's see how I did.

1- Learn to knit (Thank you, Sherrie!)(1/09/08)

2- Hang something on my bedroom wall - a photo, a candle holder, some art, a calendar - something!

It was a calendar. Maybe I need to set my sights higher this year - like a photo frame.

3- Volunteer for a worthy cause

This had to be in addition to English School, because I began volunteering there in 2007. So, during December, I helped out at Clark's Christmas Kids with Clark Howard (from AM 750 WSB). You can see more photos from the event in this post.

4- Sing karaoke

(Me and one of my best friends, Bryan) I did this while playing Rock Band - it counts, right?

5- See a play or ballet performance

Cam took me to see A Christmas Carol at The New American Shakespeare Tavern on Peachtree Street. The show was wonderful! I also had food there for the first time and it was very tasty (and reasonably priced!).

10- Go to an opera I saw a live feed from the New York Metropolitan Opera of La Fille du Régiment. It was wonderful.

11- Try a new game

Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 on Wii - hilariously fun! - and Rock Band!

13- Run a half marathon (10/25/08)

I couldn't believe how accomplished I felt after finishing. And how painful a stress fracture can be.

17- Have a taco night

Cam and I made The Food Network's Turkey Tacos Picadillo one night at his place. They were very spicy and delicious. And see that guacamole? That is one of Cam's specialties. You'll have to ask him for the recipe. And just for fun, here is a photo of Cam (with his cousin, Brandon, in the foreground) fixing the infamous guac.

Handsome and he likes to cook. Or as he puts it, he likes to eat.

18- Read the entire Harry Potter series

I bawled reading the last couple of books. I didn't want it to end. I think the Twilight series might make my 2009 list...

19- Visit a state I have never been to, and not just a drive-through.

I went to Arizona for the first time in my life on a mini-vacation in September.

It is incredibly beautiful, I had a wonderful time and want to go back for another visit. You can read about the entire trip here.

23- Throw a party

I helped plan the annual Christmas party thrown by a political group I am heavily involved in.

25- Go on a trip with my sisters

I went to Florida with my beautiful sisters (L-Steph, R- Barb) to visit some family. You can read about the entire trip here.

26- Take a dance lesson

Kole and I took a very special dance class. If you want more details, you'll have to ask me personally. Or Kole.

32- Go to a concert (7/12/08)

Me and Abbs hanging out while watching 7 Sharp 9 in July. They were great!

36- Create a scrapbook

As Cam pointed out, I have referred to this blog as my online scrapbook.

41- Read Son of a Witch: A Novel by Gregory Maguire

I didn't enjoy this book at all. Boo.

46- Read Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides

I recommend reading Middlesex. It was very interesting and kept me engaged until the very end.

49- Read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

This is one of my new favorite books. I hear the movie is pretty good, too.

50- Read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I LOVED the play when I saw it in London, the book, however, SUCKED.

52- Watch the movie Juno (10/02/08)

Over-hyped, but good.

55- Watch Stardust

I really enjoyed this film, but I'm a huge fantasy & science fiction fan.

56- Re-watch the entire British version of The Office, including the two Christmas specials

And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. You think Pam and Jim are cute in the American version, just wait until you see Dawn and Tim in the UK version. *sigh*

57- Try a new restaurant in Marietta

It was Wild Wing Cafe - VERY tasty wings!

58- Try a new restaurant in Atlanta

Cam took me to La Tavola Trattoria Restaurant in Atlanta. It was absolutely wonderful. I wish we had taken photos!

60- Run three miles without stopping

Please see half-marathon information above, and I ran a lot of miles while training for that half-marathon. :)

64- Have a facial

And it made me melt.

66- Participate in a Texas hold ‘em tournament

I didn't win, but it sure was fun!

68- Go to a comedy club(April 13, 2008)

My friend, Travis, being, erm, friendly with the comedian, Nick Guerra (who I highly recommend seeing, if you get the chance).

I LOVE live comedy and frequent the local clubs. I highly recommend you visit The Funny Farm and The Punchline to see great comedy in Atlanta.

70- Go to the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern

Please see #5 above.

73- Try a new haircut

Do you remember this post?

I decided on long layers, with side-sweep bangs:

Me showing my hair to Coach Bill Curry.

79- Buy a new dress & 80- And matching shoes

I did, but I don't actually have a photo with me in the outfit. New Year's resolution: Take more photos.

83- Eat breakfast for dinner

This actually happens all the time. In fact, we had breakfast for dinner with Cam's family last night that consisted of country ham, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, biscuits and grits. Man, now I'm hungry!

85- Try a new fru-fru drink [a.k.a. fruity alcoholic beverage]

I had lots of new fru-fru drinks this year, including a peach martini (YUM!) on New Year's Eve, but I don't take a photo of any of them. Though I did have a new drink the night the above photo was taken. And I just wanted to post it again.

87- Have a girls’ night

I have one pretty much every Wednesday.

90- Help someone find a job

I helped a couple of my friends unsuccessfully try to find jobs. Maybe this year they will be successful in finding them!

91- Watch home movies with my family

For some reason, my sister loves to show off the angel above. I've seen her a number of times on the TV at my parents' house.

92- Cook with my mom

We made French toast together - yum!

96- Pay off my student loans (3/14/08)

The idea of debt scares me, so I was so happy to pay this off before it went into payments.

100- Be at the hospital when Steph’s baby is born

Ava Gabrielle stole my heart the moment I touched her.

101- Be at the hospital when Barb’s baby is born

Nola Ashlyn is my sweet little angel. I couldn't love my nieces more if I tried.

102- Make a key lime pie

Key lime pie is my absolute favorite dessert. And this was the EASIEST recipe to make. And honestly, not to toot my own horn, but it was the best damn key lime pie I've ever had. I like to think that Cam agreed.

Groceries needed:
9-inch graham cracker pie crust (Deep-dish if you can find it)
Four eggs (you will just use the yolks)
2 (14-ounce) cans condensed milk
1 cup of key lime juice (you could probably use regular lime juice, but the key lime is what made the flavor for me! We found ours at the local Harry's Farmers Market)
Sour cream
Powdered sugar
One lime for zesting (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Combine the condensed milk, key lime juice and egg yolks. Whisk until well blended and place the filling in the pie shell. We had so much mixture left over that we put them in tiny bunt cakes (please see photo above) and sampled them later that night after cooking the little bunts with the big pie and then chilling the little bunts for a short time - yummy sampler!) Bake for 30-35 minutes and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Once chilled, combine about a cup of sour cream to three+ tablespoons powdered sugar (do it to your taste) and use to dollop on the top. Some people spread the topping over the whole thing before serving, but I like to give people the option, though I personally love the sour cream/powdered sugar mixture. Cuts the tartness of the pie. Then sprinkle lime zest as a garnish on top of the sour cream and serve chilled.

What I won't post is the video that Cam took unbeknownst to me while I whisked the key lime pie mixture. Let's just say I look like a hula dancer from behind.

107- Try a different dish at my favorite restaurants (at Murphy’s Deli, La Parilla and Outback)

Well, two out of three isn't bad. Cam, you want to go to Outback this year?

108- Finish a knitting project

My friend, Sherrie, holding the dishcloth I knitted for her.

And it is usually during these 'wrap-ups' that people talk about how thankful they are for everything in their life. And I'm not going to break that tradition. Because I am incredibly thankful.

I'm thankful for my sisters, their husbands and my incredible nieces.

A Christmas photo we had done for our parents.

I'm thankful for my parents.

At Steph's wedding rehearsal.

I'm thankful for my friends.

Some friends on New Year's Eve.

So many things happened in 2008 that weren't on the to-do list. Well, at least they weren't on my list. Items like having two nieces and falling in love. But those are the best things in my life. And I'm so glad I can add them to my life list.

Ringing in the New Year. Properly.

Happy New Year, everyone. May be it filled with as much love and hope as I feel at the moment. Which is a lot.