Beautiful Salads and Commitment to Relaxation


It’s hard to complain at all when someone else is cooking dinner.  Especially when it’s an incredible salad, considering how bad I am at keeping a large amount of produce fresh all at the same time so I can actually make one of my own.

And then when it’s presented to me looking like this?  Seriously.  One spoiled girl.


I love tulips.  I find them to have a lot more personality than other flowers.  And when they open up to say hello?  Even better.

Only downside is that when they start blooming they also start drooping.  Which means they’re not going to last a whole lot longer 😦


Could I have been laughing any harder when I saw this on the way home from the Tobacco Trail the other day?  On the way to start our bike ride we passed him standing up and commented that he looked about 12 years old.  On the way home, he had clearly had enough of walking around holding the Great Clips sign.  So he decided to just lay down on the sidewalk and prop it up.

Hesitate to give him above a 5, because I’m pretty sure his boss would not be pleased with this, but I hesitate to give him below a 5 since cars can still see the sign.  So normally this would be a 5, but the laugh it gave me and my parents is worth at least 2.



Who doesn’t love a cuddle buddy when knocking out a little work?  This girl definitely does.  Especially if it’s a juggle whose name rhymes with Smurph.

That said, the actual ‘help’ he provided was minimal.  For such a smart dog, he doesn’t often put it to work outside of sneaking into cabinets and trash cans to overdose on food…

Plus the more deeply he fell asleep, the more weight he put onto my arm making it trickier to edit.  I also had to stop every 5 minutes to gush at how cute he was as he snored…

So in terms of productivity, it was no good.  In terms of a smiling heart, it was great 🙂

Coming up next is a full review of Full Steam, an awesome brewery in downtown Durham I’ve recently fallen in love with 🙂  Until then, just living for the tens!


Conehead & Bathroom Etiquette


You’d think it would take more than two days back to begin blogging about the pup’s bowel movements.  No sir.  Not here on Rate Your World.  Just keepin’ it real friends.

In his old age, Dakota is definitely having trouble controlling his poop.  Some days he won’t poop for over 24 hours, others he can’t help but poop inside (at least I choose to believe he can’t help it, since he’s usually the best behaved dog ever).

On this morning’s walk we hit a new low.  As we walked outside this morning, I spotted a neighbor dog heading our way.  Considering how much Dakota still hates other dogs, we immediately turned the other direction.  We then walked down the long hall outside my apartment, and apparently he just couldn’t hold it.  He started pooping as I dragged him down the hallway to escape the other dog.  As soon as we made it to the other side I waited for the other dog to go inside, returned to pick up his poop, just to find him peeing all over the walkway.  Couldn’t wait 30 seconds until we hit the grass.  That or he wanted to make it very clear to all the other dogs in the apartment complex that this hallway is HIS.

Geez oh pete.  It was quite the morning walk.  The good news?  He didn’t poop on anyone’s porch, their belongings, or inside my apartment.  He definitely earns +2 for that.


I have no idea what instigates it, but every once in a while something happens to one of Murph’s paws, and he just can’t leave it alone.  He licks and licks and licks until the pad on his foot has come off, he bleeds all over my apartment, and is forced to limp around on 3 legs.  The only solution?  Bringing out the trusty conehead.

Boy does it make my heart hurt and laugh at the same time.  And sadly it often lasts for 1-2 weeks before he finally gives up on trying to tear it off long enough to let the paw heal.  It’s gonna be a looooong 2 weeks if he keeps this up.

Below 5 because of how much I pity the little guy, but definitely +1 for entertainment value.  Especially when it snows out and it becomes his own little shovel.


I really believe the musical soundtrack of any video, but especially a wedding video, makes it or breaks it.  Just try watching any of these videos without sound and you’ll see exactly what I mean.  And because of my love of music, I actually LOVE this part of the editing process.  However, the more videos I edit, the more I realize I need to widen my collection of both artists and songs that can be used.  Eventually I’m going to run out, AND the more I have the easier it will be to find the perfect song for each couple/video.  Feel free to pass along any suggestions of artists OR songs in the comments.

In the meantime, one of my most recent videos which I think has the perfect song match 🙂

Franklin Street & Never Ending Climbs

Let’s be honest.  It’s hard not to let our personal lives affect our professional lives.  These past couple weeks have been a great reminder of that, and have done a lot for my sympathy in understanding what both colleagues and students bring in to school with them every day.  Even harder is not being able to acknowledge the reality of a personal life while at work.

So you can imagine my surprise and appreciation when a colleague left a nice note on my desk this morning and a container of vegan ice cream in the staff room freezer waiting for me.


Seriously.  I always see it at Food Lion and Trader Joes, but always resist the urge to buy it.  Today, the choice wasn’t mine.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!  I made the smart move of leaving it at school, having enough self awareness to know what would happen to it if I brought it home.  A couple spoonfuls here and there might be the best solution ever to a long week 🙂


I always forget how much the Smurph dog hates the NC summers until the warm weather really starts to hit.  While in the Spring, Winter or Fall he’s dying for a longer walk, as soon as the heat kicks in he’s begging to head back home.  Literally.  He puts on the brakes and refuses to go any further.  After I explain to him rationally that he’ll be just fine, and that he needs the extra exercise to burn off the trash he devoured that day, I can often coerce him.  But it is never easy.  Tonight was no exception.

After a walk with Murph, I headed to the CHCC for a Tuesday evening climb.  Arrived a bit late, but still got some nice climbs in with Paul.  Until we hit this route, however.


I suppose you have the right to take your time.  But I’m also pretty sure there’s a sign on the wall encouraging urgency for the sake of cutting down on lines.  After waiting for over 10 minutes, we decided this was definitely ratable.  While not a rating of John, or his climbing (as he is still very much loved by us), it is a rating of the seemingly endless wait to finally get on the wall.  But if I’m being honest with myself here, maybe the real rating should be:


I suppose at the end of the day it wasn’t really John’s fault, but instead ours for choosing to wait in line behind the SLOWEST CLIMBING PAIR EVER.  Okay, I exaggerate.  But when the lines are long, your partner is hungry and trying to peace out early, every second counts.

Following another climb or two we headed out to Tyler’s for dinner and then the Orange County Social Club for some celebratory beers, as a friend’s new album was just released.


Seriously.  Heart smiling and loving life, there’s something about Joe Purdy that goes BEAUTIFULLY with a nice drive down Franklin Street.  Especially when it’s 80 degrees out and smells like summer.

Making it even more exciting?  Realizing that in a matter of two weeks all the undergrads will be gone and it will officially be CAROLINA SUMMER TIME!  I can’t wait 🙂

Overall, a great evening.  Stay tuned for the rating of Tripp’s newest album!

Until then, just living for the tens!

TSP and Two Lazy Pups








TOP SECRET PROJECT #1 (of 2011 at least): 10

Thanks to an old friend who randomly introduced us over e-mail, I’ve recently become involved with what I can only (at this time) call Top Secret Project #1 of this year.  Getting to think about all the components of a dream school, put them together in writing, and hopefully get them approved by the state, possibly leading to the opening of a new school as soon as 2012 is exciting to say the least.  I am lucky, excited and honored to have been included in the project.  This morning was another great morning of work with amazing people 🙂


Remember the good old days when you could sit around at a coffee shop for hours with college friends and spout intellectual theory and discuss the way the world should work?  Dropping big, academic words left and right to impress others, win the debate, or just convince yourself that your education really was worth the $40,000/year?

Yeah, the good old days.  I do miss those conversations (minus the pretention and big words that I preferred to substitute with smaller, easier to pronounce and understand words), but I don’t miss the kids in my classes who did this ALL THE TIME, about everything.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s what drove me away from academics (higher-level anyways), and from DC.  There’s a nice balance between the world of academia and the world of application.

BUT, that said, taking a trip down memory lane this morning was fun 🙂  One of the teachers I mentored this summer wrote me asking if she could pick my brain about feminism and teaching, as she’s currently working on her Women and Gender studies capstone, and also a NC Teaching Fellow.  I happily agreed, as she was one of my favorite teachers (shhh… we don’t really have favorites), and I love thinking about these things.  Turned out to be an amazing addition to the morning, as it reminded me that sometimes I can get too bogged down in actionable conversations and tangible takeaways, and no longer seek out the bigger picture, theory conversations that I did used to love.

She also enlightened me with her e-mail organization, the one compartment of my life I have yet to master in terms of organization (not counting my car…).  Check out the product a short two hours later:


Add in some intense labeling (color-coded of course), a three-tier starring system, and multiple inboxes, and I’m ready to take over the world.  The real test will be if it stands up over time, so I’ll revisit this rating in a week or two.

After this motivating coffee date, and the reclaiming of my inbox, I headed home to see this:





While it does make me jealous at times (-1), overall I’ll take this over THIS any day.  Thank you Murphy for growing up, and Kota for being so darn cute.  And for cleaning out my empty peanut butter jars with your giant tongue.  The recycling people thank you.

That’s all for now folks.  Until next time, just living for the tens 🙂

Why, hello fall!

Welcome to the best four months of the year.  Seriously, I’m not kidding.  Let me explain…

September: As this week proved, September is when the air starts to get a little cooler in the mornings, and night time walks with the pups require a hoodie or a fleece.  Absolute best feeling ever.  Football season has officially begun, including tailgating.  You have an excuse to do back-to-school shopping, and Hound Ears is less than a month away.

October: Now fall is in full swing, pumpkin flavored lattes, cakes, muffins, ice cream and even pancakes.  It’s everywhere, and you will never find this girl complaining about that.  You get to start brainstorming Halloween costume ideas, scouring thrift stores, and hosting pumpkin carving parties. Add in a corn maze and the North Carolina State Fair, and you’re as close to a 10 as a month can get.  Plus, it’s now officially okay to start listening to Christmas music.  Don’t even bother commenting on that one.  No one will ever convince me otherwise.

November: Halloween may be over, but the pumpkin foods are not.  Now we’re getting excited for a much needed Thanksgiving break, and a trip to the mountains.  It’s officially cold and I can start wearing my favorite hats and scarves.  Christmas music is now popping up on the radio and in malls…

December: Rejuvenated from Thanksgiving break, you’re now ready to attack the holiday season full force.  Christmas shopping, apartment decorating, holiday parties and visits with Santa at the mall.  Pumpkin is still available most places, in addition to some delicious gingerbread options.  Add in a nice 1-2 week break, and I’m loving life.  A lot.

So when it got cool this week and I got to really think about the season we were approaching I realized it was time to share a little of this joy with others.  Thankfully Jill was in town from DC, so we got a chance to start the celebrating.  Including our first high school football game of the season…


Despite the sky spitting on us all day, and throughout the night, I’m pretty grateful KIPP was playing locally.  Gave me an excuse to throw on a hoodie, brave the rain, see some of my favorite students, and witness a huge win for the Panthers!  -3 for the rain (meaning we couldn’t sit down, my toes got pretty wet, and my body took about 2 hours to get rid of my goosebumps).


HIGHLY entertaining.  Not always the friendliest of comments (hence the -1), but I loved how disproportionate our vocal presence was to our physical presence 🙂


Yup, after diving in on Thursday I’m worried the seasonal addiction has begun again.  Loved every second of this guy.

Still not over the price 😦

After some afternoon shopping at Southpoint, Jill and I headed to Cheesecake Factory for lunch.


20 minutes later she was ready to order.


I’m loving several of their vegan menu items, and decided to go with their Mushroom Lettuce Wrap.  Sauteed mushrooms with crunchy rice-like noodle guys, and giant pieces of lettuce to wrap it up in.  Seriously delicious!  And only $5.95.  Meaning I left Cheesecake Factory paying a total of $8.  Unheard of.  Even at the food court.

Was hungry a couple hours later, so not the most filling meal, but still worth it 🙂

After some serious Felicity marathon watching, and a visit to City Bev with great people, we headed out to the mountains.


I’ve heard a lot about Hanging Rock, and since visiting Blacksburg more recently I drive by the sign on the way there and the way back.  So this weekend was the time to check it out.

2 hours later we arrived.  A bit deceiving, as it was easily 30 minutes off of the highway where I thought it was going to be.  -1.

When we arrived we were presented with several options for hikes.  We went with the classic ‘Hanging Rock’ hike, a total of 3 miles round trip.  Rated ‘Moderate’, I would say that was a bit of an overstatement.  ‘Light Moderate’ would be more accurate.  There were some steep portions, but it was pretty short and not very rigorous.

This is great for an afternoon stroll, but I like to earn my views.  I also like to avoid loud children.  Especially when there are a lot.  And the more strenuous the hike, the less loud children.  And people in general.  -1.

That said, boy were the views amazing.  For an hour hike up, we were definitely rewarded with some of the best views I’ve seen since Maine last month.

Now I know you’re wondering about the last point.  See the ledge we’re sitting on right there?  Yeah, it’s a straight drop down.  Which not only makes me nervous for myself (which it does), but also for all those people I mentioned earlier.  Especially the kids.  NERVOUS. WRECK.   -1.


I love how much Murph likes to hike.  I love how tired he is after a long day of hiking (as I type, he’s sleeping next to me quietly).  And one of the reasons I wanted a dog in the first place was to take him hiking.

However, what I didn’t have in mind was him dragging me up mountains.  And then down again.

I swear I use twice as much muscle on every hike just pulling the opposite direction of him so I don’t tip over.  Case in point:

Don’t worry.  We made up once we got to the top.

Until we started hiking down, that is.

Once we finished we still had plenty of day in front of us, so we drove home (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’, while Jill slept like a baby in the passenger seat and Murph napped peacefully in his bed in the back of the car) and headed to the Tobacco Trail.  My new apartment complex offers free bike rentals and I’ve been meaning to try them out.  After handing over a check for $350 (which I got back as soon as the bike did) we were on the road again.


I love biking.  And you can’t beat a nice paved road with minimal hills, and good company.  I love biking with music, but I like biking with conversation even more.  Plus the temperature was PERFECT.  Long-sleeved shirt, no sweat, a nice fall breeze, and occasional whiffs of burning wood.

What a great way to end the day 🙂

Until next time, just living for the tens!

Hawaii’s Over the Hill…

It feels like it’s been a while since the framily got together (not counting the trip to Maine Paul, Ben & I just got back from- more on that later), so I was left with no option but to host a little get together this weekend.

Clearly it was only appropriate the theme was a Hawaiian Luau, considering that Sunday was the 52nd anniversary of their statehood.  Chuquin and I headed out that afternoon and did our best to find some things to spice up the apartment.  I’d say we did pretty well…


Only things missing were grass skirts and coconut bras…


Finding great leis was a bit harder than anticipated, however.  I knew immediately where to head, as I’ve hit up Party City for leis in the past (surprisingly effective classroom incentive for my 11th graders).   But I did not anticipate quite how expensive they’d be… $2 a pop for the average ones, and $3-$4 for the super colorful, thick and flowery ones.  I fell in love immediately with a bright yellow one, but forced myself to put it back when I realized I couldn’t afford one for everyone.  Bad taste for the hostess to sport a high-end lei while handing out the skimpy ones.

Ultimately we went with lei headbands, as they were two for $1, so I could purchase enough for everyone.  I added in a couple colorful smaller neck leis as well, and I’d say the combo did the trick.  That said, if money were no option we would have scored some awesome fluorescent ones.



I haven’t been this ecstatic about a new food option since Friday.  We picked up a bunch of stuff at Trader Joe’s in the morning, and after playing some beach volleyball out back decided to throw it all together.  We did pretty well, ending up with guacamole (it’s so good any country/state would be lucky to have it as part of their cuisine), fruit salsa, homemade tortilla chips, and lastly this delicious pizza.

I can’t claim any credit, as it was entirely Chuquin, but please allow me to gush for a minute.  It started with the $1.09 whole wheat dough from Trader Joes, covered with an olive oil/rosemary/Italian season blend, then topped with cut up pineapple (okay, I’ll take credit for this), and some mozerella soy cheese.  Yup, that’s right.  SOY CHEESE.  Those non-believers have never tried this brand, on this pizza.  LIFE CHANGING.  And I’d say that almost everyone who tried it would agree.

Couldn’t resist, and made a quesidilla tonight with the leftovers.  Almost as good, but not quite.


While pineapple is certainly vegan, virtually every recipe we found online was not.  Hence why guacamole became Hawaiian due to my ability to make/change the house rules.


While I hate to be a pain to those who haven’t chosen a vegan lifestyle, I’m constantly debating with myself whether or not I can ask others to do their best to bring vegan foods while I’m hosting.  While the cheeses and eggs don’t bother me much, I must admit I really am not a fan of tons of meat parading in whenever I host dinners.  Last night had to have been the most vegan friendly dinner we’ve had, with the only exception being a little tuna.  And what’s more Hawaiian than tuna???  Exceptions can sometimes be happily made 🙂

Check out my plate full of delicious veganness…


There was no hulaing, but they certainly looked good… the headband leis fit their necks perfectly J  In fact, they’re still wearing them today…



All in all another successful framily dinner.  The framily is constantly growing and changing, and it was great to have a whole bunch of new folks join.  Thanks Jill, Steve, Dan, Amanda, Jordan, Emily, Chris, Mauro & Chuquin!


Until next time, just living for the tens 🙂

Murph’s GIANT Bone

While at Target on Tuesday I walked past the dog section and had to glimpse (per usual).  IMMEDIATELY catching my eye was the largest dog bone I’ve ever seen in my life.  And oddly enough, the first thing I thought about was Murphy.

Not Dakota, my 80 lb. chocolate lab, but instead my 20 lb. puggle.  Because he’s so obsessed with food I could only imagine the excitement he would attack it with, and how hilarious it would be to watch him dragging, carrying, and struggling with this humongous bone would be.

Turns out I was not disappointed, as he has done all of the above.

Plus try desperately to bring it to bed with him.  Which is clearly impossible as he can barely jump up on the bed as it is, and can barely carry the bone on the floor, so it is QUITE entertaining to watch him attempt to jump on the bed with the bone in tow.

-1 for the gross thought of having a slobbery bone in my bed, and the whining that comes with me throwing the bone out of the bedroom so he’ll actually go to sleep.