Friday, August 22, 2014

My New Obsessions: Cabins & Unplugging

It's possible that I have a new addiction, one for which I have no intention of ever seeking recovery. My name is Christy, and I'm addicted to cabins. Small, quaint, beautiful cabins tucked away in unassuming villages in the mountains. 

You may remember that a few months back, Daniel and I went on a spur of the moment trip to a cottage in a town called Accord in upstate New York. Last week, we got that same familiar itch to escape for a bit, so we packed up only the essentials and drove to Camp Tremper, a quiet oasis that I had discovered on AirBnb just one day before. That's her up there with the red door. Ain't she a beaut?

Our reasons for this trip were many, but let's get to those in a bit. First take a look at our digs (apologies for the grainy picture quality):

Crates used as side tables, shelves equipped with camping essentials, a simple decorative rug, and that was basically it. I loved the sparse nature of this cabin, providing only what was needed. Minimalism is a design element that I rarely incorporate into my own home decor. My design aesthetic usually involves shelves stacked high with too many books, walls covered in trinkets from too many trips to flea markets, cat pictures, dinosaurs, unplayed guitars, paintings I started and never finished, and awkward furniture to bump my knees on.

That's the usual chaos I welcome into my home, so this empty cabin kind of felt like being pulled from the rubble of a hoarder nightmare. It was simple and splendid, as was this sweet spot where we ate breakfast every day:

We woke up naturally each morning, no alarms or roosters or anything to rouse us. I would be up first to make some coffee in a french press (a thing I don't do at home, but I really want to start) and plate some pastries that we had gotten at a local bakery the day before. When Daniel woke up, I beamed with pride as I told him that breakfast was waiting for him on the porch, as though I had slaved away refining the flour and churning the butter to make these store-bought pastries possible. 

After breakfast, we would set about either relaxing or pursuing creative endeavors. Daniel made zucchini pizzas. I wrote a story about a man who finds himself in a far away galaxy on a planet in which nearly every convention of earth is replicated except that there are giant caterpillars living on top of mountains. 

And then after all of that, we would explore.

We went to a nearby town called "Woodstock", famous for some something that happened in the 1960s. Something to do with music, peace & love, or whatever. Who even knows anymore.

At the end of each day, we would come home to our little nature haven, cook a simple dinner, drink a great deal of wine, and play a game. The first night it was Trivial Pursuit, a version from 1980 that our AirBnb hosts had provided. We knew almost none of the answers, and it was hilarious. The next night we tried to invent a game called "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves" but all we could come up with was the title. Again, we'd had some wine.

So why did we take this trip? Why did we feel compelled to leave New York City suddenly, smack dab in the middle of the week, to drink wine and play Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves? Well, for one thing, we did it because we could do it. Daniel has been on summer break, and of course, freelance life is always pretty flexible on my end. A last-minute trip to a cabin in the mountains seemed totally doable for us. But the main reason for this trip, at least for me, was a bit more personal, a bit more intentional than just wanting to take a fun vacation.

Here's the deal: lately I have just been feeling a bit anxious. It's a specific kind of anxiety, though, one that is all tied up with life in the digital world. My laptop, my phone, Twitter, Facebook, Buzzfeed, even blogging -- it's all been making me kind of sick. I'm feeling way too plugged in, too connected, too notified. 

While I know that cyber sickness is not uncommon, this has just been a surprisingly difficult season of it. Instead of being amused by my Twitter feed or my notifications, I've been finding myself rather alarmed by them. It's not just that there is bad news out there right now (though seriously, these past two weeks have been a shit storm of horrific news). It's more that I've just felt this unnerving pressure associated with all of it. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to the fact that I've been writing weekly culture pieces, and to prep, I scour Twitter for content to write about. I feel like a zombie in an obsessive search for one human brain in a sea of the undead. Twitter is a really weird place guys. 

Whatever the case, last week I just got really fed up with the Internet and my life's connection to it. We went to the mountains, I shut off my phone, and you know what, I could breathe again.

My mind is still pretty unprocessed about this whole thing. These days, I seem to only be able to think in caveman-like grunts: Social media BAD, mountains GOOD, phone NECESSARY, computer ALSO NECESSARY. While exploring mountain life with my hubs was an awesome refresher, it wasn't a totally realistic picture of my actual life. For me, in my line of work, in doing this thing that I am so very lucky to be able to do, having an online presence is just an inevitability. I need to strike a healthy balance.

Perhaps if you are reading this, you might be thinking that this is all kind of silly. I mean, who cares, right? Shut off your computer when it's making you stressed, and stop worrying so much, geez. 

And I wish it could be that simple, and maybe it is, but I am just not there yet. That's why, at the very least, I'm thankful for AirBnb, mountains, and Camp Tremper.

Do you ever get social media sickness? How do you handle it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

3 Years Ago Today

Three years ago today, at this very hour, I was shaking a maraca.

I had just gotten married to a man with the jawline of a Disney prince, and this man had made promises in front of all of our family and friends to love me and honor me for the rest of our lives. If ever there is an occasion in life to shake a maraca, I think that's probably it.

Three years ago today, at this exact hour, the people I loved most were dancing their faces off.

They really were. Like, their faces were actually potentially melting off. The room was a sweaty, beautiful mess of some of the most incredible human beings I've ever known just getting cray. It was seriously what I imagine Heaven will be like.

Three years ago today, at this exact hour, I was beyond thankful. Beyond humbled. I danced alongside amazing people: those who had mentored me and my new husband, those who had prayed for us, cried with us, laughed so hard it hurt with us, people who had been there the very day we met, people who had known us from birth. I felt positively wealthy with the love poured out from these individuals. Filthy stinking rich, actually. 

Three years ago today, at this exact hour, my new husband and I had no idea what the rest of our lives would bring. 

We didn't know that we would spend the next few months working a total of seven part-time jobs between the two of us. 
We didn't know that within the year, we would leave our sweet, comfortable life in Austin for the adventure of a lifetime in New York City. 
We didn't know that we would spend the first four months of that adventure living with three cats that weren't ours in a Brooklyn sublet apartment. 
We didn't know that finding our own apartment in Brooklyn would be an agonizing hellride. 
We didn't know that our favorite restaurant would be a pan asian place on Cortelyou Road called Purple Yam. 
We didn't know that our careers would be turned upside down and rightside up more times than we could count. 
We didn't know that we would join a wonderful church, let alone that we would help in planting one in Midtown, Manhattan. 
We didn't know that we would meet people so beautiful, patient, kind, hilarious, and wise -- people whose friendship would change the way we see the world. 
We didn't even know that we would adopt a cat named Frasier...and that he would be awesome (I mean, we figured as much, but we didn't know).

Three years ago today, at this exact hour, we were just a clueless husband and wife team dancing, laughing, singing hit songs from the summer of 2011 while shaking maracas.

Just look at these idiots.

Three years later, at this exact hour, we are sitting in our Brooklyn apartment after a day of exploring the city we love. Our cat, Frasier, is nowhere to be seen. He's probably hiding in a closet somewhere being awesome as per usual. 

A lot about our lives has changed since that night three years ago. Different city, new friends, new jobs, new dreams. But one thing remains: we are still utterly clueless. We have little idea what the next few years will bring, and we think that's completely fine, honestly. What we have is each other, what we have is a community of people who love us, and hey, we still have those maracas, so I think we're good.

Now, if you don't mind, I'll take a quick moment to address that husband of mine:

Husband of mine, Happy Anniversary. As a fierce lover of books and movies, you know that many stories seem to end with a wedding, and I think that's honestly a damn shame. For us, our story was put into hyperdrive the minute we said "I do," and since then, that story just keeps building and getting way more interesting. In these three years, the two of us have done the weirdest, most wonderful things that I ever could have dreamed possible. There is no one else on this earth with whom I would want to share such a story. 

Daniel, you are nice and hilarious and warm and loving and so very brave. Thank you for asking me to marry you. 

And thanks to EVERYONE, every last one of you, who has supported and loved us along the way. On a day that celebrates our relationship, all we can really talk about is how grateful we are for you. Really. Like, we can't shut up about it. We love you.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My First Vlog!

Today I sat down at the computer and I realized, man, I do not want to write. Like, at all.

But I still wanted to communicate something on my blog because, hey, I love the people who read it. So I started thinking, why not make a video? 

Posted below is my first ever vlog! Forewarning, production-wise, it's a little rough. The top of my head is cut off for most of it, and the sound is meh. Whatever, I'm not Peter Jackson.

When I started rolling, I had no clue where I was going with it, but it ended with my husband and I making bets on whether my mom would use certain phrases during a phone call. Also, midway through, my four-year-old niece shows up on the call to dialogue about the woes of being sick. Note that I've since received permission from my sweet mom to post this (she's a gem, and she actually thinks the concept is hilarious). Enjoy!

Happy Weekend, guys!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Is It Just Me: The dream version of my husband is a jerk!

I've done enough humble bragging on this blog for you to know by now that my husband is top notch in my book. He's brilliant, respectful, kind, and handsome as a Disney prince (a combination of Prince Eric and Aladdin, if you want to get specific). He's also hilarious. Like, outrageously so. Take for instance this conversation we had over the weekend:

Amazing, right? Also, if you're wondering what a marmoset looks like, here you go:

Via | By the way, New York City would be the perfect place to raise this guy.

So in my waking life, I walk around feeling like I've won the lottery with this husband of mine. But in my dreams, it's not always the same story. In fact, Dream Daniel, the one who I meet after I enter REM sleep, is kind of an ass.

Now, something to note: I am a vivid dreamer. Almost every night I have memorable dreams, oftentimes recurring ones. For instance, I frequently dream that I'm about to graduate, but it turns out I can't because somehow I've completely neglected to attend one of my classes. Oh no! I totally forgot that I signed up for that Folklore Criticism course!

I also have dreams related to wedding planning. I've been married for almost three years, but something about the anxiety of putting together a wedding still resonates with me. It's usually about some huge oversight that I realize on the day of the wedding -- I've forgotten to buy a dress, get a marriage license, or invite my family and friends.

For some reason, if Daniel shows up in one of these dreams of mine, it's like he's the anti-Daniel (or Bizarro Daniel, if you will). He's rude, careless, and selfish. For instance, say he makes an appearance in one of my wedding stress dreams -- first off, because my subconscious makes some pretty corny and obvious associations, he usually shows up looking like this:

Classic bad boy.

Then when I approach him about how all of my wedding plans are falling apart, it usually goes something like this:

Me: Daniel! We forgot to invite people to our wedding AND I didn't buy a dress! I'll probably have to walk down the aisle naked!
Daniel: (leans against a wall and takes a long drag on his cigarette) No problem, babe.
Me: No problem? We need to reschedule!
Daniel: No, we don't. 
Me: We don't?
Daniel: No, because we're not getting married.
Me: (suddenly naked) We're not?
Daniel: Nope. Look, I've decided I only want to marry cool girls. You know, like, girls who don't cry during commercials or take cat pictures.
Me: But...I thought you liked cat pictures...I thought...
Daniel: Well, you thought wrong. (snaps fingers) Let's go, Bigger-Boobed Christy. (a woman enters who looks exactly like me only she has giant boobs and she's wearing a leather pantsuit a la Olivia Newton John at the end of the movie, "Grease")
Bigger-Boobed Christy: Coming, baby!
(they exit together and all of my teeth fall out)

So that might be a bit dramatic, but that's kind of how it goes. Whenever Dream Daniel shows up, I can pretty much count on him to be an outrageous jerkhole. Then I wake up, and I find myself inexplicably angry with him, trying to sort out if anything I just experienced was real. Then real-life Daniel makes me pancakes and tells me I'm beautiful even though I slept in my makeup and it's smeared all over my face. Then I remember that he's awesome, and I eat pancakes, and I'm over it.

Still, I can't help but wonder why my husband, a man who is by all accounts saintly, appears in my dreams as this villain. In my waking life, I don't fear that he will run off with a big-boobed greaser or that he doesn't actually like the pictures I take of my cat (he takes more than I do!), but in my dreams, he's always pulling crap like that. Without overanalyzing it, I've just decided that Dream Daniel is a necessary evil in my life. He exists to illuminate how great Real Daniel is. Right? I hope so.

Anyway, does anyone else have experience with this or, is it just me? (By the way, doesn't that question have the makings of becoming a fantastic new series on this blog? I think so.) 

Is your significant other a dreamboat in real life but a buttface in your dreams? If so, why do you think that is? Is it just me, or is this a thing?

By the way, my hubs gave me his expressed permission to post this not-so-glamorous depiction of him. After all, it's Dream Daniel who is ruining things, not Real Daniel. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Three Favorite Foods: Eggs, Shrimp, & Doughnuts

Since moving to New York, I have noticed a decent number of Mexican-Chinese fusion restaurants scattered all across the city. You heard me right: Mexican & Chinese are together at last. These are places where you can order a chimichanga with a side of egg drop soup, and if you're into it, you can order sesame chicken and ask them to put it all in a flour tortilla. It's kind of amazing.

And while these two cuisines may have seemingly little do with each other (besides the fact that they both serve rice), the plain truth is that they are both delicious. I appreciate this business model because I enjoy imagining that it was created when someone thought aloud to themselves, "You know what I like? Egg rolls. You know what else I like? Flautas. Hey, wait a second..."

The idea of combining favorite foods into one culinary experience is a great one, but unfortunately, I may never find a restaurant that heavily features all of mine. For inquiring minds, here are my top 3 favorite foods -- by far:



& Doughnuts

Brooklyn food vendors, listen up: If any one of you ever decides to create a restaurant called "The Egg, Shrimp, & Doughnut Shack", you better believe I will be your number one customer. I will pay good money to eat a shrimp frittata and follow it down with some sweet, fried dough. No shame whatsoever.

But even I know the concept for this restaurant is unlikely. These foods really just don't fully belong together (shrimp and eggs maybe, but it's definitely not the most conventional choice). Still, I'm an optimist, so if anyone ever does decide to create the restaurant of my dreams, I want them to be ready. Here are some delicious versions of these three outstanding foods (and can just make these at home if you're into that kind of thing):


Simple Poached Egg & Avocado Toast via Pinch of Yum

Pan Roasted Asparagus with Fried Eggs via Shutterbean

Tortilla EspaƱola via Saveur


Spicy Shrimp Corn Chowder via Playful Cooking

Garlic Butter Shrimp via Damn Delicious

Prosciutto Wrapped Garlic Shrimp via BS in the Kitchen


Black and White Baked Donuts via Joy the Baker

Baked Apple Spice Donut Holes via Chew Out Loud

Doughnut Pancakes with Doughnut Glaze Syrup via Cooking Classy

So there you have it. Nine representations of my three favorite foods which should probably never be paired together, like, ever. Still, I'm hoping and praying for the grand opening of The Egg, Shrimp, & Donut Shack.

Do your favorite foods pair well together? Would the restaurant of your dreams be as weird as mine?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My First Blogging Conference: Alt Summit Recap

“If you have an apple and I have an apple, and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea, and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” 
These wonderful words, first spoken by playwright George Bernard Shaw, perfectly encapsulate the spirit of Alt Summit. Alt is a place to spark conversation, share ideas, and feel generally understood. I loved my time there -- the people, the insights, the glorious decor. Here were some of my favorite bits:

The Grand America Hotel

The conference took place at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, and let me tell was grand. Like, guys, I did not belong anywhere near a hotel that nice. Chandeliers everywhere, victorian wallpaper for days, chairs that were so fancy I was afraid to sit in them -- it was a wonderland packed with amenities and I was not worthy of any of it. I actually didn't sleep at the Grand America, but I basked in the glory of it any time I was there.

The bathroom sponsored by The Honest Co.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I may have spent like 30% of my time at Alt in the bathroom. For one, it was a great place to run into people (Oh hey, girl! I'm loving that lip stain you're applying. Also, can we be friends forever?!). But the biggest reason I kept finding myself attracted to the bathroom was the SICK swag spread laid out by The Honest Company. It was basically what I expect the bathroom in heaven will be like. All of The Honest Co.'s products are eco-friendly & non-toxic, so I felt guilt-free snatching pretty much all of them. 

Silhouette's Sponsor Dinner

The first night I arrived in SLC, I went to a dinner sponsored by the beautiful people at Silhouette. It took place at The Melting Pot, you know, the place where you DIP THINGS INTO CHEESE AND CHOCOLATE. So yeah, obviously, it was delicious. But even better, the company was absolutely top notch. There was one long table where most of the attendees sat, but I ended up at a small booth with four other phenomenal women. It was such a joy to laugh and swap stories with these genuine, hilarious girls. Big shout out to Carly, Brooke, Emily, and Camille and a big, huge thank-you to Silhouette for creating such an amazing evening.

Pinterest Strategies Breakout Session

Alex Evjen and Rachel Faucett

I actually stole the George Bernard Shaw quote I used earlier from Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte. She and Alex Evjen of Ave Styles had me and a room full of others positively mesmerized during their presentation on the ins-and-outs of Pinterest. You might not expect a session about Pinterest to be deeply inspirational, but I found myself so riveted by the way they framed the conversation. One of my greatest takeaways from this discussion was the idea of being an "influencer." I tend to reserve that word for people with thousands of Twitter followers and signature fragrances, but it turns out if you know any humans who like you even a little bit, you get to call yourself an influencer. Your mom, your sister, your college roommate -- all of these folks are people whose lives you influence, and it's totally okay to call on them to help share your content because, hey, they're your biggest fans. That's how you grow your influence: work with the people you've already got.

Hosting a roundtable discussion

I hosted a roundtable on Blogging with Comedic Voice, and I loved absolutely every minute of it. Since this was my first time at Alt, I really didn't know what to expect from the roundtable format, and I was particularly nervous that my topic wouldn't really work with it. As it turns out, it went swimmingly, and it was all thanks to the lovely gals who showed up. They just made it such a profoundly fun, easy experience. Before long, the table was full of women from all parts of the blogging world discussing what it means to utilize humor in our various contexts. I learned so much just by listening to their experiences, and I honestly could have stayed in that little comedy huddle for days.

Oh, and for anyone who wasn't able to make it to my roundtable (or those of you who weren't even at Alt), I posted some of my notes for you on the blog. 

The beautiful people

Blogging can be a really isolating experience at times. It's usually just you, your computer, and thazzit. Alt created a place (a real place, not an online one) for all of us isolated blogger weirdos to be together and just marvel at each other. There were times where I would see people whose blogs I read, and I would think, my god...they're moving. Breathing, eating, occupying physical space. That blogger is more than just her profile picture or her DIY tote bags -- she's a human being.

And I met so many beautiful human beings at Alt. Everyone was truly kind, ready to embrace you and talk about any and everything (not just blogging). I engaged in conversations about marriage, womanhood, cocktails, Tina Fey -- you name it. It was so uplifting to be around such talented, authentic people.

The business cards

Remember all of those beautiful human beings I was talking about? Well, those guys made some seriously creative business cards. While business cards are usually a staple at most conferences, they have become somewhat of a magical tradition at Alt Summit. People deck their cards out with trinkets, toys, gorgeous designs. It's amazing, and every time you get a new one, you feel like a million bucks. It felt like I was a nine-year-old in the 90s trading Pokemon cards -- gotta catch em all.

There was so much I loved about Alt, and I actually don't even think I began to scratch the surface here. Oh, like I forgot to mention this insanely pretty garden party that took place on the final evening:

So in summation, Alt was excellent. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go, and I would love to go again. Going into this experience, I was nervous about awkwardly inserting myself into conversations or being the comedy gal in a sea of designers, but I decided to just go with it. I sat down with strangers, I mixed, I mingled, and it was great. There is a lesson to be learned here, probably something about putting myself out there or making the best of every situation, but meh, I won't overthink it.

Thanks to all who made Alt the joyful thrill ride that it was!

All photos (except for that one Instagram of me awkwardly standing by my roundtable) courtesy of Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis


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