Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sewanee Day Trip

Yesterday we took a day trip out to the University of the South to check out the campus, specifically the School of Theology, and do some hiking in the beautiful mountains of southern Tennessee. I had no idea what to expect from Sewanee, and I was utterly blown away. It is definitely the most beautiful place I've been to in Tennessee, and it even rivaled some of the historic places I visited in the UK. Their campus is breathtaking, and the surrounding geography is nothing short of inspiring. They have miles & miles of excellent hiking trails throughout the "domain" of the university. We walked around to see the buildings, went on a long hike, and sat enjoying the scenery.

Cohen was a champ. He is a really great hiker! He jumped over rocks & bounded down the trail without stop. But on our 2-ish mile walk back to the car, he about couldn't make it.... Nathan carried him for a bit to give him a rest.

After walking several miles through the campus & on the trails, we were ravished. We found an incredible little "fine foods" organic restaurant/cafe, where we ate the best spinach & artichoke paninis, drank mango aqua fresca, sat outside enjoying the sun, and even gave Cohen a little plate of chicken. It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

So excited about the Admissions building!

Going inside the Chapel of the Apostles.

Inside the Chapel of the Apostles.

The School of Theology

Breathtaking view.

War memorial monument.

Another breathtaking view.

The Chapel.

The baptismal fount.

And Cohen was clearly worn out.

He slept the whole way home. 

We are going to be visiting again very soon. It's a little over an hour drive to get there, so it makes for a perfect day trip. And hopefully Nathan will be attending their School of Theology sometime soon. :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Because I love photos of my pets.

And I hope you do too...

Shoot. He's stinkin' cute.

cat & dog, on the same bed.  (this was after Cohen tried to lick Fiero's butt hole)

Lookin' goofy. THOSE EARS. Love them so.

I swear, he is the best model.

And Corduory was probably hidden under a piece of furniture or awkwardly crammed in a cubby-hole somewhere at the times these photos were taken.

Another Summer Salad

As I previously mentioned, I love summer vegetables. And one reason is because they come together so perfectly in raw salads. The possibilities for light, flavorful, summery salads are pretty much endless with summer's bounty. And so I give you another of my favorite summer salads. It's basically bruschetta in a bowl.

For this salad, just toss together:

  • tomatoes of any type, cut to your own preference
  • diced onion
  • chopped fresh basil
  • chunks of fresh mozzarella
  • good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
Mix it all together and eat plain, or pile it atop slices of freshly toasted bread. 
Doesn't get much better than that. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Movin' On Up.

So, I have an announcement to make.... I accepted a new position at my agency as the Information & Referral Specialist. It's kind of a promotion, I guess. I don't know if it's technically considered that, but I'm moving into my own office (next to our President's office) and making more money. So, it feels like a promotion.

As the Information & Referral Specialist, I act as the liaison between Park Center & other mental health agencies and psychiatric hospitals in the area. I take referrals from other providers for clients who are needing any of the several services our agency provides. It is my responsibility to process their referrals in a timely manner & help them get into the program(s) that most appropriately fit their needs & circumstances. Starting off it will be a lot of paperwork, but the plan is to eventually set me some "office hours" at these other agencies wherein I can do face-to-face intakes and answer questions for potential clients seeking our services. I am really looking forward to that aspect of the position.

I'll be honest, I was hesitant to apply for the position. I felt guilty even considering leaving a position in direct-care with a great team, great boss, and great clients. I love my position as Housing Coordinator. But, the opportunity to move slightly up in the agency, gain new administrative experience, create relationships with other providers, and serve people with mental illness coming to us for help in their recovery all just seemed too good to pass up.

I have been trying to convince myself that I'm not "giving up" on direct care. And, the thing is, I'm not. There will be elements of direct care in my new position; the type of direct care will just be different. I won't be as tied up in people's lives for long periods of time, which means I hopefully won't let myself get overly emotionally invested, as I have often done in my current direct care position. I am a very sensitive person (or haven't you noticed?), which is certaily a positive quality in this type of work, but it also makes it very difficult for me to take care of myself and stay emotionally well and energized. I think my new position will give me a bit more control over my stress levels & my own self-care abilities... which is really, really good.

And did I mention that I'll have my own office? I'm really excited about that. And about never being on-call over the weekends, and NEVER HAVING TO DRIVE A HUGE PASSENGER VAN! Hallelujah.

But most of all, I'm excited about this transition being a part of my personal journey to find where I best fit in the world.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Victory!: Our Emissions Testing Saga

Any of you official Davidson County residents have learned about the terror that is emissions testing. Until last year, I had never heard of such a thing, and thought the lady at the county clerk's office was legit making it up. Unfortunately, it is real. And it is really awful. In theory, I love it. I love that Nashville is trying to keep air pollution down & accidents to a minimum. But in practice, I selfishly hate it. The long lines of sitting in the car. The $9 fee. The creepy waiting room. The anxiety of waiting for the results. Okay, okay, it's not really that bad. Unless your car fails 4 times, then it really really sucks.

So, Nathan took in the 12-year-old CRV to be tested & passed with flying colors. Then we took the newer, nicer Camry in & failed because the Check Engine light was on (duh). So, we got an oil change, transmission fluid change, and a diagnostic test stating that we were good to go. The next emissions test: fail. They told me my drive cycle hadn't been fulfilled. So I drove it for another week or so, took back in, and promptly failed again... for the same reason. Thinking that maybe my car just has a weirdly long drive cycle, I drove it around for another week before taking it back in. Attempt number 4? Fail. Same reason... readiness monitor was not "ready"... who makes this BS up? That is not a real thing.

So, I made several calls. One guy told me I needed to have both of my catalytic converters replaced ($700+), one guy was just sarcastic & unhelpful, one guy told me it couldn't possibly be my catalytic converter since no dashboard lights had come on, and one guy told me I probably needed a recalibration of the whole system. What?

Our solution? Autozone. Free diagnostic. It ran just fine, no codes showing up. The brilliant, wonderful man at Autozone explained that the computer was just having trouble connecting to the computers at emissions testing, and he recommended that we unplug the battery overnight so the computer could reset, then plug it in & drive it around to fulfill the drive cycle (the drive cycle restarts whenever the battery is unplugged). So we did exactly that. Basically just like rebooting a computer that froze up.

A week later, we headed back to Autozone to have them run a diagnostic, just to be sure. No codes, good to go. So we returned to the emissions testing center & got in line. Of course we picked the one lane that didn't move at all.... cars who pulled in a good ten minutes after us were driving away before we even approached the testing bay. My heart was pounding from the anxiety. A good twenty-forever minutes later we pulled in, handed the tester the keys, and went to the waiting "room" (cubicle). I stood anxiously awaiting the result (meanwhile seeing them break the cord that holds my gascap on and then shut the gas door as if nothing happened). They handed us the paper, and I could hardly bare to look. I saw, finally, that obnoxious little smiley face indicating that we had passed. I shot my arms up in the air & loudly exclaimed my joy and relief. The tester was obviously confused about the amount of enthusiasm I had regarding an emissions test. We got in our PERFECTLY WORKING CAR (which I have known this whole damn time), and drove straight to La Hacienda for celebratory margaritas.

So, $27 and several conversations with mechanics later & we've succeeded against the beast that is emissions testing. There has never been anything wrong with my car. I will swear to my deathbed that the "readiness monitor" is a made up load-of-crap. But, despite the anxiety this whole situation has caused, we have triumphed.... meaning that now we have the privilege of paying $81 for our tags.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Puppy Photo Shoot

Cutie-pie & his pop.
Fiero was moping because he, for once, wasn't getting all the attention.
"hey mom!"
And then I grabbed his bone and held it by the camera...
"ohhhhh mom, I want that bone"
"BONE! YUM! I'm sitting mom, doesn't that mean I get the bone?!?!?!"
After being teased too long "mommmmm. this is mean. I give up." 
So, isn't he the cutest dog? And as much as we complain, he's actually REALLY well-behaved & well-adjusted for being a stray & a puppy. I just love him to bits. And we repeatedly get stopped by neighbors commenting on how adorable he is whenever we take him for walk in the neighborhood. 

Cohen is my current joy. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Favorite Summer Salad

So, I know I haven't posted about food and or crafting projects in a while. A lot of that is due to the fact that I never found my camera charger when we moved into the new house. It's also due to the fact that we have been so incredibly busy & I haven't had time to blog or craft as much. But, we've definitely still be cooking a LOT. 

We're doing a summer CSA with Bountiful Blessings Farm, as well as getting weekly groceries from the East Nashville Farmer's Market (Kenny's Cheese, Delvin Farms basil, Peaceful Pastures eggs, & Provence bread). So, we've been able to thoroughly enjoy the amazing bounty of summer. I love summer vegetables. I think tomatoes might be my favorite summer crop.... but I also love love love basil, corn, and summer squash. It's all just so wonderful. 

So, I introduce to you my absolute favorite summer salad. Now, I did cheat a bit by buying some avocados that are definitely not grown here in Nashville. But, a girl's gotta have an avocado from time to time, right?

This salad is the perfect summer salad. It's light & refreshing, and so jam packed with flavor. It's vegan, raw, and filled with nutrients. 

So, here it is: my favorite summer salad.

oh, the colors!

So many textures and flavors.

Who doesn't love a jar full of cilantro?!

All you need for this salad are:

  • an avocado
  • a handful of cherry/plum tomatoes
  • two small ears of corn
  • 1/4 onion (any kind will work... I used white)
  • a handful of fresh cilantro
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
Mix all ingredients & you've got summer in a salad.

In other news, Cohen is as perfect as always. He got a bath today, as well as some good walks. He's learning how to lie down, and he starts puppy school in a couple of weeks! He's pretty much the cutest thing ever, and he adores us. It's like a constant confidence boost. And also a lot of cuddling. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The kids

Trying to help mama with a sewing project...

Thanks for the help, guys.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Puppies have teeth.

A list of things Cohen has chewed up/on:
  • My eye glasses
  • Nathan's eye glasses
  • The case to my new eye glasses
  • Our porch swing
  • Clothes-drying rack
  • A remote
  • A hat
  • Blinds
  • 10+ bones
  • A tupperware container
  • A couple books
  • A bookmark
  • One of my favorite sandals
  • A cat toy or two
  • The insoles of Nathan's gardening shoes
  • One of Nathan's house slippers
  • and, surely, many more things to come... 

Somehow, despite all of the destruction, we absolutely love him to pieces. I love the way he reaches his arms up to hug me when I get home, as if he has never been so excited in his life. I love the way he chases after his ball & does a cute little leap right before he reaches it. I love the way he jumps up on our bed, as though he knows he's totally welcome and wanted there with us. I love his curly tail and his big floppy ears. I love his long snout & his cute white belly. I just love him. Having a dog is a big commitment, but it's a really rewarding one (well, not financially... financially it freakin' sucks).

Chewin' real good.

Looking for something to chew.

Gettin' his chew on.