Archive for the ‘Beliefs and Best Guesses’ Category

I couldn’t have been happier to read this post today: Things I am Afraid to Tell You over at one of my favorite bogs, coco+kelley. I feel like it might turn into the next It Gets Better with everyone airing out their dirty laundry all over the internet. It’s one of my pet peeves about blogs— particularly with female bloggers—and it’s something I’ve been wary of here: showing only the clean, happy, pretty with none of the ugly, tormented failure.

You might remember this older post of mine where I vented and ranted profusely about social media, blogs and the ways in which we have carelessly manipulated them into an anxiety-ridden game of telephone on the internet. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.  coco+kelley is listing several bloggers who are taking part. I hope to add my name to the list.


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It’s been about two weeks since my dad and I took a trip to Niagara Falls, his hometown, and Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, my paternal grandparents’ hometown. The experience is difficult to put into words. As a young person who didn’t know her grandparents terribly well, I’m overwhelmed with a tremendous amount of pride and sentiment when visiting these places that were so important to them and to my father, though I’ve hardly spent much time in either town. It reminds me that where we are is one of the biggest factors in determining who we are.

Shufran house, paternal grandmother's childhood home, Philipsburg, PA

Great-Uncle Al's Garage

Walking through Belden Center, my dad's childhood neighborhood, with Rich Vicki

Rich Vicki, my dad's oldest friend


The first house my dad ever lived in. There would have been 9 people living in this house when he was born in 1948.

3011 Savannah Street- my dad's childhood home

Downtown Niagara Falls- Slipko's and Jenss- both now closed

DiCamillo in Downtown Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is like many cities in the north east that used to be industrial hubs. There is a lot of rot, decay, and ugly reminders of what used to be. I wish I had captured more of those images while we were there. The slow erosion that these towns have endured, I believe, is on-par with the after-math of many natural disasters. I know that these towns will eventually make a recovery but I don’t know who will lead the recoveries or how long they will take. I hope to keep going back so I can keep learning about the rich histories of these towns and to be a part of the recovery solution.

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I go on a walk just about every morning that I can sneak it in. Routine can be a beautiful thing. Routine is part of what makes it so exciting to see dogwoods blooming after looking at those bare, gray branches for days on end in the winter.

But knowing that my brother has just embarked on a month-long trip to Europe also has me questioning the limitations of routine. The stability and comfort that come from years and years of dwelling in the same place, treading the same paths day-after-day, can easily be rivaled in our hearts and memories with one startling sunrise in a foreign city; one flash of a memory that forever changes how we think and feel.

I share my love of Charlottesville often on this blog. But, we also all need to get out every once in a while. Shake things up.

Speaking of shaking things up, I’ve make a commitment to play, as consistently as possible, at The Local— on Monday nights they have a singer-songwriter night. If you’re ever interested in coming out to see me (and other amazingly talented Cville ssw’s) play, just shoot me an e-mail and I’ll let you know if I plan to be there that particular Monday.

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Remember this post about how I was going to make sure all my Christmas presents were USA-made this year? Let’s just say I started out strong and then, when I realized I only had 3 shopping days left, completely panicked and just started buying anything I could find that I thought the person would mildly like. That’s part of the fun, right?

Nevertheless, I thought I’d share some of my finds and my grand tally. Out of THIRTEEN gifts that Ryan and I purchased, EIGHT were Made in the USA and FOUR were purchased from locally-owned businesses. We also purchased FOUR additional gifts that were experiences or services, like tickets to a basketball game (for our dads) or getting Ryan’s car detailed for him. While these don’t exactly fit in with the “Made” in the USA theme, they certainly promote our local economy.

I purchased a good number of things from Etsy this year, like this adorable bracelet by junghwa that I picked out for my cousin Rachel. And while the artist isn’t local (she’s based out of Washington state), I love the idea that I’m supporting a small-business and hopefully giving someone the chance to make a living doing something she loves. And, how cute is the bracelet? I mean, c’mon!

That was easy, though. How about trying find something Made in the USA at Bed Bath & Beyond? My mom suggested I might get my dad some K-cups as a stocking stuffer because she was getting him a Keurig. And, she also recommended that Bed Bath and Beyond had a good selection of flavors. I approached the wall, literally wall, of options and started turning over boxes… Made in Canada, Made in China, etc.

Before long, though, I was able to find a few good options of K-cups that were Made in the USA, like Green Mountain Coffee’s Breakfast Blend. I have to say, I was most encouraged by this find. It gives me a little hope that shopping at big-box stores (that seem to value out-pricing their competitors more than anything else) and buying USA-made are not completely incompatible. Like I admitted in the first paragraph, I am definitely one of those people that, at times, panics and just throws anything into my cart, but if you take a little time on one trip to find a brand you like that’s Made in the USA, hopefully that can be the brand you blindly throw into your cart in your next shopping frenzy.

For the record, the only two gifts that I was able to buy both locally from a small-business and USA-made were a silver bracelet, that I bought and had engraved for our god-daughter Lacey, and a picture frame I had engraved for Ryan. Both were purchased from The Engraving Shop in Charlottesville.

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Thanks to everyone who received my recording so warmly and shared it with others. You have really given me (even more) confidence to continue recording and sharing my songs!

Even though I like to share many parts of my life on this blog, sharing my music was the main reason I started it 100 posts ago. Yep, wordpress let’s you know when you’ve hit 100 posts and this is it baby! In honor of my 100th post, I thought I’d remind people, for those who may have missed it, why I started this blog in the first place, which I wrote about in my very first post.

Have a great weekend everybody!

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My holiday downtime is minutes away from ending, but it’s been great, and I’m feeling ready to get back into a productive rhythm. In the spirit of saying goodbye to downtime and jumping into ambition, here are some of my favorite last leisure moments of 2011.

Me, Rach and Amy on Christmas Eve.

Mom, Dad and Ryan before heading off to Christmas No.2 in Arlington.

Peggy, Cam, Lacey and “Buttercup” (the singing and dancing dog).

Downtown Atlanta on New Year’s Eve.

Feeling like a little kid at the Georgia Aquarium.

From darkness to light. At the High Museum for “From Picasso to Warhol.”

Navigating Atlanta by myself- check!

The beginning of the year can be overwhelming; loading ourselves up with goals and ambitions. As far as this blog is concerned, my main resolution is to share more about what I’m doing with music. Something I vowed to do more back in July but that I haven’t really made good on. Stay tuned… I hope to remedy that very soon.

I wish everyone strength, courage, happiness, peace and patience in the new year.

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I’m keeping it simple this week. I just wanted to list some of the things I’m grateful for this year.

– friends, old and new

– our house and the happiness it brings us

– my job that both makes me happy and also challenges me

– my parents, for instilling confidence and direction in me at an early age; even now when I get lost, I always manage to find myself again

– Ryan and the fact that we’re still having fun and we’re not sick of each other yet, and he did all the laundry and cleaning this weekend!

– mornings like today, with a big mug of tea and cream and a pen and paper

– this town we live in and the kind, funny, intelligent people that fill it and the small role we’re able to play in it

– a kind person that went out of her way to help me last week and the faith and trust she showed me

– the time we’re going to spend later this week with Ryan’s parents, his brother and sister-in-law, and our niece and nephew

– and, let’s be honest— I’m grateful that this week is a TWO DAY WORK WEEK!

Happy Thanksgiving.

PS- For those wondering, the holiday shopping is off to a good start. It definitely requires a little more planning, but so far I’ve been able to stick to my local and/ or USA-made criteria. Two gifts down… so many to go!


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