Memphis Vacation: Trains, Planes & Automobiles

Friday, March 25th

The train

After giving Symphony’s dad a ton of last-minute instructions and giving Sym and the dogs a million hugs, Taylor and I left to catch our train to Seattle. I have to say, taking the train was AWESOME. We don’t have a car, so when we’ve gone don before we’ve had to rent one, and the train was cheaper, there was no wait at the border and it didn’t take much longer than driving would have.


cars waiting at the border crossing- suckers!

Amtrak Station in Seattle

the dilapidated Seattle train station
We got to Seattle at around ten and went straight to our hotel out by the airport. Even though it was late we were hungry so we had something to eat at this nasty Denny’s and then back to the hotel where Taylor slept, but I was super anxious/wired so I stayed up reading half the night.

Sea-Tac Holiday In

Saturday, March 26th

Tanie, waiting.

I still managed to wake up bright and early the next morning, and after having a lightning-quick shower we hopped on the shuttle to the airport (which was across the street).

Airport Dog Walk

the airport dog poop room was Taylor’s favorite
After the infamous wedding-postponing flight cancellation of Christmas 2008, I’ve been paranoid about some sort of vacation disaster derailing my plans, but everything went off without a hitch! Our first flight was from Seattle to Salt Lake City was less than two hours, although here were some annoying kids and a screaming baby on board. All I saw of Utah was the airport because our layover was on an hour. Our second flight from SLC to Memphis was annoying kid & screaming baby-free AND we arrived in Memphis early!

My friend Amy was there to met us at the airport, and she is as awesome irl as she is on the internet. She and her husband Zach live in a small apartment downtown, so she’d arranged for Taylor and I to stay at her friend Amy N’s house in Midtown, which is adorable and comes stocked with a dog for Taylor and I to use as a Dougal/Georgie/Kichou surrogate. That first night however, we were supposed to stay at Zach & Amy’s on an air mattress so after a quick tour of the house we headed downtown.

lovely Ada (Aida? idk) the dog in the living room of the Midtown house. Amy’s N’s shady neighbor’s at her old place left Ada chained up and abandoned when they moved out, so she went over with a pair of bolt cutters and rescued her

We met Zach and had some drinks at their apartment and then headed over to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken for dinner. We had to wait about forever for a table but it was worth it since it was delicious!

not pictured: all the extra chicken tenders they brought for Amy and me since these ones were skimpy

After eating we went over to a neighborhood bar where Amy & Zach sang some karaoke (Taylor & I are not karaoke people). It was funny, people kept mistaking Taylor for Zach and someone asked if they were brothers. What are the odds that two Sweet Valley-obsessed internet friends would both marry bearded, bespectacled giants?

Now, earlier in the evening Zach had turned on the fan to blow up their air mattress for us to sleep on, but unfortunately the motor burned out while we were gone and when we got back sometime after four it was still flat as a pancake. Luckily, Taylor wasn’t drunk (unlike me) because he had to drive us (in Zach’s car) back to Amy N’s house in Midtown, using Amy’s hand-written directions and my spurious navigational skills. Amazingly, we made it back without incident and after a long, long, long day of travel, we were both happy to pass out.

Coming up: Grizzlies & Graceland
Taylor took way more pictures than I did but won’t be uploading them until we get back to Vancouver.

Ready To Go

photo-on-2011-03-25-at-15-26

Taylor is tired and claims not to be grumpy but I do not believe him

Long time (three days) no post! I’ve been really busy with packing and cleaning for my trip, or rather, doing anything I can to AVOID packing and cleaning. I actually did all of the former and most of the latter today!

I like to clean before vacations (well I don’t LIKE it, but you know) so that I don’t come home to a nasty mess, but also because Sym’s dad and stepmom are going to be staying here with Sym and all the pets, and I would feel like a real jerk if I left them with a dirty disaster to deal with!

Anyway, I’m leaving here soon to go to the train. I’m HOPING to keep updating while I’m away, but I think we all know how that worked out when l went to Hawaii last spring (if you don’t, it worked out as no posts at all until I got back). Hopefully I’m more on top of it this year, but if not, see you all in a week!

Adventures in Blogvertising

The other week I conducted a little experiment- I bought ad space for this blog on a fancier, more popular blog. A lot more popular blogs seem to be offering ad or sponsor space, but most of them are monthly and I wasn’t ready to commit to it, so I found one that does it by the day. I bought a week, made my little ad, and the experiment was on! Let’s check out the results:

screen-shot-2011-03-22-at-11-26-18-am

My ad ran from the 14th to the 20th, and here’s the thing- while I did have some referrals that came from the ad on the other blog, there weren’t that many. On the Monday there were 40, 15-20 for the next couple days, and dwindling to 6 by the last day. It might look from that sweet chart that there was increased traffic later in the week (Thursday, Saturday and Sunday), it wasn’t much higher than days I’ve had without advertising. Anyway, most of those views actually came from tumblr- Bronny posted a link to my space shirt tutorial on her tumblr and it got liked and reblogged a bunch of times, all for free. My highest day so far this month, yesterday, had NOTHING to do with the ad, which isn’t running anymore.

I guess my conclusion is that for me, advertising on another blog isn’t worth it, and I probably wouldn’t do it again.

Blogging in Memphis

Last year I came up with this brillaint idea that we should take a family vacation to Hawaii every year; Taylor and I got married there in 2009 and in 2010 the three of us spent an awesome week getting sweet sunburns. I figured we had the whole Maui thing down pat- we’d done the volcano and the road to Hana, so the next time we went our itinerary would be something like…
day 1: beach
day 2: beach
day 3: beach
day 4: beach
day 5: beach
day 6: Maui Ocean Center because Sym is obsessed with aquariums

Unfortunately, a certain member of our family cough*Taylor*cough made the painful observation that we couldn’t really afford to go to Hawaii this year. Flights + condo rental + car rental was just out of our financial reach. Ugh. LAME. I was looking down the barrel of a vacation-free spring, which was just unacceptable. I needed something to look forward to! The solution? Memphis, Tennessee!

Now, when I told people we were going to Memphis, everyone made weird faces and asked “What? Memphis? Why?” The answer to that question is something that outs me as being super uncool, so prepare to have all your illusions shattered. There are two parts to it: livejournal, and Sweet Valley High.

ljsvh

So. Back in aught two, I was on livejournal. I mean, who wasn’t? And if you were on livejournal back then you might remember the whole thing with “unique interests.” If not, here’s a primer: in your userinfo you could list a bunch of stuff you were into and people could search through interests to find your journal. If a bunch of people liked the same interest it would show up as a link that when clicked, would take you to a list of all the people who liked that same thing, and then you could be internet friends with them! What fun! However, if only ONE person listed something as an interest, it wasn’t a link. At some point I decided to add “sweet valley high” as an interest (more on that later) only to see it wasn’t a link, it was a unique interest. I WAS THE FIRST PERSON ON LIVEJOURNAL TO BE INTERESTED IN SWEET VALLEY HIGH. I know, it’s a real badge of honour.

A bit about SVH & me: when I was in the seventh grade, SVH books were the absolute coolest thing. We’d all share them and read them during class (our classes were 45 minutes long, exactly the right amount of time to read one book). Now, my parents did not think SVH books were good books, and would not buy me any. As a result, I only had two: #5 Dear Sister and #39 Secret Admirer. My friend Dana, whose parents were rich and spoiled her, had fifty. FIFTY. And I was like, her fifth best friend so I didn’t get to read her books until after all her better friends had. I know, so unfair, right?

One day around my 25th birthday I started thinking about the universal unfairness of it all, and realized that hey, I was a grown up; nothing could stop me from buying all the SVH books now (except for shame)! Plus they were easy to find at thrift stores for about 25¢, so I took the bus out to Value Village and started collecting. Here’s the thing though: back in the seventh grade there was about 50 SVH books. When I started collecting them there were almost 200 (not counting all the spin-off series). My collection is actually still ongoing- I’m about ten books away from completing the series.

Back to livejournal: at some point I was looking at my userinfo page when I noticed something had changed: the “sweet valley high” in my interests had become a link. SOMEONE ELSE WAS INTERESTED IN IT. I quickly clicked over to that person’s journal, and that’s how I met Amy.

From her journal posts, Amy seemed really funny and cool (or uncool the way I was uncool) and over the next few years we became good e-friends. After she and her husband Zach moved to Memphis a few years ago, she totally got on my case about visiting them. When my dream of a third Hawaiian vacation fell through, I sent Amy a quick message on facebook which received an enthusiastic reply.

tanieamyfb

We went on to discuss travel arrangements and dates- I suggested March 26th to April 2nd, in part because I wanted a spring vacation, but mostly because of this:

sweetvalleyconfidential

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later, the HIGHLY ANTICIPATED sequel to the Sweet Valley series, is coming out on next week. A few years ago Amy and I had an extensive commentversation on my livejournal detailing what would happen in a SVH sequel if we wrote it, so it seemed only fitting that we get together for the real, actual, Francine-sanctioned sequel! It was either this or wait for the Diablo Cody-penned movie, which better not suck or istg I’m crackin’ skulls.

I told you I was super uncool.

Of course we’re going to do other things while we’re there: see a Grizzlies game (the Memphis Grizzlies used to be the Vancouver Grizzlies so it’s fitting somehow), check out Graceland, have Amy show us (by which I mean me) the seamy underbelly of the Memphis thrifting scene, maybe see the Grey Gardens musical (idk if I can sell Taylor on that one), and eat all kinds of delicious food! I’m also really excited to see such a different part of America; I’ve never been to a state that didn’t directly touch the Pacific Ocean. In fact, the furthest east I’ve been in the US is Seattle, Washington, although the Puget Sound is PART of the Pacific so I don’t think that really counts.

Symphony isn’t coming with us on this trip; she’s going to stay home and her dad and stepmom are going to stay here with her and all the pets. She’ll still be on spring break so her dad took the week off work and they’ll get to spend lots of daddy-daughter time while I’m away. Actually more like daddy-daughter-dozens-of-dogs time, haha.

Two Years

Two years ago I was lucky enough to be able to marry the handsomest, most wonderful man alive. Happy anniversary Taylor, I love you so much.

Sleepy Love

(This was before he went to work last night & he was very sleepy)
In a sort of celebration I finally put something up on the Tanie + Taylor page. Be warned, it has a billion pictures!

Some stuff I’ve been up to besides typing up that behemoth:

Ceiling Poms

Putting up more tissue paper pompoms in the naproom. I really just want to fill the whole ceiling with them. Is that crazy?

Breakfast at Tree House & Hot Chocolate

Finally framed my Breakfast at Tree House print, although I still need to find somewhere to hang it up. It’s pictured here with hot chocolate & marshmallow fluff.

Speaking of frames, check out this awesome one I bought this weekend.

New Frame
New Frame

It opens like a little cupboard! Just guess what I’m going to put in it. JUST GUESS. (If you said MICRO BUNTING give yourself a pat on the back). Other things I bought include a bulletin board for my office, pale purple paper for my next project, and new shoes (which I wore for too long on Saturday afternoon, giving myself tons of blisters, oops).

Essie Turquoise & Caicos
Turquoise Nails

Painted my nails again, Essie Turquoise & Caicos. Which I just bought. YES I BOUGHT ANOTHER NAIL POLISH WHAT OF IT. Actually I bought two. Actually Taylor bought them, so I guess I get a pass on my crazy nail polish obsession.

Now I have to go attend to a bunch of stuff, most notably this horrible laundry monster. I usually never do this, I swear, I just really didn’t want to fold sheets and towels this weekend.

Laundry Monster

It’s just the first of many things I have to do around here before the end of the week when I leave for vacation (more on that later!).

Outside

This blog is quickly becoming almost totally bunting themed. I actually promised myself I wouldn’t post about bunting for a while BUT I finally solved one of my biggest problems with it: my bunting is made of paper, and is therefore an inside-only type of decoration. Well, not anymore!

Outside Bunting

Behold my all-weather, all-cheerful, all-plastic bunting! And ignore my nasty backyard, it was never properly fixed up after last year’s sinkhole incidents. I was hoping the property management would repair the damage they did by killing half the grass with a big pile of dirt but so far nothing has been done. LAME. Anyway, at least I brightened it up a bit!

Outside Bunting

Tackier Nails

Last night I was trying to peel the price sticker off the colouring book I bought for Taylor and it must have been some sort of super heavy-duty price sticker because I chipped three of my nails really badly! I didn’t want to redo them in the same polish, but I also didn’t want to take the polish off my other, non-chipped nails, so instead I did this.

Blue + Glitter Tips

Essie Beach Bum Blu + Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Diamonds tipped with Sally Hansen New Lengths Secrets

I have had this Sally Hansen New Lengths Secrets polish longer than any other nail polish. It’s this really GOD AWFUL yet AMAZINGLY GOOD iridescent silver glitter. It’s super sparkly and has super great coverage, I’ve tried doing my whole nails with it but it is TOO INTENSE to do my whole nails with it, so instead I just did the tips of three nails? Obviously this is a way classier look.

Wednesday Evening

Tonight we went to what I THOUGHT was parent-teacher night at Sym’s school, but really it was just Sym showing us (her dad and me) all the stuff the kids in her class (and the neighboring classes) have been working on. Parent-teacher meeting about Sym are always pointless anyway- she behaves and gets good grades, OH NO. I remember one year the “action plan” her teacher came up with for her was “keep doing everything you’ve already been doing exactly the same.” So I guess I shouldn’t complain!

Signs of Early Spring

spring is popping out all over the place

Anyway. Afterwards Sym and I ran some little errands and bought silly things, like tiny stuffed dogs and unicorns, the indie-rock colouring book for Taylor, and some supplies for a new project I want to start work on.

Supplies

it’s for a surprise

By the time we got home it was too late to cook a real meal, so we had milk and alphaghettis instead.

Sym at Dinner

she wouldn’t take off my Ylaine Neverending Circle scarf

Sym practiced her piano and we read the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and then it was (late) bedtime for Symmies. Taylor is still sleeping after a 12½ hour shift today so now it’s just me & this little fuzz, who missed us terribly while we were out.

Georgie

fuzzy of constant sorrow

OH WAIT Taylor just woke up yay! Husband time 🙂

Symphony’s Weekend

She made felt flatties of Crabbe & Goyle for her friend Stasi.

Crabbe & Goyle Felt Flatties

She had her final Swim Kids 1 class and did so well she not only passed, she also passed Swim Kids 2! I’m so thrilled at how well she did, her instructor was really great and I think the inadvertent private lessons (no one else signed up for her class) really helped.

Super Swim Kid

When she was taking down her fort on Saturday she stabbed herself in the eye with one of the sticks and now it’s all bloody and gross. No pictures because she’s embarrassed about it and has been wearing her hair over her eye, like a tiny Veronica Lake.

Symphony as Veronica Lake