Home Snapshots

We are currently 98% settled in to our new house, so I figured it was time to take some photos to preserve how it looked when it was just us here (you know, before it gets filled with babies and their related items). I really love it.

One of my favorite things is how great the paint colors turned out. The main light gray color is Sherwin Williams “Latitude,” which we found via trial and error after trying first a shade darker (“Morning Fog”) and then a shade lighter (“Olympus White”). Compared to the dark brown of our old rental house, this color seems so clean, cool, and light to me. I honestly think our things look nicer in the new house, with this color and the many windows, than they ever did before.

Here’s the living room:

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

We bought the sofas, rug, and white bookshelves on moving in. We’d had a hand-me -down couch in dark sage green that was very comfy but didn’t go with the look we wanted, so it was time for something new. The bookshelves are my favorite, favorite thing. They almost look built in, but they’re actually three separate bookcases from Ikea. God bless the Swedes.

We’d still like to add a table lamp on the side table and perhaps a small rug in front of the bookshelves (we anticipate putting the baby swing/bouncy seat there), but otherwise this room is finished.

Similar to our old rental, we decided to make the dining room into a reading room. We don’t have a big formal dining table anyway, and we just loved the shape of this room and the light and we thought we’d really enjoy using it this way. This is our old living room rug plus a couple of our old chairs (my Ikea chair has a new gray cover — it used to be red but I love it so much more now).

Reading Room

Reading Room

Here are some details of the things on top of the shelves. CW’s plants are so beautiful.

Reading Room
Reading Room

This room has turned out to be a really nice space for either quiet reading or an afternoon drink. This room is finished for now, but I can imagine when we have toddlers toddling around, we might revise it a bit into a playroom-type space so we can keep an eye on them — it is open to both the living room and kitchen, so it would be an ideal spot for them to play while we’re cooking, or something.

The kitchen colors photographed horribly, but trust me, it’s light and pretty in person. The green wall (“Parakeet”) is one of my very favorite things:

Kitchen Kitchen

We’d like to eventually have a round wooden table for the breakfast nook, but this old rectangular glass-top is doing the job okay for now.


I love love love our new refrigerator! When the sellers put this house on the market, they’d already moved out and taken their fridge with them, so we went into the purchase knowing we’d need to get our own. It is a little stressful to choose an expensive appliance, but we’ve been really happy with this one.

The kitchen is as finished as it’s going to get for a few years (except the possible new table), but eventually we’d like to replace the laminate countertops with something else, level the island to be all at counter height, and add pendant lamps above it. That’s a very long term goal, though.

The house has three bedrooms, so we have a master, a future nursery, and the third one is doing double duty as a guest room and office for both me and CW. It’s a little crowded in there, but we’ve managed to make it work:

Guest Room Window

My Workspace

Can you guess which desk is mine and which is my husband’s? It’s probably not difficult.

C's Workspace Guest Bed

We still need to decide what artwork will be hung over the bed, so this isn’t totally finished,  but it’s good enough for now.

Our bedroom is similarly almost finished. We’d like to get a headboard for this bed and also figure out what artwork to put over it. It’ll likely be the fox painting in the right corner there.


The paint colors didn’t photograph particularly well, but the lighter walls are the previously mentioned “Olympus White” and the blue wall is “Blue Jasmine,” which looks fabulous in person. The dressers are part of a set that I bought along with the guest room bed, but that bed is a double, so we are using a non-matching queen bed in here, along with side tables that are also part of a set — they came with our coffee table. I don’t mind the mix of random furniture so much, but one day it would be nice to have a matching set in here.

I don’t have anything to show you from the nursery so far because we’ve done essentially nothing there. We have a futon there for lounging and feeding the babies (a regular glider would be too narrow to hold two babies at once, we think) and my old 4×4 Ikea Expedit shelf, which will be used for books, toys, etc. (Why did they change the name from Expedit?! I refuse to call it by the new name.) We still need cribs, dresser/changing table, lamp, and decor. All that will be figured out, ah, some time, I’m sure.

Project365: June Top Five

June was a nice month. While most of my time was spent wrapping up my summer session course, the feeling I have about June now that it’s over is predominantly one of summery leisure and freedom. I worked hard, but that’s mostly forgotten now and the rest at the end is what sticks with me.

Here are five of my favorite daily photos from the month. The rest of June can be found here and this year’s photos (so far) here.

[164/365] CW
[164/365] CW

This photo was taken during happy hour, while the subject was distracted by looking out the window at a street fair below. I had to include one of my husband this month because we celebrated both our dating anniversary and the anniversary of our engagement in June. We didn’t do anything too special to mark the occasions (a nice dinner and bottle of champagne at home), but it was lovely nonetheless, to have the occasion to think back to where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

[172/365] Cabbagetown Murals
[172/365] Cabbagetown Murals

I am working on a post about our quick weekend getaway to Atlanta, so I’ll say more about it then, but this photo is one of many I took of the murals in Cabbagetown, an old mill neighborhood in Atlanta where we visited a friend. I really like the way this wall has an older mosaic design surrounded by a newer painted mural and the way that seems to work with the history of the place and the direction the city is taking it now.

[176] Possible Hydrangea?
[176] Possible Hydrangea?

This photo was taken right outside my back door on the day I spent cleaning and puttering around the house. I think it might be a hydrangea, but I’m not sure. Just one of many examples of how strange it sometimes is to be a renter in a house for the first year. We’ve never spent a spring or early summer here before, so the plants that have been blooming for the past few months have all come as complete surprises. I need to go check on that status of this plant soon, come to think of it. If the mosquitos out there will ever quit swarming long enough.

[180/365] Pickling Project, Day 1
[180/365] Pickling Project, Day 1

I will tell y’all ALL ABOUT our picking project soon, but this colorful photo of the vegetables on the day we jarred them is definitely a favorite from the month. (Spoiler alert: they look very different now.)

[181/365] Black & Whites
[181/365] Black & Whites

Baby feet! My friend K. just gave birth to her second child a couple of weeks ago, and I spent Monday afternoon doing a little newborn/family photo shoot. (This isn’t my absolute favorite of the day, but I chose this one for my Project365 pick because it’s not anything too personal/private for me to use here.) It was lovely to see their little family all together with the new baby and the photo shoot was a success.

Project365: May Top Five

14299250523_e07ff70b06_bMay is a strange month, with one foot in the school year and the other foot in the summer. One foot in a sensible ballet flat and the other in a flip-flop. One foot with a sad, neglected pedicure and the other with a bright new polish color.

I’m sorry. I was clearly just going to keep going with that terrible metaphor. I’ll try again.

The month began with a breathless, pavement-pounding final-exam grading sprint, spent a little time with its feet up on a plastic chaise longue at the pool, and now it’s back to walking the halls for summer school.

Ennnh, nope.

As a month, May was not a girl, not yet a wom–

Oh, hell; I give up.

Here are my top five photographs from the month. The year’s daily photographs (so far) can be seen here.

[121/365] Graded.
[121/365] Graded.

This stack of graded final exams from my large lecture class represented the last task I had to complete in order to finish up the spring semester. The test went smoothly; students did fine; I got everything done and that was a wrap!

[127/365] Solo 20-miler this morning to start my day.
[127/365] Solo 20-miler this morning to start my day.

Summer leisure time means long bike rides! I took to the streets by myself for a 20-miler and felt great about it afterward.

[132/365] Favorite
[132/365] Favorite

This is one of my all-time favorite basic, healthy, satisfying meals — I realized when I made it this time that I don’t think I have a (good) photograph of it and, worse!, I don’t think I have shared the meal/recipe here. I mean. Without a good photograph and blog post, who can say I made and ate this meal at all, am I right? Well, here is the photo. Blog post coming soon. I hope.

[144/365] Profile
[144/365] Profile

Flannery’s favorite spot of late is this ottoman in the front room of our house. It gets all the morning sun, and she loves to bask in it. She is a pretty lady. As I type this, though, the cat is on my LIST. I do not even want to describe what she did in the bathtub today, nor how harrowing the cleanup process was. I’ll spare you that. You’re welcome.

[145/365] Jade
[145/365] Jade

A broken piece of CW’s favorite (15-year-old!) jade plant he is rooting in this glass. Taking this photo was sort of an afterthought at the time, but it turned out to be a good idea: when I went to edit it, I noticed that the water level was low and had the opportunity to add some more. The plant was saved by my heroic daily photo project, and I will brook no alternate narratives.

Project365: March Top Five

March seemed to fly by really quickly, and I think part of that was due to travel over spring break. By the time we were back from our trip, it felt like the month was basically over. I’ve barely even been around here this month (hopefully I’ll remedy that in April). The month was sort of mixed — a lot of grading happening at work, then travel, then some other work business and responsibilities taking over, like my annual review, meetings and other service, and plans for next fall already. Whew. That aspect of life is represented here, but I wound up focusing mostly on some of the out-of-the ordinary happenings when I picked my five favorite photos of the month.

[61/365] Mr. Eegs in his Sunbeam

[61/365] Mr. Eegs in his Sunbeam

Look, this one I just love. Egon is so damned cute when he follows the sun around the house, moving to the new warm spot when the sun starts coming in through a different window. I have a few of these photos already, but this one is particularly striking to me because of the narrow beam of light and the way he seemed to position himself in it so perfectly.

[63/365] Midterms

[63/365] Midterms

Grading. This only represents a tiny portion of the midterm grading responsibilities I have. It’s always a tough time in the semester for me — tougher than finals, for a lot of reasons. Getting through that part of the semester always feels like a real turning point. After I was done with this last pile, things were on the upswing.

[72/365] Peter

[72/365] Peter

One highlight of our trip to Tennessee this month was getting to spend so much time with my brother. CW and I stayed in his apartment and the two of them got along really well, which was lovely for me to se.

[73/365] Tennessee Theatre

[73/365] Tennessee Theatre

The Historic Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville. It’s beautiful on the inside, but I didn’t bring my DSLR in, so this is the only high-quality photo I got of it — I liked the way this turned out, with the late-afternoon light coming down the street and the sense of traffic and liveliness.

[74/365] Bob Weir and Ratdog

[74/365] Bob Weir and Ratdog

And of course I had to include a concert photo. This was taken in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville — my favorite of the two concerts we saw.

And that was March — at least in photos. I can’t believe we’re already a full week into April as I type this. Good thing I’m getting caught up. More to come soon.

Project365: February Top Five

February kind of lurched on past, didn’t it? I’m finding it hard to believe it’s already March, but damn am I glad. February is always a really rough, busy month at work (see also: October), and I suppose you can tell just by looking at the blog that I’ve been struggling to get though it all. The evidence: barely any entries this month.

Nonetheless, I did stick to my Project365 mission of taking a photo every single day. During the height of my work-related flood, I sort of lost the urge to carry my DSLR with me everywhere I went, so I wound up with more Instagram photos in th set than I’d usually like to have. Hey, man, life happens.

Here are my five favorites out of the pile of largely unexciting February photos. I feel like these show that in the midst of the mid-semester chaos, life did indeed go on, and many lovely moments were had. This is one reason I’m glad I keep up with the photo project even in the midst of everything else — otherwise, some of these moments would surely have been forgotten.

[32/365] Gin Fizzes
[32/365] Gin Fizzes

CW and I started off the month by playing around with our Savoy Cocktail Book — the one we found in that lovely bookstore in Asheville — and making gin fizzes. Fun and delicious.

[44/365] "Snow Day" in Alabama
[44/365] “Snow Day” in Alabama

The weather got weird this winter, and school canceled a total of four days (so far) for winter weather. This day’s cancellation was the most ridiculous of them all. I took this photo in my neighborhood at about 11:00 AM, I believe, and it was around 50º at the time. Not a single snowflake or crystal of ice anywhere to be seen. Get it together, Alabama!

[45/365] Cooking Dinner with my Husband
[45/365] Cooking Dinner with my Husband

This photo is from our Valentine’s Day cooking extravaganza. I love cooking with CW, and drinking wine, and snacking on bread and olives while we put dinner together. Couldn’t have asked for a lovelier time.

[52/365] AU Floor
[52/365] AU Floor

I attended my very first college gymnastics meet this month, thanks to Becky’s great idea! It was so fun, and brought back a lot of happy memories of the gymnastics phase I went through in elementary school (see also: ballet). If I’d had access to college gymnastics at that age, I would have been begging my parents to take me every chance I got. And guess what? As an adult who hasn’t done a cartwheel (let alone a handspring) in over 20 years, I still had a blast.

[57/365] Poached Eggs, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, French Bread
[57/365] Poached Eggs, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, French Bread

This is one of my favorite dinners CW makes: it’s toasted crusty French bread topped with tomatoes and mushrooms and perfect poached eggs. Side of crispy roasted potatoes. Fabulous. I don’t know how he got so lucky, but CW has a preternatural knack for the poached eggs. He tried them for the first time a while back and they were perfect then and have been consistently so since. I’d be jealous, but I don’t need to be able to make perfect poached eggs now, do I?

Project365: January Top Five

I’ve decided to do a little monthly round-up of some of my favorite photos I’ve been taking for Project365, so here is the first installment: my Top Five* photos from January. The entire set so far is here.

*”Top Five” status determined solely by my own personal preference, because I am in charge here.

[3/365] The Goldfinch

[3/365] The Goldfinch

I loved this book and I plan to do a little review of it here soon. For now, please enjoy the photo, also featuring my cozy fireplace and coffee. Pretty nice trifecta there.

[7/365] Fireside Hound

[7/365] Fireside Hound

How could I resist a cute photo of my dog, getting nice and toasty by the fire? When he does this, I like to refer to him as a “roasted weenie.”

[12/365] Spikes

[12/365] Spikes

A beautiful blue sky in my neighborhood. I just liked the shapes here.

[14/365] Um, excuse me?

[14/365] Um, excuse me?

It’s a recent development, my cat and dog interacting with each other. It’s rare to be able to photograph them together. While they certainly don’t go in for the cute, snuggly, pile-o-fur photos, I can occasionally capture the two old adversaries sharing space. I liked this one with the cat in her sunbeam and the dog, in silhouette, creepin’ up on her.

Note: here you can also observe another rare occurrence: Egon “standing” and “walking” on his back legs — they occasionally sort of move spastically and it looks like he’s walking, even though he still has no control over them and no sensation.

[20/365] Found

[20/365] Found

I crossed the street to take a photo of this fire hydrant because it stands alone on the edge of the woods, so I thought might make for a possibly interesting contrast photo — you know, like a man-made object in the middle of a wild-looking environment? But then I noticed the carefully placed rock sitting on it and wound up photographing that instead.

Project 365, Coffee

[1/365] Chemex

I’ve done Project 365 a few times now, but I took last year off for reasons I can no longer remember. I think I was just weary of taking a photo every day when so many of my daily photos had started coming from Instagram. Not that there’s anything wrong with Instagram photos, of course (I love them), but, for me, I always wanted the daily photo project to be about learning and honing my skills on the DSLR, which I had gotten too lazy to do. So I needed a break.

Now it’s a new year and, I think, a great time to start back at the daily photography. This year should be interesting for me: for the first time, I’ll be documenting a life lived with someone else. My decade+ of single living is well and truly over, and I’ve got not only a cat and a dog but also a man in the house with me. The only problem: my husband doesn’t like to have his picture taken, so he’s likely to be absent, or mostly absent, from the photographs.

I will sometimes be sharing the daily photo here on the blog, with a post based on it. They surely won’t always manage to appear on the day the photo was taken, though, so don’t expect them on time! My self-imposed rule for Project365 is that I take the photo on the specified day (after midnight is fine if I’m still awake), but I can edit and post it at my convenience. Not all photos will make it here to the blog, though. If it doesn’t seem to warrant or inspire some writing, it’ll simply live in the flickr set.

My first photo of the year is a pot of coffee my husband made in his new Chemex pot on New Year’s morning. The pot was a Christmas gift from me, and I think he likes it. These pots are great for making a really smooth, flavorful cup. They are also beautifully simple, which I thought CW would appreciate. He is generally against having too many bells and whistles on his appliances, and does not want or need “robots” making his coffee. So the Chemex is kinda perfect for him. Of course, this is also a gift I get to enjoy any time I get to drink a cup of coffee myself. Lovely how that works out, isn’t it?

A Very Very Very Fine House

Why hello, and welcome to my home. (As Brenda Dickson would say.) We are here! We have moved in! Most things are put away and functional and settled. I love it. It took us a while to get things completely unpacked, partly because until recently I was finishing teaching my summer course and couldn’t do much to help around the house. This weekend, though, we finally had a few friends stop by and even hosted a couple of folks for dinner, so we had a little extra incentive to get things done. Oh, what’s that you say? Friends coming over? I guess I’d better move my underwear collection to a location other than the couch. 

I thought I’d share a few photos from around the house for those of you who get a thrill looking into other people’s homes (and really, who among us doesn’t?). Don’t worry, no one’s underwear collection is featured. Unless that’s what you came here looking for, in which case, sorry to disappoint you, ya weirdo.

As you might predict, get two English faculty types together and you’re going to have a lot of books. We’ve got them in every room. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. How many books do we have? If this tells you anything, we even decided to make what’s supposed to be a dining room into a reading atrium. A room for books and the reading of books. Oh yeah. Our front room, with it’s high ceilings, tons of natural light, and pretty arches, is now one of my favorite spaces. A futon, a comfy chair, a shelf of my favorite books, and a beautiful collection of succulents. Who needs a formal dining room?


Soilless Growth

Arches.Shelf of Favorites

Reading Chair

Buddha, etc.

In the living area, we’ve got books over here…

Books and Chair and Guitar

Books over there…


And, in what was kind of a serendipitous little joke that seems to have stuck, we even have a whole shelf for just John Irving.

Devil's Tongue by the Window

The living room is big enough to fit our sofa/TV area plus a dining table, so we’ve just made it into a living/dining combination space. We tried several different arrangements, trying in particular to find a good spot for the couch, but in the end we wound up putting it back in almost the exact same spot it landed when we unloaded the truck. Oh well! When the weather gets cold (for approximately three weeks in January) and we want to use the fireplace, we may adjust it a bit.

Couch, Dining Area


Ukulele.The Square Shelf


We have tons of space to be cozy and read or watch movies in here, and I feel like over all, it’s just this great wealth of space: do I want to read in the reading atrium, or the living room? Or my workspace in the guest room?

Oh, right, we have a guest room, too. (ATTENTION: GUESTS! It is a lovely guest room! Please come stay in it!) I tried snapping some photos in there, but the light was too dim by that time, so I’ll have to share that later. Also not pictured: the bedroom, CW’s office, and the kitchen. Those rooms all shaped up very nicely, too, so maybe I’ll do a second installment of this house tour soon, if you’d like to see more.

In the meanwhile, I am busy enjoying the new space and relaxing. This weekend was the first opportunity I’ve had since my summer class started to spend a weekend here in town, not traveling, not moving, and not packing or unpacking. It was downright delightful! School will be starting before we know it, and this week we are heading out of town on a short getaway to visit some of CW’s college BFFs/teammates for a few days. We leave in the morning, and I fully intend to spend every minute of the trip as relaxed as possible. When we get back, school prep mode officially begins. I’ll steel myself and see you then!


So, this little project is what I was doing in secret this November — a Christmas present for my boyfriend. I learned to bind my own books by taking a class in the art department one summer in graduate school. Because the class was taught by a sort of cerebral, conceptual artist, we focused not only on the technique of assembling a book, but also on designing and building a book that could be an art object in itself.

This requires many tools and quality materials.

Tool Box

You have to work carefully with the paper, finding the direction of the warp and woof and folding and tearing each giant sheet into a signature of pages. I used eight sheets of 100% cotton paper and tore and folded each one, by hand, into a 16-page signature.


I bored holes into the signature folds with an awl at measured intervals. These would then be sewn together.

Waxing the Thread

Thread coated with beeswax is sturdier and easier to work with; it won’t tangle, twist, or unravel.


Linen tape helps support the spine while the stitches connect each of the signatures. A single thread binds all eight signatures (128 pages) together.

Pressing the Bound Signatures

Once it’s sewn, I let the book take a little vacation underneath a bunch of other, heavier books.

Sewn Spine

The sewn spine is one of the prettiest parts of a hand-bound book — just imagine it lurking, hidden, underneath the hard case and layers of further reinforcements. The spine of the book is actually held together with: thread, linen tapes, a layer of very strong Japanese mulberry paper, and a layer of muslin.

Spine Reinforcements

I snuck a bookmark ribbon in there between the mulberry and muslin.

Muslin and Bookmark Ribbon

Making the case comes next, and it can be one of the most stressful parts of bookbinding. The measurements must be exact — I had to throw away the first case I made due to a faulty measure of just 1/8 inch. The second case was perfect.

Cutting the Boards for the Case

It consists of two boards, a paper reinforcement for the spine (it should be flexible), and some linen.

Case Building

Binding the book to the case is called “casing in,” and it can be quite tricky as well. This is the step where you add the fabulous marbled endpapers you’ll see below, but I forgot to photograph that step. Honestly, I was too busy being nervously meticulous to pick up the camera.

Once you case in, the book takes another little vacation under a heavy stack of tomes (or bricks, if you have them) while the glue dries.

Pressing the Case and Book Block

The exposed edges of the paper will have a beautiful torn deckle like this (remember that every 16 pages was once just one large cotton sheet, folded and torn by hand).

Beautiful Deckle

Here are the endpapers. Imagine my great pride to see that they lined up precisely, 1/8 inch away from the edge of the linen case, all the way around. Perfectly flat and free from bubbles or wrinkles. I breathed the biggest sigh of relief!


If the spine is strong and tight, but not too tight, the book will lie open with lovely curves just like so, somewhat evocative of the human form, I think.


And that’s how I made a book.

2012 in Photos

This year, I once again did Project366, in which I took (at least) one photograph per day all year long. This is something I’ve now been doing for three years — here are the photos from 2010 and 2011. What a strange and wonderful thing, to record life this way. If I wonder what I was ding on any given day from January 1, 2010 through today, I can find out. The entire 2012 set here, or will be, once I add the last couple of images.

This year, I relied more on my phone than I ever have before, which is why so many of these are Instagram images. I am rethinking if/how I’ll participate in a daily photo challenge for 2013. On one hand, the best camera is the one you have with you, and I’m less inclined lately to carry my Nikon everywhere with me. On the other hand, you can’t argue with the fact that the Nikon’s pictures are about forty-seven times nicer than the iPhone’s. Hmmm. At any rate, here are twelve photos from the project, one per month. I chose one that either was representative of that month as I remember it, or just a pretty favorite.

[7/366] Eggs in a Basket
January – Eggs in a basket. Eating eggs was new for me this year.

[45/366] Red Velvet Cake Poppers
February – Red velvet cake truffles I made for a jerk on Valentine’s Day.

[71/366] Cycling
March – Cycling with my friends around Sanibel Island, Florida. Also, this
was the day I made a big, tough, good decision.

[112/366] Hurray for the Riffraff
April – Hurray for the Riffraff, a fun new band I saw at the Old 280
Boogie in Waverly, Alabama. It’s one of my favorite annual events here.

[151/366] Famous Egons (Censored)
May – Famous Egons. The team at the animal hospital gave Egon these pictures of famous Egons for his crate while he was recovering from surgery.

[155/366] BW Velos
June – Cycling with CW and the beginning of something great.

[192/366] Encore
July – Furthur in Alpharetta, Georgia. We had a wonderful time at the

[236/366] Just snacking on some grass on a sunny afternoon.
August – Egon chomping on some grass outside. He was back to his normal,
fabulous self. Plus wheels, of course.

[273/366] From the trail 5K
September – My acorn award for winning second in my age group at a trail 5K. My first ever age group placing and the first race back after months of PT.

[293/366] The Lumineers
October – The Lumineers in Atlanta. Another fun trip for CW and me.

[322/366] Wood Sculpture
November – Pretty leaves and a sculpture in downtown Chattanooga. A great
trip in a lot of ways.

[357/366] Buildings B&W
December – The farm in Iowa.