04 May 2010

Moving!

Last week was a blissful blur. I had two interviews, got two job offers, accepted one, had a wonderful birthday, and am now moving to Charlotte, NC. *poof!* Just like that.

Gotta run. I'm moving on Friday, and the job starts on Monday.

27 April 2010

On the Road: Myrtle Beach

On my way home from the interviews (see post below), I swung by Myrtle Beach, SC, for a couple of days to see how much it had changed in the twenty years since I’d been there. One of the bigger additions I discovered was Broadway at the Beach, which I suspect is modeled more after Disney than Broadway. My photos are here.

20 April 2010

On the Road: NC and DC


For the past two weeks, I’ve been on an interviewing tour, first to Raleigh, NC, and then to Alexandria, VA. A California phone interview was in the mix as well. Busy busy.

I knew I would like Raleigh (have visited several times), but I was surprised by how much I liked Alexandria. I loved it! At night, King Street glows with string-lit trees and with people having fun amid meticulously restored shops, bars, and restaurants. The entire city is beautiful, and the people are endearingly nice. Also, just across the Potomac River, National Harbor could be a vacation destination in itself. In fact, that’s not a bad idea...

06 April 2010

Braving the Bad Part of Town


Before Friday, I had never gone to the Artistic Perceptions gallery in Augusta. The gallery itself seemed fine, but the nudie bar, gun shop, pawn shop, and tattoo parlor nearby gave me the jeebs.

But my mom and I were out for First Friday, and the band wasn’t yet playing on the Commons, and Pyroteque wasn’t yet spinning fire in the street, and there we were, coughing pollen and ready to head home. “Hey,” I said, “There's this one other thing I was kinda interested in, but it’s kinda in the bad part of town.” “Pfft,” she said. “Whatever. Let’s check it out.”

So we ventured to the east end of Broad Street, parked in the Augusta Museum of History parking lot (which is so not scary), and saw the Kenya exhibit at Artistic Perceptions. Everyone was friendly. All was well. Nobody came out of the nudie bar and grabbed us like that time in New Orleans. We even got to meet the gallery owner, which is always a treat for me because, I mean, here’s a person who gets to be surrounded by art and artists for a living.

Speaking of travels, I suppose I should update you on my whereabouts, since I publicly announced I was moving on 31 March (to find work), and here I still am. But my delay is for good reason: I keep getting contacted by recruiters from California to Florida to DC, and several places in between. There’s no job yet, but I’m thinking I should wait and let the job decide where I’m moving to. Or maybe I should go on a traveling spree and spend a week or two in cities I think I would like, and then pick a favorite. Maybe. I’ll see how things go.

30 March 2010

Photographing Savannah Rapids Park

Despite spending a year in Augusta, there are still places around here I haven’t seen and/or photographed. This week I finally made it out to the Savannah Rapids Park, and I wish I’d visited sooner. There are nice walking trails alongside the Augusta Canal, and there’s a fantastic view of where the Fall Line crosses the Savannah River. Click here (and scroll to the bottom) to see more of my photos.

23 March 2010

Photographing St. Paul’s

Although the current structure was built in 1919, St. Paul's Church in Augusta dates back to 1750. Click here (and scroll down) for more of my photos or here for details about the church's history.





16 March 2010

Discovering Google Docs


After losing many files and photos last December to a PC virus, I’ve been serious about backing up my files. I’m using a USB drive to store copies of everything, but I keep the drive in a drawer below my PC, so if a house fire wipes out the PC, it’ll get the USB drive too. To be extra safe, I’ve been trying to find online storage that is fast, free, and secure.

As you can imagine, not many online storage options are fast, free, and secure, and maybe Google Docs isn’t as secure as I’m thinking, but so far, I really like it. I was able to upload my files quickly and, unlike SkyDrive’s one-at-a-time approach, I can download several files at once.

So far, for my purposes, Google Docs rocks.

09 March 2010

One New (Re)Opening

Augusta’s Morris Museum of Art, which is dedicated exclusively to Southern art and artists, closed its doors in January and February for a bit of redecorating. Pieces were brought out of storage, displays were rearranged, et voila, the Morris was ready to reopen this past weekend. Of course I was there to see what they’d done with the place, and lots of other people were too.

I was especially pleased to see three Elliot Daingerfield paintings on display and an inspiring painting of Gloucester Harbor. I didn’t write down the Harbor artist because I thought I could easily find him/her online, but apparently lots of artists have painted this particular harbor. Hmm, I guess I’ll have to visit the museum again soon.

After the grand reopening, I crossed the Savannah River into downtown North Augusta, strolled around, and snapped a few photos. Shown above is Lookaway Hall, which is an Antebellum mansion now used as a bed-and-breakfast inn, and below is downtown North Augusta. The rest of the day’s photos are here, including several of Brick Pond Park, which is a swamp with walking trails, wildlife, and the occasional alligator sighting.

What a pleasant day I had: I got some serious exercise and a good dose of Southern culture.

02 March 2010

One New (Print) Issue

One of my gifts for Christmas 2009 was a subscription to O: The Oprah Magazine, and I’m loving it so far. The March issue alone was worth the subscription price. It’s all about de-cluttering, and it covers all kinds of clutter, from stuff in your closets to people in your life.

Even as organized as I am, I read it from cover to cover this past weekend and learned a few things. I especially enjoyed Oprah’s interview with writer, teacher, and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Among other subjects, he talks about finding happiness by going home to the present moment, which is also known as being mindful. An example of mindfulness, he explains, can be as simple as savoring a cup of tea. Oprah calls it “mindful tea.”

I like that phrase, and I like the idea of appreciating what we consume—not just before we consume it, but as we’re consuming it. Since we’re always consuming something (air, sunlight, etc), there are lots of opportunities for grateful, mindful moments.

23 February 2010

Getting Ready to Relocate

After nearly a year of staying with wonderfully kind family in Augusta, I’ve decided it’s time to take a chance on moving to where the jobs are—or where more jobs are, at least. March 31 is my self-imposed date to move on, unless I’ve found work before then.

Now that I’ve made the decision to move, I’m so excited, and I’m not sure I can wait until the 31st. The lists are made, the research is done, and the apartment and city guides are en route to my mailbox (although I’ll likely stay at an extended-stay hotel initially). I’ve even listed which items are going into which boxes, so I can load my car as efficiently as possible. Quickly too, if need be.

I should say, though, that my year in Augusta has been pleasant. I got to do lots of New Things and got to save thousands of dollars, thanks to my generous family. I’m grateful for that and more, but I’m ready to take more initiative in creating my environment rather than adapting to it, and I’m ready for a new adventure.

13 February 2010

Snow in South Carolina?

Okay, technically, snow in SC isn't a New Thing, but it's rare, and this much snow in one day is reeeally rare. So I took photos:











09 February 2010

One New Cleanser

What is with all of the mysterious chemicals found in facial cleansers these days? Or in personal care products in general? Well, in everything, actually. I’m running out of my beloved Physician’s Formula Gentle Cleansing Lotion, and no one carries it, and the manufacturer’s $4 shipping fee isn’t practical, since the product itself is only $7.

So I’ve been looking for something new to use. Thank goodness Kroger and Target have great return policies, because some cleansers that claim to be for sensitive skin are actually not—at least not for my skin. I even considered using a product for babies, but the thing is, I don’t want to smell like a baby.

But it’s all good. I found something affordable (under $4), accessible (at Target), and easy on my sensitive, winter-stricken skin: Olay Gentle Foaming Face Wash, with Cetaphil at a close second. Thank you Olay! Thank you Cetaphil! xoxo

02 February 2010

One New Chocolate Treat

My diet is not the typical American diet. I rarely eat at restaurants, and I rarely eat anything packaged with more than five ingredients. I avoid chemicals, and the only animal products I eat are chicken and turkey (no dairy, eggs, etc). I also avoid added sugars and simple carbs in favor of natural sugars and complex carbs, such as those found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I went from a size 10 to a size 2 on this diet (over six months’ time), and I feel great, so this is how I eat now.

I do, however, have a slight addiction to dark chocolate bars. I usually buy Lindt Excellence 70% bars from Kroger, and it takes me up to a week to eat one bar, so it’s a healthy, budget-friendly indulgence. Still, I’ve been wanting to make my own chocolate treat, with exactly what I want in it. So this week I did, and the result was surprisingly tasty. Here’s my recipe:

2 oz unsweetened baker’s chocolate
2 tblspns coconut milk fat (it usually separates from the milk in the can)
2 tspns blueberries (or cherries, mango bits, orange bits, peppermint leaves, peanut butter, whatever you like)
1 tspn vanilla flavored hemp seed milk
1 tspn raw sugar (unless the coconut milk is sweetened)
1 pinch/sprinkle cinnamon

Place all ingredients into a small bowl. Cover and microwave on 50% power for 1 minute and 30 seconds, or until chocolate is melted enough to stir. Stir ingredients until consistent, adding more sugar if needed. Enjoy warm with a spoon, or shape into balls and let solidify in the fridge. Nummy-nums. :)

Note: Refrigerate any uneaten portion.

26 January 2010

Letting Go of Then


Remember when I consolidated three old notebooks into one new Word document? That was such a refreshing experience, I decided to go through all of my pre-2000 notebooks, pluck out the best items, and put them into a three-ring binder. I also created Word docs for my favorite quotes (from others) and my favorite fragments/musings (from myself), so the binder is surprisingly thin.

I can remember times when I looked at those old notebooks and thought, What if something happens to them? Fire, flood, tornado? I couldn’t stand to lose them! But when I actually read through them this week, I couldn’t wait to lose them. To let go. To be in the Now. There was way too much complaining in those journals, which I suppose I thought would make for more dramatic reading later, or maybe I got therapeutic value from. Either way, I needed to grow up and get over myself.

Now that I’ve grown up, gotten over myself, and finished my consolidation project, I have only two notebooks. One is a small journal I began in 2003 and am now using solely as a gratitude journal (which reminds me, I haven’t made an entry in a while). The other is my main notebook, which I use for anything that should be handwritten rather than typed, since handwriting provides a closer connection to the right brain and the subconscious mind. I think every writer needs notebooks, but we don’t necessarily need to keep everything in them for twenty years. (Note: The quote in the photo above is by Rumi.)

19 January 2010

One New Hobby (Lobby)

I have discovered Hobby Lobby. I am forever changed. Okay maybe not forever, but I am impressed with the size and selection of that place. It's like the Walmart of crafting supplies, with everything you want plus a few things you don’t know you need until you see them. During my visit last week, I got several ideas for projects, including the prosperity corner I mentioned in a previous post.

I’ve also discovered the coolest car wash. It’s called Top Notch Express, and you actually stay in your car while it rolls along the wash track. You’re instructed to keep your hands off the wheel and your foot off the brake, so while your car is moving, you’re unable to steer, brake, or see (when suds and water are covering the windows). It’s a strange sensation that, for the uninitiated, has probably led to a panic attack or two. It reminded me of the indoor, in-the-dark roller coaster at Dollywood, albeit at a slower pace. But this ride costs only $4, and it washes your car.

12 January 2010

Saving and Streamlining

I’m still in saving and streamlining mode, and I’ve been a busy bee. I’ve canceled my Netflix account and am borrowing DVDs for free from the public library. With the library, I can request (get in line for) the movies online, receive a call when they’re ready, and swing by to pick them up, along with whatever books I’ve requested.

I’ve also canceled my cellular plan and am using AT&T’s GoPhone service (with my same phone), which charges a flat rate of $3 per day only on days I use my phone. The $3 fee covers unlimited usage (for that day) as well as roaming and long distance in the US. Since I dislike talking on the phone, and since we have a landline in the house, it’ll be fun to see how little I can talk and how much I can save.

I’ve tailored my grocery shopping as well. By shopping at Kroger and using their Plus Card, I’m spending about $50 per week, even with my whole/natural diet. They have such a great selection of natural foods and non-food items, I barely have to visit Earth Fare or Target now. They even sell gas! It’s discounted 15 cents per gallon if you have (and use) their credit card.

05 January 2010

One New (Prosperity) Corner: Applying Feng Shui

Right now I’m all about streamlining my living space, partly for the new year and partly in hopes of moving soon. I’ve fitted most of my printed photos into one album, created two collages with the leftovers, and condensed three old notebooks into one new Word doc. The notebooks were full of white space and amateur, meandering musings from the early ‘90s, so it was fairly easy to pluck out the good stuff.

I’ve also refreshed my knowledge of feng shui, but the original purpose didn’t involve my living space. I was researching an income idea, which led to learning my Kua number (I’m a three) and comparing my living space with the Pa Kua (pie slices) and/or Bagua (squares, shown above). Surprisingly, my space passed inspection, but there was one sore spot of neglect: my prosperity corner.

Now, is placing something green in a corner really going to bring money pouring in? Maybe not, but maybe so. Maybe it’s more about the intent than what you actually put there. It’s about the belief and the balance, because at its core, feng shui is about balance.

Since feng shui can get complicated, and sometimes NO change is better than the wrong change, I’m still considering how best to outfit my prosperity corner. I’ve already got the wood element going on, but I could use a bit of water and maybe an image with red, gold, green, and purple in it. Maybe a collage. Maybe a plant with red-violet flowers... ooh in a gold colored pot! Hmm, wait, that’s a bit busy. Any suggestions? Here’s how it looks now: