cats

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #44: Moving. Again.

In case you’re behind on the Dunn family drama, on Sunday we had to move out of our lovely condo after living there a grand total of 10 weeks because our landlords sold it out from under us. Boo. The good news is that we found a new place very nearby to the old one. It’s a duplex so it’s in a neighborhood rather than a big complex. There’s a little yard (although it’s mostly a dirt patch) and the house has wood floors and a (non-functional) fireplace and a loft with a spiral staircase.

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We were able to negotiate with our old landlords to have our moving costs covered since we were doing them the courtesy of allowing them to break our one-year-lease in the first place. This was the first time we had a moving company do the moving for us instead of doing everything ourselves. It pretty much rocked.

We still had to pack up all of our loose things into boxes and suitcases and we transferred our delicate things (wall hangings and small lamps) ourselves to make sure they weren’t damaged. My new friend Kelly came over on Friday to help me pack up the kitchen and Jonathan and I finished packing up the contents of our closets and our many, many books by Saturday night. The movers arrived at 8:45 on Sunday and have everything completely moved to the new place by 12:30. We spent the rest of the day cleaning the old place and driving unloading our cars which were crammed full of our breakable things.

I was still grumpy about moving.

I was still grumpy about moving.

The worst part of the move was that it was raining steadily all day long and the dirt patch front yard quickly became a mud patch which meant the floors of the house were quickly covered in mud as people tromped in and out. We are still trying to get the floor clean, but for now, I’ll just be leaving my slippers on all the time.

While the new place has a lot of charm, there are some downsides. It’s smaller than the old place and the kitchen has a lot less storage space, including no pantry, so we’re still trying to figure out how to fit all of the kitchen stuff plus food. The cabinets are also all very high which means I can just barely reach things on the second shelf and can’t reach the third shelf at all. It might be time to invest in a step-stool! There’s no dishwasher in this place, and while we didn’t have a dishwasher for the two years we were in Korea, it makes life a lot easier.

Other small annoyances include not being able to paint this place like we did the old one and the fact that the windows came with curtain rods already installed (good!) but they are the flimsy white plastic ones and they are installed right on the window frame. The first rule of hanging curtain rods is to hang them higher and wider than the windows themselves because this creates more visual space. Having the rods right on the windows like that makes the windows look small and cramped. Also, the white rod poking through the curtains with rings at the top. I know those are dumb complaints, I just put so much effort into making the last place feel beautiful that I’m feeling less cheerful about compromising. But it is a unique, cozy place and I know I’ll grow to love it.

Not quite to the cute and cozy stage yet.

Not quite to the cute and cozy stage yet.

Probably the funniest part of the whole move has been watching our cats react to the spiral staircase. Ruthie took one look at it and sprinted to the top, then jumped up on the ledge at the top. It’s about 6 inches wide and if she fell off of it she’d drop at least 6 feet before hitting one of the stairs below. It’s horrifying, but she’s a daredevil. If I tried to block it off somehow she’d just figure out a more dangerous way to get up there. She runs up and down those stairs like she’s training for the Olympics.

Bart, on the other hand, didn’t even notice the stairs for a full day. When he finally looked up, apparently for the first time in seven hours, he made this face, which is an exact cat version of the face Troy from Community when he meets LeVar Burton. (It’s even funnier in real life.)

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The few times Bart has attempted the stairs he makes loud, whiny noises each time he takes a step with long pauses in between each one. He usually gives up after 3 or 4.

I’ll give you guys the full photo tour once we have it all set up, but it might take a little while since we’re fitting unpacking in around Jonathan’s school and my work schedule. Today I am practicing gratitude by being thankful for a new place to live that really is quite cute in spite of its flaws and for the fact that Jonathan and I are here together and as long as that’s true it doesn’t really matter where we are.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about my trip to New York you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

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What I’m Into: September 2015 Edition

September has been a month of high highs and low lows. Korea feels like a million years away and I miss it more than I could have possibly anticipated. September has felt both impossibly long and incredibly short and I’ve vacillated wildly between feeling overwhelmed with all there is to do and feeling unable to do anything at all. We’re settling in more and more every day, but it still doesn’t quite feel normal.

As usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this month.

What I’m Reading:

Guys. The library. That thing is amazing.

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Days of Blood and Starlight by Lanie Taylor. This is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. These books are intense. And fascinating. I’m completely sold on this YA fantasy trilogy about love and war and revenge and what it means to dream the world new.

selfishSelfish Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on Their Decision Not to Have Kids by Megan Daum. This was the book that earned me some alarmed looks from the librarian. It’s hard to give an overall impression of this book because there are 16 separate essays written by 16 individuals. Some of the essays I really appreciated and resonated with. Some I didn’t like at all. One thing that was interesting to me was that the vast majority of the writers were not people who had never wanted to have children. Most of them were people whose interest in reproduction waned over time, who became busy with other things, who didn’t have a willing partner, or who were otherwise unable. In some ways it was more a book about being content with not having children than it was about coming to the decision not to have them. Regardless, I found many of the perspectives in this book interesting and I certainly resonated with some of them (though not all).

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I actually listened to this as an audiobook and I think the audiobook is the way to go on this one. It’s read by the author who not only has a fantastic dramatic voice, but he does all of the voices and accents of the characters which brings this strange, fantastical story to life.

we were liarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This book tells the story of Cadence Sinclair Eastman, a member of the distinguished Sinclair family whose greatest ambition is to be sure to always appear as if everything is perfect. Every year Cadie and her cousins spend the summer on their grandfather’s island. The call themselves “The Liars” and they are inseparable. Until Summer Fifteen when a mysterious accident leaves Cadie with chronic headaches and a gaping hole in her memory. This is a very quick read that’s become pretty popular, but to me it was only OK.  (I listened to this as an audiobook on my way back and forth to Raleigh).

The Little PrinceThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery . I finally read this book which has been on my To Read list for ages! This is entirely thanks to the generosity of my reader, Duncan, who sent me his copy in the mail so I would have no more excuses. This is a tiny little book that is packed with meaning. It’s one of those rare books that children will enjoy for the basic story line and adorable illustrations while adults will pick up on the underlying commentary about life, human nature, and the differences between childhood and adulthood.

Big magicBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray Love). I just finished this today so it only just made it into September books. I’d love to do a full review of this book because I thought some of Gilbert’s ideas were so important. If you are a creator of some sort, I think this book has value for you. If you are the type of person who is bothered by someone speaking about creativity and inspiration is divine and mystical terms, than this book might irritate you. This book explores the paradoxes of the creative life – that creating art is vital to our humanity, and also completely inessential to human existence. That we should commit ourselves seriously to our creative work, and we should always remember that life and death do not hinge on what we do creatively. Most of all, it reminds the reader of why a creative life is a worthwhile life even if you never receive any kind of recognition for your work.

Currently reading: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, Washing the Dead by Michelle Brafman, Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella. Follow me on Goodreads for more reviews.

What I’m Watching:

The onslaught of fall shows is about to hit, but lately Jonathan and I have been sticking to Frasier re-runs, I’ve made it to season 3 of my Gossip Girl re-watch and picked up The Good Wife again. We watched the movie Stardust together one date night (cause I’m on a bit of a Neil Gaiman kick) but I don’t think we saw any new releases. We did watch the first two episodes of How to Get Away With Murder earlier this week and I’m absolutely hooked. Can’t wait to get caught up!

What I’m Listening To:

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Magic Lessons” podcast which is a sort of companion to her book Big Magic (though it works perfectly well on its own). For the podcast, Gilbert wanted to put a very practical spin on some of the things she wrote about in her book so she speaks with 5 creators (two writers, a musician, a painter, and a photographer who wants to be a podcast maker) who are feeling stuck in their creative lives for one reason or another. In one episode she will talk to that person about what’s holding them back and give them some advice and in the next episode she will call another (famous) friend of hers to discuss the case with them and get their input. She speaks to Cheryl Strayed, Ann Patchett, and Rob Bell, among others.

If you only listen to one episode of this whole podcast, listen to the last one (Episode 12) which is just a conversation between Gilbert and Brene Brown (author of Daring Greatly which I reviewed here and her new book Rising Strong)

What I’m Eating:

I know September was a little early for this, but ALL THE PUMPKIN THINGS!!!! Pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin cake with cinnamon cream cheese icing and pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin butter. I also made this very fall-themed spiced apple pork chop recipe last week and it was delicious. Now if only the weather would get on board with this whole fall thing.

via: Budget Bytes

Spiced Apple Pork Chops via: Budget Bytes

Follow me on Pinterest for more recipes and Instagram for more of what I’m eating (and other things!)

What I’m Writing:

I picked up a freelance job for the website Modernize this month. I’ve got an 8-week assignment with them for now writing various articles about home decor. This isn’t my usual genre but I’m enjoying doing something different (and being paid for it!) If you want to check out some of my articles you can click on the links below. My ongoing assignments are dependent on the number of views my articles bring in so I would greatly appreciate your clicking over, even just for a skim.

Creating a Home That Reflects Who You Are and Where You’ve Been

4 Small Decorating Changes That Can Make a Big Impact

Blogging has been a little sporadic, but I’ve kept up with my 52 Weeks of Adventure with weeks 36, 37, 38, and 39. I wrote about my reverse culture shock and about chronic homesickness. And I wrote about my new appreciation for the Lord’s Prayer and what it means to ask for Daily Bread when provision feels scarce.

What I’ve Been Up To:

Josh and Laura and baby Genevieve, our good friends from Korea, drove through town one afternoon on their way North Carolina to visit some family. They stopped by our place for an hour or so in the middle of their drive which was wonderful and also pretty surreal. It’s always odd to see people you know from one specific context in a completely different one.

Gen loved Ruthie. Ruthie was decidedly indifferent.

Gen loved Ruthie. Ruthie was decidedly indifferent.

We also had the chance to see our friends Sarah and Kyle (also friends from Korea) who were visiting Kyle’s parents who actually live in Columbia (small world!) but I completely forgot to take a picture with them.

I have been loving having our cats back. I used to hate cats before we got ours so I am sympathetic to those of you who are just not cat people, but our cats really are the best cats in the world (not that I’m biased). They are so cuddly and sweet and gentle and soft, even if they are a little obnoxiously needy and oblivious to the fact that I don’t actually want them to shove their little heads under my hands for petting while I’m in the middle of typing.

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We have (fingers crossed!) found a new place to live. Nothing’s signed yet so I don’t want to say too much about it, but things are looking hopeful! If all goes as planned we will move at the beginning of November. The new place is smaller than the current one, but is a duplex so it feels more like being in a regular house which is fun.

My beautiful bestie, Christina, got married this past weekend which meant I spent more than half of last week in Raleigh for all of the wedding festivities. It was the most beautiful wedding of life.

Could you just die? Exquisite photo credit to Grain & Compass

Couldn’t you just die of beauty? Exquisite photo credit to Grain & Compass

I continue to spend a lot of my time looking for work and while I don’t have a full-time job, I’ve managed to stay very busy lately substitute teaching at a local private school, working on a few freelance writing pieces, and tutoring 4 -5 times/week. It’s not consistent and it’s not quite enough income, but I actually really enjoy having a schedule that varies from day to day and if I could scrape together enough hours doing all of these different things I think I could be happy doing that.

What have you been into this month? What am I missing out on?

What I’m Into: August 2015 Edition

I think this month may be a record for cramming the most experiences into just 31 days. I can’t even wrap my mind around the fact that I was still living and working in South Korea at the beginning of the month. If I had to sum it up I’d say what I’ve been into this month is change. Also reverse culture shock. It’s a real thing. Linking up with Leigh Kramer for this slightly belated post.

What I’m Reading:

I haven’t read anything (other than a few pages here and there) since arriving in the US August 14th. I’ve been too busy for leisure reading and too tired at the end of the day for more than a few sentences before I fall asleep. However, I just got my Richland County Library card today so game on!

MIS85-2At the beginning of August I read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield which was recommended to me by a friend. I had such mixed feelings about this book. Butterfield recounts her radical conversion from an atheist lesbian feminist activist who was a tenured professor in Gay and Lesbian Studies at the University of Syracuse. To me, the most interesting part of this portion of the book was the beginning where she writes about the ways she came to find Christianity compelling over a long period of time and the Christians who were in her life who were loving and gracious towards her rather than pushy and judgmental. In later chapters, however, Butterfield strays from her personal experiences and more or less makes arguments for some of her (incredibly conservative) views such as complementarianism, Psalm-only worship, and homeschooling, none of which are views I share.

51gCHV1OdGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Next I read Emily P. Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl, which I’d been wanting to read for a long time. As another self-professed “good girl” who lived most of my life in fear of rocking the boat, striving for perfection and placing my identity in my own goodness, this book resonated with me. I expected this book to be more conversational or memoir-esque than it was and I wish I’d heard more personal input from the author, but hey, that means the market is still open for a book like that. ; )

DSB_final_6_1I read Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the first book in a YA fantasy trilogy of the same name. I’m now a little more than halfway through the second book in the trilogy with hopes of finishing soon now that life is settling down a bit. I’d heard great reviews of these books, but I admit that it took me a while to get into. As in, I was at least halfway through the first book before I was like, “Dear goodness, I am so glad I stuck with this because now I can’t put it down!”

I’m planning to finish the second book in the trilogy (Days of Blood & Starlight) and then finally read The Little Prince which I now own a copy of thanks to my incredibly kind and generous reader, Duncan, who sent it to me all the way from Australia. (Seriously humbled by how kind and thoughtful many of you are).

What I’m Watching:

Before leaving Korea we saw Mission Impossible 5 in theaters. Always fun. On the plane I watched The Age of Adaline. It had a very Benjamin Button vibe. I could dig it. Also I’m also really into Michiel Huisman who plays the love interest (my experience with him mostly being based on his role in Nashville). 

I’ve continued my guilty pleasure Gossip Girl re-watch kick lately. It’s a ridiculous show, but Chuck and Blaire, man. Chuck and Blaire. I blame my cat, Bart, who loves watching GG with me, especially on the nights that Jonathan’s in class. We’ve also continued to watch Frasier together (Jonathan and I, not Bart and I).

Bart is all about his Gossip Girl fix

Bart is all about his Gossip Girl fix.

What I’m Listening To:

The radio! Who knew the radio could be so fun?! I’ve probably got about one week left before I’ve reached the saturation point since they do play the same songs over and over, but for now I’m still jamming to Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, and Walk the Moon. And I feel that Ed Sheeran and I are in a committed relationship. Also George Ezra. I love “Budapest.” It gives me all the feels.

What I’m Eating:

All the western foods, naturally. I also felt compelled to try out the limited edition Lays chip flavors that are out right now for the Do Us a Flavor competition where America votes on the next permanent flavor (which is funny cause I’m not a big chip eater normally). The four options are West Coast Truffle Fries, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, Greektown Gyros, and New York Reuben. I’ve tried the first three so far and the Truffle Fries are hands-down the winner.

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Otherwise, we are eating turkey everything. There is no turkey in Korea so we’ve been having turkey sandwiches, turkey burgers, and turkey bacon to our hearts’ content. Ooh, and cheese. And Greek yogurt.

I’ve gained like 4 pounds. Worth it.

On the Internets:

Mmmm, I haven’t really done much internet viewing/reading this month. But you can always count on Jamie the Very Worst Missionary for something good. This post is called “Actually, I Can Judge You.”

This post from Addie Zierman on “All the Crooked, Half-Healed Places.”

This funny post from The Toast on “The Comment Section on Every Article Ever Written About Breastfeeding”

And this guest post from Eleanor Rooke on unexpected sacred spaces and everyday monotony.

On the Blog:

Not so much, really. I did have a satirical piece published over at Arise (Christians for Biblical Equality) called “Acting Like a Lady.” Otherwise I kept up with my 52 Weeks of adventure with a few final Korean adventures (here and here and here) and a my first American adventure (here). I did a Book Chat on what’s on my Amazon wish list and made two lists – Top 10 Things I’ll Miss About Korea followed by Top 10 Things I Won’t Miss About Korea.

I’m (hopefully) back to more regular blogging now and hope to use this space to process our ongoing transition, reverse culture shock, impressions of America after two years away, and what it looks like to build a new community.

What I’ve Been Up To:

Moving, obviously. : ) Spending time with family, seeing some friends who live in the Carolinas, traveling to Wisconsin for an epic roommate reunion, painting and decorating our new place only to have the landlord call us one week into our lease and say that they got an offer from someone who wants to buy our condo and they want us to move out. (Yes, I’m serious. More on that later).

Beautiful living room with a long-anticipated gallery wall we now have to move out of.

Beautiful living room with a long-anticipated gallery wall we now have to move out of.

Interviewing. Trying to find a job/jobs. Having one job I was counting on fall through. Meeting the other people in Jonathan’s MFA program. (He’s finishing his second full week of classes today). Exploring our new city and trying a few restaurants. Going back and forth to the DMV four times in one morning to get all the documents necessary to get a South Carolina driver’s license and register our cars. Getting our cats back from their long-term cat sitter. (Bart has gotten fat. Ruthie looks the same. Their personalities are largely unchanged).

Getting another Korea-related fungal ear infection and spending my first week in Columbia finding an ENT and being treated with purple dye in my ear which stained everything it touched a brilliant violet. Joining a women’s Bible study with about 20 women of various ages who are all mothers except for me. Which has launched me back into my semi-annual soul-searching on the question – Kids, for or against? (Ultimately irrelevant right now since we have no income).

I’m exhausted.  And excited. And anxious. And overwhelmed. And happy. And looking forward to a September that is hopefully less eventful.

How was the end of your summer?

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure # 27: Cat Cafe

Before we moved to Korea I remember reading blog posts about how popular pet cafes are here. Pet cafes, like the name implies, are coffee shops where you can enjoy a beverage while being surrounded by puppies and kitties. What could be better than sipping espresso while petting a fluffy kitty of twelve? Since arriving in Korea we’ve visited a few pet cafes and while it isn’t something most people would do every weekend, it is a unique and fun experience. We decided to go to one of our local cat cafes this weekend to get our cat fix and to experience something we won’t be able to do soon one more time.

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When you go into the cat cafe you take off your shoes and go through the gate. You wash your hands and pay the admission fee (8,000 won or about $8 USD) which includes a drink you select from the menu. Then you are free to roam around or settle wherever you’d like. There are special cat treats you can purchase if you want, but you don’t have to.

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The cats are very mellow and wander around as cats do, climbing on the tables and sprawling lazily on top of people’s bags at will. The whole thing is probably pretty unsanitary, but also fun.

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The ones that look really grumpy are kind of my favorites.

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I don’t think its angry, that’s just how its face looks.

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This little girl had treats.

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I want a fat orange cat so bad. I think we need another ginger in our family.

Personally, I prefer the cafes that only have cats. I’ve only been to one that had dogs (the cats and dogs were on separate floors) and I didn’t feel good about the dogs being in that environment. While they were undoubtedly well-fed and received more attention than some dogs, there were simply too many of them in too small of a space and I felt like they needed to be free to run around and to have an owner that cared for them and bonded with them. In contrast, I feel like the cats in the cat cafe are better off than a lot of cats in Korea. Cats aren’t nearly as popular of pets in Korea as dogs are and there are street cats EVERYWHERE so the cats in the cafe actually have a really great life compared to most cats in Korea. I actually saw a dead kitten in the road on my way to school last week which made me so sad. I feel that the cats in the cafes are well fed and they have all the fancy cat trees and cubbies and equipment they could want, so they can decide when they want to interact and can easily get away when they need alone time. They all seem to get along with one another really well and get lots of attention and they are all very gentle.

Pet Cafes aren’t exclusive to Korea (in fact, when we were in Japan there was a bunny cafe, but we didn’t go to it), but Korea is the first place that we ever encountered them and so we will always associate them with Korea. We may not be able to go to a cat cafe in America, but we’ll have something much better – we’ll be reunited with our own fur babies, Bart and Ruthie, who have been staying with friends for the past two years. We miss their little personalities and presence in our home and they are just one of the many, many things we are looking forward to about being back in America.

Can you believe that we’re more than halfway through the 52 Weeks of Adventure?! Be sure to check out my most faithful co-adventurers, Pradnya and Jenn who have both come so far on this journey and shared so many beautiful adventures.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few – no pressure. If you missed last week’s adventure about our photo shoot with Laura you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.