A week in Oregon

January 21st, 2014 1 comment

I have been MIA the last week due to taking a quick and quiet trip to Oregon.

Portland, OR

Hello PDX!

 It was a long over-due trip to see my husband’s family. We don’t get to Oregon near enough, and I’ll be the first to admit that. Flights, though, are expensive cross-country, but we happened to luck out with cheap flights on Southwest Airlines. In fact, they were cheap enough that I was able to purchase MY round trip using nothing but rewards points. (Score!) So that freed up money for the rental car, and a couple nights hotel stays (one on each end of our week at my father-in-law’s house).


I looked out at this every morning with a cup of coffee…

When we go to Oregon, we are gloriously in the land of no-cell-service. Unless you sit close to a window. And even then its iffy. So basically, going to Oregon = getting off the grid.

But who really wants to even be on the grid with views like this:

Manzanita, Oregon

Sunset outside Nehalem, Oregon.

And a cousin that makes pizzas in his own fire pizza oven…


You can’t beat homemade pizza our of a fire oven.

Oh and I can’t forget to mention we’re only five minutes from the beach…

Manzanita, Oregon

I love the beach! We were SO LUCKY with not only sunny days, but warm-ish days!

We got engaged on that beach, the first time I got to see the ocean. (The Gulf of Mexico soooo doesn’t count.) We reminisce about that every time we visit. And I find myself more and more an ocean lover. I think if I could, I’d spend hours on end on the beach just watching the waves crash, listening to their soothing rumble, breathing in the salty sea air.

Manzanita, Oregon

Beach Love

Yes, I’m kinda in love with the ocean and the beach.

Manzanita, Oregon

Watching the sun set over the ocean makes you feel so small… like all your “troubles” are pretty minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

And cheese. Tillamook Cheese to be exact. This lactose intolerant girl can’t get enough of it.

Tillamook Cheese Factory

Tillamook Cheese Factory

I mean look at that gooey, cheesy goodness!

Tillamook Cheese Factory

Seriously. Grilled Cheese made at a cheese factory with bacon and tomato?! Get out of town!! That’s heaven in a basket right there!

We drove by the Tillamook Air Museum long after they’d closed. Drove right up to it.

Tillamook Air Museum

The Air Museum is kinda HUGE.

I half expected armed guard to come up to us and ask us what we were doing. Somehow, our little black Camaro went unnoticed that night. Heck, it felt kind of like we could have driven INSIDE it that night…

Tillamook Air Museum

From Wikipedia: The museum is housed in a former military blimp hangar, called “Hangar B”, which is the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world. [...] Constructed by the US Navy in 1942 during World War II for Naval Air Station Tillamook, the hangar building housing the aircraft is 1,072 feet long and 296 feet wide, giving it over 6 acres of area. It stands at 192 feet tall.

Upon return to Portland for our early morning flight, I asked for a nice date night. My sister-in-law took us to McMenamin’s Kennedy School the year we got engaged, and we saw the movie Jarhead in the theater. This trip, we grabbed dinner… And now, I kinda want to stay in the hotel portion in an upcoming trip.

McMenamin's Kennedy School

I had their beer, “Ruby” and it was kinda amazing.

Our week-long trip just went too fast, and we were (as always) left with things we wished to do. But we both vowed it would not be as long before we visited again. This Texas girl, who lives in Tennessee, definitely loves Oregon.


CLICK HERE to see ALL my photos from our Oregon Trip, which I think are some of my favorite shots in general to date.  More posts from our trip to come this week…

The day I changed my mind

January 15th, 2014 No comments

I don’t talk that much about my degree in Journalism. It’s not that I’m not super proud of having it, because I am! It’s just that it doesn’t come up much.

I did, however, spend a year and a half at a small-town, weekly newspaper after graduation. I was using my degree! Even more fun, it was a sister newspaper to the one my best friend from high school was working at as well. I quickly found being the local news reporter made me something of a local celebrity, and I found myself in the most fascinating places meeting interesting people. I even got to cover a movie being filmed in the town! (Hollywood types don’t like cameras near movie sets.) I enjoyed the job at heart, but there was only one major issue…

We were a staff of three women. That was it. Or bookkeeper/receptionist, the publisher/editor and me, the staff writer/pretty much anything else.

Can we say a fast trip to burnout? At first I loved it, because I got experience in everything. I was writing, reporting, photography, editing, etc. But later, it just dragged me down… I couldn’t really hone my skills in a specific direction. I felt mediocre in all things. I started to be less enthusiastic about work…

…of course the fact I was dating a guy I was pretty sure I’d marry and move to Nashville to be with didn’t help…

But the breaking point really came after Thanksgiving the year I hung up my journo hat. Around 4:00 one afternoon, report of a bad accident came across the police scanner. It happened to be on my way home, so my boss told me to go see what happened then just go home after. I could do the article the next day.

I drove out with a sick feeling. I pulled up to the scene to see a badly mangled car… Christmas gifts in the back window. I could hear a child crying and screaming from the car. I froze. I was sick about myself. I’m there to take pictures of this family’s tragedy! I’m there to be nosy. I felt like such a vulture! This wasn’t like the 18 wheeler that high-centered in the Wal-Mart parking lot. This wasn’t like covering the sentencing of a criminal in court. This was a family in pain at Christmas. These were KIDS. I wanted to help, not… Take PICTURES.

I called my then-boyfriend having a total meltdown. I was in tears, just sick over it.

“I can’t do this!” I cried. “I want to help, not be a vulture!”

Life flight was brought in and someone loaded up from the car… While I just stood there. I felt like the worst person ever. It was my job, yes. It was a job I loved and was excited to have and study. I hang my degree proudly still. I learned a lot working at that newspaper, and my degree plan offered so many electives I was able to really branch out what I studied but in that moment… in that moment I wanted to be compassionate and help.

I turned in my two week notice a week or two later. I still think about doing some freelance work. And I might in the future. I love to write and I am still a total newshound. But being a stoic reporter? That’s not me. And I long ago realized that is okay.

Days at home

January 11th, 2014 No comments

I happen to be someone who loves staying at home. Despite being far more extroverted than I used to be, I’m still deep down a homebody. That being said, I absolutely LOVED spending most of the last week and a half at home.

Earlier this week, we had a major cold snap thanks to that polar vortex thing they talked about on the news. I mean, when we took our 7th wedding anniversary photo, the windchill was -5°!


(Yeah, we should have been bundled up… but we were taking a picture, so we ran out for about 1 minute tops to take that shot.)

During the cold snap, we literally didn’t leave our house for three days straight. We stepped outside for a little while, but we didn’t go anywhere. And I loved it.

I tried to be somewhat productive. But mostly I just enjoyed hiding away and resting up from the past year’s go-go-go-go-go. But as we draw to an end of this stay-at-home time, I feel my want to be productive coming back. Yesterday, I got so much done, it made me go, “Man, if I’d been this motivated all week, this house would be perfectly organized and I’d be ready to file my tax return!”

But maybe part of feeling so productive was taking time to rest my  mind and body for awhile. Yesterday, I participated in the Friday Five questions about sleep. The negative effects of sleep deprivation are well documented, but we still push ourselves to our limits. So, taking a few days to do a little less and give myself some TLC? I’m not going to feel guilty about it. Lord knows I’ll be crying out for it to be a possibility again soon.

Five on Friday: Sleep thoughts

January 10th, 2014 No comments

One of my New Years Goals was to journal daily, and I’ve successfully been doing that! I use the LiveJournal platform where I actually have a permanent account. Back in the early 2000s, I jumped on an offer for a permanent account, and I’ve NEVER regretted that purchase.

As part of going back to journaling, I’ve been reintroduced to some groups on there that I’ve missed. One of which is the Friday Five.  I thought for giggles, I’d play along this week right here on Musician’s Widow…

1. How many hours of sleep do you like to get in a night?

I always prefer to get 8 hours when possible. I’ve lately been getting between 6 or 7. In college I could function days on end with only 4 hours of sleep a night. Today? I can do that maybe one night and then that’s it. I need to catch up.

2. How many hours of sleep can you survive on indefinitely?

Five or six. I guess.

3. Do you enjoy napping?


4. The average amount of time it takes a person to fall asleep is seven minutes–do you tend to need more or less time than that?

More time for sure. I have to be absolutely 100% exhausted to fall asleep fast.
5. If you were offered a pill that would enable you to sleep only two hours out of every twenty-four and remain fully functional, but you could never sleep more than that, would you take it?

I would heavily consider it, but I am sure I’d turn it down. Sleep is a time to rejuvenate and reset. Sleep is a time to calm yourself. I think only two hours of sleep would not be enough to do that properly.



Seven years ago, it was sunny and 70°

January 6th, 2014 4 comments

Today’s big topic is how crazy cold it is… as I type this, the wind chill is -5° (with an actual temp of around 11°). I know to anyone in the northern states, this is nothing. But to a Nashvillian (and expecially a born and raised Texan!) its ridiculous. Silly. Stupid.

But it doesn’t keep me from smiling and remembering that seven years ago, it was 70° in Texas, and I got to marry my best friend.

Photo by AJW Photo

I made a new years goal this year to journal daily (or as close as possible), and as a bonus I’ve gone back to read old posts. Today, I dig out my journal entry about my wedding…

I had scheduled myself and the girls hair appointments at 9 AM, and the place was half an hour away. … It took an hour and a half to do my hair. My usually straight (and fine!) hair was put into ringlets, with the front pulled smooth in a side part with my tiara and veil placed at the edge of the smooth area before it went into curls. I loved it! I was nervous it would fall, but actually it held in curls for over two days. LOL God bless hair stylists!!

We grabbed hamburgers at McDonalds on our way to the church, and the drive-thru lady actually asked me when I was getting marred, to which I replied, “In about four hours!” ;) I felt like a McDonald’s commercial in my veil eating a Homestyle Burger.

Photo by AJW Photo

We had the BEST bridal party, ever. This is HUGE in things going well. I was blessed with bridesmaids who were SO HELPFUL, because once you get that dress on you (heck when you just get the veil on!) are seriously rendered rather… helpless. You need people to help you.

Time passed… really rather quickly. I think a lot of people were surprised by how calm I was through it all. It wasn’t until my maid of honor went down the aisle did I just get SO GIDDY. I almost got teary when I looked at my Daddy beside me and realized it was all HERE. My Dad gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “No tears.” I replied, “No promises.”

Photo by AJW Photo

It went SO smoothly, and seemed to fly by! I honestly can’t wait to see the video of it to remember all the details. I know one of the groomsmen said he almost started tearing up himself! And we were paid such great compliments like, “That was the most beautiful ceremony I’ve ever been to.”

Our priest was so awesome. I didn’t start giggling, and I put the ring on the correct finger. (The night before I got his hands backwards.) Our readers were fantastic. Everything flowed so smoothly. Before I knew it, we were being introduced as husband and wife! And amazingly it started to lightly drizzle rain down; we feel it was Craig’s mom shedding tears of joy. :)

Photo by AJW Photo

Once we came into the reception, we decided to cut cake right away. And, no, we did not smash it into each other’s faces. We had the peanut gallery egging us on (haha) but we had agreed not to, and we stuck to our word. Many of our guests thanked us for that — as did our photographers.

Photo by AJW

We then did the bouquet toss and garter toss, followed by first dance, father-daughter dance, and money dance. I was out on the floor for about eight songs straight, and by the last one (in which my niece grabbed me to dance) I was motioning for Craig to come take her to dance so I could get something to drink! I was exhausted — but happy. I was a little bummed a lot of people left early, but it was fine. We still had a ton of fun.

Photo by AJW

Before I knew it, it was time to leave! We had purchased confetti poppers to use instead of bird seed or bubbles or bells. I danced one last time with my Dad, and then we headed out. Mom had made me a cape to wear over my dress since it was chilly and my dress was strapless. I put on my cape, hugged my parents, and then we dared the confetti. I made sure to double back to hug my brother before we climbed into my maid of honor’s new Explorer.

Photo by AJW

I pulled a fast one on everyone. I set it up with my MOH to leave in HER car, and kept out truck hidden. Our wedding present to ourselves was to get a next truck, and I refused to have it painted up or anything. So we hid my truck, and left with her — keeping them all in the dark on it all. Only my MOH and her boyfriend knew where the truck was. I LOVED that and it worked so great.

We went to a little cabin that my Dad’s cousin has as a Bed & Breakfast. They gave it to us for the night for free! It was in the middle of no where. So adorable; so private. We ended up sitting for three hours on the couch talking — filling each other in on all we each missed the last day.

I am SO HAPPY right now! I am almost overwhelmed in how happy I am. The funny thing Craig and I both agreed — we don’t feel any different. We’re more relaxed having it all behind us now, but we’re mostly just insanely happy. I am amazed by how well it all went. It was SO SMOOTH. And I attribute that to having such great people around us that we could depend on to help us at all times.

Photo by AJW

Its fun to go back and remember, seven years later. The last two days I’ve been going, “This time seven years ago we were having our joint bachelor/bachelorette party!” and then, “You were getting your tux right now, seven years ago.” Then, “Where did I go at this time back then? I can’t remember now! Darn it!”

Even if some of the details are lost now, the fact that I am so thankful for that day… and thankful we’re stronger today than we were then. We are still blessed with amazing people around us. New friends. Old friend. Our parents and siblings are so supportive. We’re a team, but we have a great support staff helping us along the way.

THANK YOU to all of you… and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my husband. I LOVE YOU and am so very thankful for you every single day. Here’s the seven years, and many, many, many more.

All photos by AJW Photo. I can’t recommend them enough to this day. 

2014 Goals

January 1st, 2014 3 comments

Our 11th midnight rung in together. So thankful!!

I generally don’t make “New Years Resolutions.” EVERY day is a chance to make a fresh start, is my thought.

(See what were my 2013 goals… of which I really only successfully did two. Oops?)

However, this season I’ve been running and running and running, with this day as my prize. The day I get to just STOP for awhile. The day I get to reset. Our Christmas gifts are literally still in the boxes they traveled in from Texas. I barely just unpacked my suitcase, stacking the clothes on the bench at the foot of the bed, figuring I’ll just work my way through wearing them versus putting them away. I ache all over from five nights straight behind the bar — culminating in New Years Eve and an 11-hour night. (No really, we got there at 6 pm, and we finally left after 5 am.) I’m TIRED.

But I’m also rejuvenated in a way. All day yesterday, I was actually a little sad to see 2013 go… it was a good year to me. I don’t know if that was mostly due to attitude, lack of any huge tragedies, or I was just too busy to notice anything negative. Whatever the reason, I liked 2013. But at the stroke of midnight, as I hugged and kissed my husband and “Auld Lang Syne” played — I fought back tears. Tears of thanks for a great 2013. Tears of hope for 2014.

My 2014 Goals:

1. Get my passport. I’ve had this on my unwritten life to-do list for the last seven years. I have this crazy fear that something could happen to my husband while in Canada, and I would not be able to get to him due to my lack of having a passport. Its one of those things I think all Road Widows should probably have for such a case. I pray I never need it for emergency sake, instead have it for fun things like vacations overseas. But I still think I should have one.

2. Write a letter every month of the year. This is something one of my best friends and I have challenged each other to do this year. The written letter is a dying art, and that makes me so very sad to say. So my goal for 2014 is to write a letter or send a greeting card to SOMEONE every single month of 2014. Bonus points if I can somehow send to a different person each month, but we will see. I suspect Mrs. Baker will be the only recipient of more than one.

3. Buy a house. This was on last year’s goals list, but didn’t happen. Partly due to just not getting our stuff together; partly due to just being too busy. But I really want to see this happen this next year. I love my home, and our landlords are amazing and dear friends. And our neighbors absolutely rock. And I’m pretty addicted to being 15 minutes from downtown. But I want a house that’s MINE. That I can paint and remodel if I want to… and I’d like a little more elbow room. And a second bathroom. That’s not too much to ask, I don’t think.

4. Get back to what I weighed at my wedding. Or as close as possible. Especially after this Christmas season, I’m itching to get in better shape. I’m blessed with my height, so extra pounds don’t seem to show as much as I think they do. (Or so friends tell me.) But I’ve exceeded my personal threshold this last month, and that frustrates me a little. Oh, I enjoyed all the delicious, amazing foods of Christmas. But I also went into the season with a few more pounds than I liked to begin with… this shouldn’t be THAT difficult of a challenge, really. Mostly I just need to eat smarter and healthier and I should be good to go.

5. Journal. I used to keep a daily journal. Then Facebook, Twitter and marriage happened. And I no longer had time nor felt the need to journal as I had. But I miss being able to look back on any given day and see what I did or how I felt. I might not have time to journal EVERY day, but I am going to make that my goal. (But I am not going to beat myself up if I miss a day here and there.)

6. Photography. Well, I still need to get my website up, so that’s a given goal. I also need to finish the photography class/certification that I signed up for last year. I am SO VERY THANKFUL for all the new photography gear I got for Christmas. Can’t wait to break it all out and tinker with it. It’s all going to open up my photographing abilities dramatically. Exciting times ahead for my photography work.

7. Game nights. We had a recurring “Margarita Monday” through 2013. We recently talked about having game nights periodically with friends. I’d love to see that happen here and there. Just get together and play cards, or board games, or (when its warmer) cornhole or horseshoes. Maybe have a bowling night sometime.

8. Bookkeeping. This past year has been my worst in terms of bookkeeping. And I’m the daughter of people who own their own business doing bookkeeping and income tax preparation! Epic FAIL! Goal for 2014 is to keep up with the finances a LOT better.

9. Second vehicle. My husband and I are right on that edge of being desperate for a second vehicle. At the end of 2013, we both had to REALLY give a lot to juggle having one truck. I know that in this next year, it’ll become a necessity that we get that second set of wheels.

10. More positive people around me. I can say with complete certainty that I somehow surrounded myself with many positive and successful people in 2013. Ironically, in many situations, they came to ME versus the other way around. That baffled me, but I also grasped that fact with both hands and held on tight. I think those people — most specifically the NASCL and CASA — are a huge part of why I loved the last year so much. They were evidence of how surrounding yourself with positive people gives positive results. I want more of that. I looked around at one point last night, and my heart was so full of all the people I saw that I can sincerely say have a place in my heart. Even if my bank account were to hit zero, I’d still feel myself a rich woman.

 Happy 2014!

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