An Armful of Mangos

My mom came to visit today, and it was like a warm breeze blew in. With the breeze came three plants from my dad, an armful of mangos, some housewares, and donuts from my favorite donut place in my hometown. I have such a cool mom. She is unapologetically herself, strong, independent, smart, and goofy. She makes hard things look easy, and I just can’t stress enough how beautiful of a person she is. Inside and out. I could write a novel about her and how much I love her. But, I’ll leave that for another day.

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I gave her the grand tour of my new home, and we laid on my bed and talked, the way we always do. So many of our visits include us snuggling up on a bed, filling each other in on our lives. I imagine that I probably was pretty snotty sometimes when I was younger. Not in junior high or high school, really, when most girls are snotty to their moms. But in college, I know that I had some prickly moments. But, my mom still likes me. She thinks I’m cool and funny, and she’s proud of me. Both my mom and dad do, which is why they bring me plants and mangos.

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And now, I’ll message my mother a long list of things that I need for my new home, and I’ll anxiously await her next visit, and I’ll also be on the lookout for wild blackberries so that she and I can make a blackberry cobbler. Plans, plans, plans.

 

Earth Day

I think that Earth Day is one of my favorite days. I have such great memories of Earth Day through the years, like going to the 10 a.m. showing of the Disney Earth movie one year, and going to art festivals, and buying a whole bunch of plants that would later die in my arms. Earth Day is the one day in the entire year, where our planet is celebrated! We live on such a beautiful planet, and I want to see all of it. There are so many trips I want to take and things I want to do, and I hope that we learn how to take care of our planet so that our children’s children’s children can do it all, too.

My mom always taught me to recycle. I didn’t understand the importance of it, and I was always peeved when she would make me get the empty tuna can, or empty peanut butter jar out of the trash and make me rinse it and recycle it instead. But, I get it now and I want to make a difference.

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This year’s Earth Day was spent at Pepper Place, Birmingham’s farmer’s market. It was my first time going since we’ve moved back, and it’s always such a treat. We stocked up on strawberries, green tomatoes, Trey’s favorite donuts, and my favorite chocolates. Then, we spent the entire morning driving around Birmingham. We were meant to be looking for yard sales, but we ended up just enjoying the sweet, southern air as we drove through the backroads, admiring the verdant landscape.

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Then, last night, James woke each of us up, at different times. It felt like we had a human baby, and it was very, very strange. There was a very loud storm, and I heard James meowing loudly, so I got up to see what his deal was. Next thing I know, Trey was awake too, saving the day by letting me know what the scary, loud, rattling sound was that James and I were trying to investigate. It was the rain was pelting the steel cover on the window AC unit. The two of us stood in the kitchen with our huge, still-a-baby-on-the-inside-cat so that he could feel safe while he had a midnight snack.

Now, it’s the day after Earth Day, I love our planet just as much, and my plumpy dumpy cat who was asleep smushed against my face this morning, has been sleeping all day long beside me. It’s a slow and cloudy Sunday, and I’m taking advantage of this opportunity for rest.

Mood Board

We’re working hard to make our home feel homey before we both sink back into our work rhythms, and I do love our new home. It was built in 1935, and has beautiful natural light and hardwood floors. Some of the windows still have the original glass, and the place has a lot of character. Character. That’s what a place has when it has a lot of really strange, quirky parts to it. For example…the kitchen has two outlets, one of them is located above the stove. There is a step up to the bathroom, so that took some getting used to. It’s the only stair in the entire place, so I think we both almost face planted a couple of times. There are a bunch of other little things here and there, but I love this place. I love the creaky floorboards and I love that I can hear my upstairs neighbors walking around. I love the cozy kitchen, and the bright, sunny laundry room. I love the neighborhood and the gardening opportunities. It’s perfect for us right now.

For the last nine months, we were living with most of our things in storage. When we moved into this place and went through our boxes, we were repulsed by how much we had accumulated that we’ve just been toting along with us for years and years. We got rid of everything we hadn’t missed and anything that doesn’t bring either of us joy. We still have a lot of work to do- but we’ve made so much progress and our place is coming along nicely. We are going to spend tomorrow at our local farmer’s market, and then we are going to scout out some yard sales and estate sales for things that we are missing.

I love when I’m given an opportunity to start fresh.

Show and Tell

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Show and Tell is such a great concept, I think. You show something that is important to you, and you tell others about it. I’ve always been fascinated by this, even in elementary school. I was thrilled when my classmates would bring in their latest fascination, or their favorite stuffed animal, or their new bookmark. SO! I’m going to do that here. I’m going to show some of my current favorites, whether it’s recipes, songs, movies, brands, household cleaners, artists, etc., and I’m going to tell you why I love them.

  1. See’s Candies. Have you ever had these? You can build your own box of them online, and they are heavenly. My favorites are the butterscotch squares, the dark bordeaux, the dark butterchew, the scotchmallows, the polar bear paws, the walnut squares, the vanilla nut caramels, and nearly every single other delectable treat that they sell. Trey and I used to buy a box of fun chocolates for our trips out of town. Hopefully I’ll remember these next time I want to treat myself.
  2. Shotwell Candy. I had their sea salt caramels for the first time at Alabama Chanin, in Florence, AL. LET ME TELL YOU. I bought these for my coworkers and a few of my nearest and dearest this past Christmas (maybe even myself), and they were a hit.
  3. My Favorite Murder. This is a podcast that was recommended to me by the only other person I know who feels the way I do about serial killers and dark stories, my girl Abbey. The podcast is done by two women who remind me so much of Abbey and myself. I imagine that they are sitting on their couch with a fancy microphone and a bottle of wine, just chatting it up and giggling through their fears. They know that the stories they share many not be 100% accurate when it comes to cold, hard facts, but they welcome any corrections that come their way. It’s the best, and if that kind of stuff floats your boat, give it a listen.
  4. Glossier. I imagine that at this point, everyone knows about Glossier. So many celebrities wore it at the Oscars, and it’s everywhere on Instagram. I have the milky jelly cleanser and boy brow, both of which I love. I am working on developing a morning and evening routine for myself so that I can take better care of my skin. Soon, I will get the priming moisturizer and balm dotcom. The ingredients are mostly clean, compared to many beauty products that have toxic ingredients in them. The brand has an important message, the products work, and…the branding is beautiful. So… win, win, win.
  5. I don’t have anything to show for this, but when I went to see Beauty and the Beast (the second time), the theater had a sign up that read, “Feel Free to Be You”. The sign said that on certain nights, certain movies will play in a theater with the lights on and the sound a little bit quieter so that people with autism can get up, move around, talk, shout, and sing! I thought it was incredible. I only know of AMC theaters that do this, but I think that it should be a thing everywhere. Taking my younger brother to the movies is always great, but I feel like he loses interest after a while since he isn’t able to enjoy it his way.
  6. I am making an effort to be more conscious about what’s in the products that I buy. I am not going to start composting anytime soon, and I don’t think my building recycles (not that that meant that I can’t). BUT! I’m trying to live with less waste, ask for paper bags over plastic when I shop, use products that have little to no effect on the environment, and only buy products that contain little to no harmful ingredients! It’ll be very expensive if I’m not careful, so I’m doing my research and shopping carefully. A few brands that I’ve found that I’m excited to try: Herbivore BotanicalsErin’s Faces, Rocky Mountain Soap Co., Dr. Bronner’s, and Living Libations. I used to have mascara by Well People, and I loved it! I don’t wear much makeup, usually only lipstick, liquid eye liner, and mascara on a day to day basis- so a mascara that didn’t leave my lashes feeling heavy and clumpy was perfect.

That’s it for now! If you, dear reader, have anything to show and tell, I’d love to hear it! Maybe I’ll even pass it along.

A Banjo on My Knee

I was born and raised in Alabama, the centermost southern state, the Heart of Dixie. Up until last August, I had lived there all my life. I hadn’t really considered my southern roots until we moved to Florida. I would say “y’all” and someone would repeat it back to me, not in a rude way, but more like a fun little wink, acknowledging something. I’d stretch out a word and then I’d hear it said back to me, in the same way. I’d always follow that echo with, “Is that really how I said it?” My southern accent isn’t something I get called out for often. It’s not very thick or very pronounced, and for the longest time I tried to hide it because I knew that the south had a history. Alabama is practically known for that one billboard that says “GO TO CHURCH OR THE DEVIL WILL GET YOU”, and many other things, mostly negative. I remember being nine or ten, when this girl who was selling books of some sort came by our house. She was from Colorado, or somewhere out west, and was surprised that people in Alabama had cars, shoes, nice homes, and clothes other than overalls. That was probably the moment when I first became a little bit embarrassed to tell people where I was from.

Over the last several years, I’ve learned to shake most of that off. I wish that my home state was more progressive, and had a less offensive history. But, I know that I can set myself apart from the negativity by just being myself, and still be a part of this beautiful state. In fact, since we moved back, I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud to be a part of it.

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Every time I step foot outside, I feel drunk off of the Alabama air. It sounds completely crazy, but the air is so sweet and it smells so good, and there are so many different shades of green, and the southern charm is EVERYWHERE. Trey won’t stop exclaiming various phrases, “GOSH!” “%$#&!” “IT’S SO PRETTY!” “HOLY COW!” and letting out squeals and yells and sighs. He is so happy to be here, and even though he isn’t even originally from Alabama, it’s his home. He told me that Alabama looks good on me, and I believe him. On Easter, we went to my grandparents’ house, and I felt like I was swimming in southern culture, like it was a big pot of black-eyed peas with a side of cornbread. My whole family was there, and it was as if someone was giving me medicine that I had been trying to live without for nearly a year. Trey was so happy, and I think he smiled the whole way home that day. I spent the drive thinking about what it is that I love about this place so much. Why did the day feel so good? Why did I not feel sad all day long? Last week I found out that my grandfather, Papa has cancer. We don’t know how advanced it is yet, but we know enough to know that nothing is really going to get better. He and I had a few minutes alone together, and we were able to talk about it. He said that he isn’t in a hurry to go anywhere, and he knows that it’s going to get a lot worse. He said that Nanny is tired, and that they both expected something like this. I held his hands and he said that his hands are numb, his guess is arthritis, and that everything hurts. I asked if he could feel me holding his hands, and he said it mainly felt like pressure. I asked if it hurt his jaw when I hugged him earlier (he has cancer in his mouth), and he said that it didn’t. My eyes were teary, and I knew he could tell, but we spoke honestly and openly. He said that he is happy that I’m here, and happy that I can be around through the rest of it. He calls me Sadie, never Sarah. Always Sadie or Sadie May. Trey has said that my southern accent is at its height when I talk to my Papa. I don’t ever hear it, but he says that it’s more pronounced than it is when I talk to anyone else, anywhere else. I know that he is right. When I’m done talking to him, my mouth feels different. My jaw feels like it’s been working in a way that it normally doesn’t work, and it feels tired. I love it. It’s like his voice grabs onto mine, and changes it. I feel different when I’m talking to him, and afterwards. I feel lighter and everything seems easier. He is everything that it means to be a southern gentleman, and he is a brilliant man. He embodies everything that I love about the south, and he is one of the many reasons that I’m so happy to be home. I’m happy that my southern roots run deep, deep, deep, and that I have time to learn my Papa’s recipe for biscuits, and my Nanny’s recipe for chocolate gravy.

“Oh, Susanna, oh don’t you cry for me. I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee.”

 

Life Lately

I had my twenty-fifth birthday the other day, and it was pretty perfect. We spent the first part of the day in Disney World, and then ended it with some shopping and Sprinkles cupcakes. I’ve had chocolate covered strawberries in lieu of a birthday cake for the last seven years, and this year was no different. We bought the ingredients and whipped up a few to keep that tradition alive. But, JENA, my sweet fairy of a sister, surprised me with a birthday cake which brought on the singing of “Happy Birthday to You”, thus completing my birthday.

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We are hitting up our favorite restaurants before we move back HOME TO BIRMINGHAM, so we made sure to work Bar Taco into our rounds. I want to always always always eat by candle light.

 

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Yesterday, we scouted out some antique stores and flea markets on the way to Disney World, and stumbled upon State Theatre, a theatre from 1939 that has been turned into an antique store.

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We stayed at Coronado Springs Resort last night, and I may have said before that I love heavy theming. If not, you need to know that I love heavy theming. My thirteenth(?) birthday party was luau themed with grass skirts and leis and Hawaiian art deco posters on the wall. My eleventh or twelfth birthday was lime green themed. The color, lime green, was the theme of my birthday party and I loved it. It was my favorite color, and I got so many bottles of bubble bath, “body splash”, probably a t-shirt or two from Limited Too, and a set of leopard print duffle bags with a matching toiletry case. I love heavily themed restaurants, parties, kitchens, beach houses, cabins, whole cities, etc.. There’s a coffee shop in Birmingham that is space themed, and it’s the coolest. They play movies like Star Wars and E.T., and I’ve even seen episodes of The Jetsons being played there. It’s the greatest. But, I digress… last night we went to Coronado Springs Resort, which is decorated like Spanish Colonial Mexico. The cacti, the brightly colored buildings and the Mayan pyramid in one of the swimming pools are just a couple of this place’s gems. We swam in the beautiful pool, sipped our fancy drinks, and had a phenomenal time. Later, we headed out for the evening so that we could watch the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom one last time, since they’ll be starting a new one in May!

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I’ll miss being able to go to Disney whenever I want. This morning we ordered Mickey Mouse waffles in bed, and then headed out for a day of heavily themed fun.

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I love these cotton trees! I have no idea what they are, and the only place I’ve ever seen them is in Disney World by the Swiss Family Robinson’s tree house.

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I love my life with this guy. I love talking about the future and the babies we will have years down the road. I love that he isn’t a planner, but he tries for me. I love that he listens to me and loves me so hard that it hurts him, and I love how much I love him. We are sickeningly cute together, and I LOVE it.

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To whoever is reading this: I hope that you find someone who loves you the way that this guy loves me. If you aren’t the type to marry, I hope that you at least find them, and keep them forever. If you aren’t the type to keep someone forever, I hope that at the very least, you acknowledge their love for you, and let it teach you all sorts of things that you didn’t know you needed to learn.

What I Won’t Miss

This is a long list, so prepare yourself. It’s also not as lovely and lighthearted as my previous list, Things I Will Miss. So, prepare yourself for the negativity that is laid out before you.

These are the things that I won’t miss about living in Florida. Please, Florida readers, do not take offense. I’m sure that YOU are wonderful, like so many of the people who I have met here. These are just observations that I’ve had, and merely my personal experience. I love visiting your beautiful state, but I am so excited to move out of it.

  1. Traffic. A commute to work is completely unpredictable here. It might take me thirty minutes, or an hour and thirty minutes.
  2. The car accidents. Every time that the traffic guy on the radio tells about the traffic conditions around the city, never have I ever heard that the roads were accident free. In Birmingham, I did hear that occasionally, and I was always comforted when I heard it. I see multiple accidents every single day. Most of them have injuries, sometimes loss of life.
  3. The drivers. In my ten/eleven years of driving, I’ve been given “the bird” or  “given the finger” three times. All three of those times have been in Tampa, Florida in the last ten months.
  4. The drivers again. Driving in Florida is scary. People do this thing that I call “The Florida Swoop”, where they leave inches between you and their car as they change into or out of your lane. Motorcyclists aren’t required to wear helmets. Everyone texts and drives. People stop their cars in the middle of a four lane highway so that they can let someone turn, instead of making that person wait.
  5. The lack of dirt. Alabama smells like growth and green and life. Florida smells dry and hot.
  6. The speed of it all. I’m from Alabama, where we say “y’all” and “yes ma’am”. We grow up sitting around dinner tables having breakfast spreads consisting of homemade biscuits and homemade preserves, chocolate gravy for your biscuits if that’s what you’re into, scrambled eggs, and bacon. We have sunrooms. My mother and her family worked out in the garden because if they didn’t garden, they didn’t eat. From what I’ve noticed, we walk slower, talk slower, and live slower, and I LOVE it. I love it so much. Florida is faster. It might sound crazy, because everyone thinks that Florida is just full of elderly men and women, so how fast can it actually be? But, really, it’s fast. Very fast.
  7. The multitudes of strip clubs and adult video stores. The number is actually right up there with the number of Get Cash Now establishments, and there is a ridiculous amount of those.
  8. I’ve seen more pajamas in public (during the middle of the day) than ever before.
  9. The heat. Our air conditioning went out the first month that we lived here. August. In Florida. No AC. It was a very grouchy few days.
  10. Missing out on the changing autumn leaves. Luckily, we traveled home for a few days last fall, so we did see some. But, I missed them.
  11. Having a 78 degree Christmas.
  12. Having my Jack-o-lantern mold after two days.
  13. Our tiny bedroom. I won’t miss this, but I’ll look back on it fondly. It’s painted a very unattractive beige, and all furniture makes it feel darker and smaller than it is. It has one huge window, that I love. It’s the only thing that makes the room bearable. But, I lose everything in this room. The floors have to stay spotless, or I lose my mind and start panicking because I feel trapped and crowded. Even when it is spotless, I lose things, and lose my mind, dumping my drawers out and making a huge scene. Trey just watches, and somehow still smiles, and knows to keep his damn mouth shut. We’ve made some wonderful memories in this tiny room: despite its size, we put a live, normal-sized Christmas tree in it, I decorated it for every holiday, we’ve made huge decisions, had impromptu dance parties, treated the whole place for fleas when we saw what we thought was one flea (it wasn’t a flea), had late-night peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and made survival kits for work days that we knew would be insufferable, so many memories.
  14. The distance from home. My younger brother won’t ever fly on a plane, I assume. I imagine that a twelve-hour car ride would be quite uncomfortable for him since he is 6’4 and doesn’t tell you if he is too hot, or cold, or if his legs are cramping, or if his back hurts.
  15. The distance from my grandparents.
  16. The absence of a Madewell store.
  17. Fucillo Kia commercials. These commercials are the absolute worst commercials. I can’t really paint a picture of what makes these commercials so terribly awful. Google them, and then watch every one that they’ve ever made, because they play on every radio station, seemingly non stop. Then, turn up the volume on them and close your eyes, because they play in your dreams too. A man yelling about how “yuge” his savings are. Then, another man or a woman chimes in on some of them. I just can’t.
  18. Florida news. Newscasters cater to the vulnerable here. The local news channels only share the worst of the worst news, and the elderly just eat it up.
  19. The fascination with Donald Trump.
  20. No genuinely perfect breakfasts.
  21. The way Florida drains the life out of you. Sunshine makes you tired, which is part of its appeal because it helps you sleep well. But, the people and the atmosphere and how frustrating everything is just drains you.
  22. Sharks and alligators. I didn’t see any sharks. BUT, I won’t miss having to think about the possibility of them being nearby.
  23. The vaping. Everyone does this, and I’m not a fan.
  24. How I always feel like I’m on a completely different planet.
  25. The lack of shame. One of my first days here, I saw a car with a huge sticker running across the back window that said, “FLORIDA SLUT.” Confidence is power, and I love confidence. Be bold, but not brash.
  26. The fact that this list could be a lot longer.

I have met some incredible people here, and I’m so happy to know them. My days are so much better because of them, and I’m going to miss them very much.