Mismatched Mess

of life, love, fashion, & forgetting to update


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The River

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There’s a calm in my mind that exists at a time that doesn’t make sense. There’s a warmth that spreads through me like a sleepy river, constant and unwavering. The calm glides through me and into you, and your calm floats downstream into me.

No mask. Nothing fake. Pure and sweet and harsh and bitter. We bite into the fruit that opens up our world, our minds, our hearts. And the acerbic taste brings us pain, the substance brings us closer, the sweet aftertaste brings us calm.

We trust what we cannot know. We connect and reconnect. We hurt, but we hurt together. We bring the calm.


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Blackberries

Wild blackberries grow along the wooded path we enjoy walking. A wooded path that runs alongside the River Stour, providing a small escape from the city. This fascinated me.

It reminded me of my childhood. It seems like a dream. Family loaded in a car, traveling to the magical forest of Harleton, Texas where buckets full of blackberries awaited.

The hot summer sun made the days longer. Sweaty, uncomfortable hours that stretched into eternity. Time didn’t matter, until it did; until it was uncomfortable. Juicy blackberries staining our hands and mouths red, thorns pricking our arms and legs, mosquitoes leaving itchy welts along our skin. Foot races between mother and daughter, father and daughter, sister and sister. A memory that seems like a dream, stretched into a timeless, shadowy vortex; swirling fact with fiction.


What is fact? What is fiction?

What can the imagination truly erase, if it’s written on someone else’s memory? Can we control our stories if they all just end up as hazy dream-like substances floating along our subconscious? What will be remembered if we let it all fade away?

The power of remembering is a gift. Even when it’s a curse. Even when you remember guilt or pain. At least you remember. Even when you want to forget…it’s probably better to remember. It’s easier to remember pain. That gives you the power to blame. Blame yourself, blame someone else…blame gives you power to color your memories in pain, even if it wasn’t all painful.

Remembering through ‘love’ might be harder. To color your memories with love, where there was love. To scream and fight and wrestle with the idea that love still exists, even in the moments that are factually, historically painful. And to remind yourself everyday that love still exists when the evidence isn’t in front of you. When it’s not something tangible, anymore, does love grow stronger or weaker? Or does that depend upon the stories you create? And does it grow weaker if you can’t control the story? If it’s written on someone else’s memory, does it grow weaker if they don’t, also, make themselves remember that love exists? The phrase ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ comes to mind. Does it? Will it?

Multiple stories. Multiple memories. You can’t know what you’ll easily forget; what will hurt the most to remember. You remember the sun making you tired as a child. You remember blackberry bushes scraping your skin. You can’t know how other people see the same story. You just remember they were there. They were a part of something. It was real. You weren’t alone.


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A Week in Nijmegen, Netherlands

Nijmegen, Netherlands

Our trip to Nijmegen was very different from any trip we’ve taken together in the past.

Edinburgh, Dover, London, have all been weekend trips.

This trip lasted five days and we both still had to work during our time there. Taylor attended a conference related to his PhD work, which included people from all different fields, including his advisor, presenting papers.Nijmegen, Netherlands bikingNijmegen, Netherlands

Each day was a little different–for instance, I attended the conference the first day. While it was quite over my head, I did enjoy myself and took advantage of the free coffee that was always available. The next two days I chose to stay home and work, but I explored the town center a little as well. It was fun to explore, but weird being on my own.

Still, I’m glad I did it, and was able to show Taylor all the lovely nooks, crannies and alleyways I found along the way. I brought along my DSLR and camcorder, but ended up only snapping quick shots with my phone.

Nijmegen is a good sized biking city, and is apparently the oldest city in the Netherlands. While we didn’t get to see too much, we enjoyed our time exploring, eating the delicious food and hanging out in our amazing Airbnb flat!

Nijmegen, NetherlandsNijmegen, NetherlandsNijmegen, NetherlandsNijmegen, Netherlands
Nijmegen, NetherlandsNijmegen, NetherlandsNijmegen, NetherlandsNijmegen, Netherlands
Nijmegen, Netherlands


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Dover Travel Video…and Bloopers

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I have begun making travel videos for our adventures abroad.  I love these videos and wrote about my basic plan for them last week.

Our trip to Dover last weekend was so fun.  After I made the initial ‘pretty’ travel video,  I decided to make a blooper reel as well.  In the videos I show you serene scenes of landscapes and buildings set to lovely music,  but in reality my husband and I are two dorks and our commentary is so contradictory to the lovely scenes you see.  Have a look!  And check out my YouTube channel for more #TexansAbroad funny and lovely videos!


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Kale, Mushroom and Broccoli Burgers

Kale Broccoli and Mushroom Burger with Spicy Mustard Sauce

 

These are delicious! Taylor and I loved the Kale and brussels sprouts burgers I made awhile back, so I decided to give another go to our green burger! The spicy mustard barbeque sauce makes this meal! You can get the recipe for the mustard here.

Kale Broccoli and Mushroom Burger with Spicy Mustard Sauce

You can see a more in depth recipe below!

Recipe makes: About 8 small patties | 4 normal patties

2 cups chopped kale
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup chopped mushroom
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1 tbsp chopped onion
1 egg
Pepper, salt and spices to taste
Bowl of flour
Vegetable Oil

Preheat skillet to a low heat. Add vegetable oil.

Mix kale, broccoli, mushroom, crackers, onion, egg and spices together in a bowl. Make sure all the ingredients are coated with egg. Let sit for a few minutes so the mixture can begin to meld together.

Using your hands, form small parts of the mixture into patties. Sprinkle/dip the patty into flour on both sides. Carefully add the patty in the skillet to begin browning. Be careful not to move/mash them as they are quite delicate!

After browning both sides, set aside to cool. Make the spicy mustard sauce and enjoy with whatever you like! We used toast and cheese.


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#TexansAbroad | Dover, England

Dover Castle Grounds

This past weekend me and Taylor took a 40 minute train ride to the coast to visit the town of Dover. Hopping off the train, we made our way through town in search of a map of Dover and breakfast.

There was nothing remarkable about the particular breakfast place we chose. It called itself The Mean Bean. It served strong coffee and cold pastries. It was rather early so the place was empty when we sat down. As we sipped our lattes and made a loose plan for our day, the coffee shop slowly began to fill up. Each and every customer greeted the owner with conversation and camaraderie. They spread themselves out amongst a few tables, but the conversation never stopped. A few patrons table-swapped to have more personal catch-ups with their friends. The place filled with laughter, British slang, and the smell of coffee. We had stumbled into a local establishment.

This was actually a major find for us. We love Canterbury so much, but between all of the universities and its only industry–tourism, you can’t just walk into any given place and be met with locals. This place was the real deal. It was wonderful and amusing and refreshing.

Dover was refreshing.

Dover, Kent Ocean

Dover still has quite the tourist draw, with its famous white cliffs, a major castle, and its lovely seaside location. But there was such a difference between it and Canterbury. We were thrilled to step away from the hustle of tourists in Canterbury to the slower paced Dover.

We had an amazing time hiking the cliffs, visiting the castle and eating like locals.

Dover, Kent white cliffs of Dover

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Dover_Kent_2015 (181)


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Motivational Monday – Reflecting On Losing–and Finding–Focus

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1. 5 Steps to a Productive Morning by thedailypositive.com | 2. How to Lazy-Proof Your Day by Bravely | 3. Progress, not perfection daily goal checklist by EliseJoy | 4. Motivational Poster by The Motivational Type

There’s something so fluid about productivity. That is, if you allow it to be fluid.

I can go weeks with doing everything right. I can follow the few steps I’ve laid before myself; waking up early, maintaining a decent pace at work, even exercising and cleaning. I can be wholly there and I feel great. I feel amazing, actually. Each day gets better and better as my body adjusts to a productive schedule and a full life.

It only takes one day. Not one day to allow myself to take a break: one day to stop everything. It’s like I’m cursed in a fairy tale. As long as I stay productive I can be the adventurous, independent hero the story knows and loves, but as soon as I stop, I turn into the slothful troll who does nothing but make a mess of the story line.

Maybe that analogy made sense.

I am not a marathon runner in this race of life. I’m either sprinting full speed ahead or tumbling down a hill so fast back into a lazy way of living, and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance this. I know this kind of laziness is not healthy for me. Sleeping late, eating terribly, no exercise…. it physically hurts me. The back pain I’ve been dealing with for years comes back full force, my skin starts battling between too dry or too oily. Sure, I still work and still get things done, but nothing feels good. Nothing inspires me.

It’s interesting that I do this to myself. So yes, I’m still figuring it out. Perhaps it will always be an issue, but as I learn to work at home and learn more about myself, I feel like I’ll be able to better manage myself more and more each day. I’m just going to make being productive a habit that I can’t break.

So here’s to you, Monday, the start of another work week and another chance to make this week a healthy, productive one!


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Finding Ways to Keep Focused

Seinfeld | George Falling Asleep Under Desk

A couple weeks ago I described losing focus while working. I linked it to being uninspired with certain projects and blamed it on my personality type. (There’s always something else to blame, isn’t there?)

I really don’t like being unproductive when it comes to my job, but I can’t deny that I work best in bursts of energy. When I have those inspiring, energetic moments I soar. I absolutely love the feeling. I can multi-task like no other; creating, emailing, advertising…all at once. It’s amazing. But just like with the energy you can get from a sugar high, the crash is inevitable. And with crashes come lulls.

That’s what I need to learn to deal with. The lull. I need to learn to better manage myself during THOSE times.

I’ve been working on finding that balance and have learned a few things about myself along the way.

1. I’ve learned that waking up early is GOOD. It’s so good for me. I feel better through the whole day just by giving myself the proper amount of sleep and waking up at a decent hour.

2. Scheduling is my friend. I do tend to go off schedule when I’m having one of those bursts of creative energy, but on a daily basis it’s helpful to schedule my days.

3. When in doubt clean out the email! My mind is as organized as my email. I take time each week to open, read and file away emails. That way I can focus on the most important projects.

4. Change of scenery…occasionally. Once a month or less, I pack up my laptop and find a coffee shop in town to work in. I’m not going to deny the perks of working from home,but working alone all day everyday can get tedious, even for an introvert. Changing the scene every once in a while really helps me recharge.


Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.


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New Home | Writing Day 11

12 tears old. A time of energy, growth and happiness. The previous age–11–was the exact opposite. New school, new home, no friends. At 11 I remember arriving early to school and not knowing where to go. Every single day. I remember science class, my new teacher turning to the news on September 11th, 2001 and watching my new classmates cry. I remember rushing to the computer after school, trying to find more information about the twin towers. 11 was a year of fear. 11 was a year of silence. 11 was the year my math teacher told me I was terrible.

But at 12, things were looking up.

I finally found friends. I was involved in clubs and projects and had settled into a new house. We didn’t stay there long.  We moved again soon after. But, like with all childhood memories, some moments stick out.

I remember sharing a room with all of my siblings. But I don’t remember it bothering me. My fondest memory is standing in front of the mirror in that room, with the fan blowing my hair and singing ‘I Could Not Ask For More’ into a hairbrush. I didn’t even like country music.

I remember discovering Hot Cheetos. I could eat bags of them. I’d get in trouble for doing that. I still pride myself on my love of spicy foods and sauces.

I remember one room in the house that was ‘under construction’ the entire time. The floors were original wood. So original that the floor still had a faint red pattern in the shape of a rug. It was painted there long ago. That was to be my room when it was finished. It never was. I didn’t complain.

I remember having a trampoline in the back yard. That was fun. But then I remember the time we were warned that it wasn’t a safe neighborhood. It became less fun after that.

I remember the dogwood tree in the front yard. We rarely went to the front yard. But in the springtime, it was beautiful.

I remember getting my first hair cut at 12. I remember going to the mall…not the mall in town with two stores and a Blue Cross in it; the mall in the ‘big’ city. I bought $300 worth of clothes and felt so guilty. I tried not to ever do that again. I kept those clothes separate from all my other ones. Neatly folded in a large shopping bag right by my bed.

At 12 I remember having late night adventures with friends. I remember the internet really started making sense. (I remember Neopets). I remember I was in enough advanced English and History clubs and school projects that I could get out of math class. I skipped most of math class actually. My new math teacher–the one who might have helped me enjoy math at 11 (before I had given up because I was “terrible”)–was too nice to fail me.

I remember packing up and moving away. I don’t remember protesting. I don’t remember being sad about leaving my new found friends. I just remember starting over at 13; new town, new house, no friends. But I was less silent and more ready this time around.


Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old? Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences.

I know I’m showing my age with this post and I know it’s most likely considered ‘young!’: 9/11, the brand new snack Hot Cheetos, the Internet had chat rooms and games….

Oh and in other news: don’t be a jerk to kids. That shapes their future. I tried really hard at math, but still struggled and that teacher basically gave me an excuse to just give up completely.


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Creating Home Movies | #TexansAbroad

I took a break from writing assignments this week to focus on work and video editing. I’ve been doing a lot of editing. Most of my videos are for work, but I finally got around to editing some of our ‘home movies’. I hope to make one of these short videos every time we travel somewhere new!

Creating these home videos has been an interesting process; seeing how the flow of a movie turns out. I’m not a pro at all, and don’t have a great quality camera, so I wanted my videos to have that imperfect quality about them. Of course, I do hope to get better with my edits, but I accidentally created a messy style and fell in love. I thought I’d write about it to explain my viewpoint.


I love how the beginning clips start with the actual audio from the video. It eventually fades into music, but I think I set a certain tone to the entire movie by opening with original audio.

Another ‘trick’ at the beginning is doing something ‘imperfect’. For instance, my video in Scotland starts with me uncovering the lens. I forgot to open the lens cover before I started recording. The other is me zooming into a shot of the river and you can hear that metallic zooming noise. I actually really love this.

All throughout the videos the footage is shaky with several moments of spinning or quickly moving the camera down. That wasn’t intentional, it was just me walking or moving the camera right before I turned it off. But, I use those moments to transition scenes which gives it a cool effect.

I hope to get at least a couple of shots of us in each video. I think it adds personalization.

The music has been the greatest discovery.. While searching for free music to use in the background, I stumbled across so much awesome video game inspired music. I think it would be a cool little ‘easter egg’ (to use video game lingo) to use music in each video that was inspired by video game music. I’m really excited about this! Each song will be given credit and a link to the artist so that their work can be shared with others. My husband was really happy when I used Chrono Trigger inspired music in the Scotland home movie.

And because I’m talking about traveling movies, I made this video while we were road tripping through the southern states of the US August 2014. We visited so many places and most of the footage was of us driving, so I decided to make the movie more about the journey rather than the destination.