[Resolution] #31 Visit an Abandoned Place

Abandoned House

There’s just something about these places, abandoned places. Forgotten, left alone for years yet still standing, frozen in time and simultaneously being eroded by it. It’s tragic and beautiful, frightening yet alluring. So, when I found out about an abandoned victorian mansion in a small town nearby, I couldn’t resist; I had to see it for myself.

Three friends and I piled into a car in the dead of night and traveled an hour and a half into the middle of a small Texas town (omitting the name for the hope of protecting the house from vandals or the like), and there, right on one of the main roads stood this amazing old home.  (A special shout-out to my beautiful friend Jasmine who found it and orchestrated the whole trip.) It’s something straight out of a horror movie, I tell you, which, in the case of us four lovers of horror movies and all things dark and macabre, is something more along the lines of a giant work of art.

I don’t know about them, but as we came up on this property my mind exploded with thoughts of beautifully aged rooms filled with history, a tribute to a lifetime that had long passed still standing and ready to be explored by those willing to step inside and find it. Something like this…?

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But, unfortunately the world does not have the same reverence for abandoned history as some. Some people, say, people who simply need shelter, or a dumping ground, will stumble upon places like these and use them for what they are…an empty space to occupy.

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Originally I didn’t expect to see anything but the outside of this house, maybe get a peek inside a window if I was lucky. But, our luck ended up being that nothing really stood between us and the inside of this house. We were expecting some sort of protection. A locked gate? Boards over the entry-way? There wasn’t even a “No Trespassing” sign to be found.

This meant that it was extraordinarily easy for us to get inside for a look around (which is good, because I chicken out really easily with things like this), but it also meant it was extraordinarily easy for squaters to occupy the place for the many years it was abandoned.

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Luckily, although the house has been used as a dumping ground and many of the belongings of the previous owners had been scattered about, it seemed that much was still left there to explore.

It was not a glamorous task. We had to trudge through thousands of empty soda bottles, cases worth of crushed beer cans, various food containers and even stumbled upon an open suitcase that had been used as a ‘toilet’ for quite some time. But, when you looked past all of the trash and possibly hazardous material, what stood before us was a snapshot of someone else’s life, left behind long after they were gone. I’d love to know who these people were and what happened to them, honestly, but I didn’t think to find anything to help me trace them.

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Bedrooms with draperies and clothes still hanging on racks.

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Books still on shelves,

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and tons of beautiful old architecture, still intact, like the skylight in the upstairs living area.

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After the adrenaline finally wore off, we had a wonderful time looking through the things that were still there. Books that had been published all the way back in 1910. Newspapers, still readable, from 1975 (the front page story was about a woman being promoted to Cashier. Woo!). Old records. Racks and racks of now vintage clothing. Hat boxes and trunks. We even found old suitcases filled with hand written letters and a collection of old valentines (chocolate boxes with the wrappers still inside).

It was truly fascinating. I found myself feeling, in a way, privileged, to be able to look into someone’s life like this after they were gone. I was reluctant to remove anything from the home, but part of me kind of wants to go back and ask permission to clean it out. There is so much history inside, so many things that were probably once cherished. Don’t they deserve to be cherished again, put on display somewhere rather than be surrounded by garbage and human filth?

Question of the Day: Would you rescue history from an old abandoned home, or should it be left where it is despite its former owners being gone?

It was an eye opening experience, and a perfect first big adventure for the year. :) We even got this inspiring shot of this defiant little plant managing to grow in the dark sub-floor of this forgotten place.

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I think this plant will be my role model for the year. I’m really impressed with its gusto.

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Photography by the aforementioned beautiful friend Jasmine. 

Happy New Year, Wake Up Ami is Back!

2014 is Going to be Better

Like many people, my 2013 was a roller coaster, and I’m not talking about the fun “that was fun, let’s do it again” thrill ride kind. I’m talking about something more akin to a runaway mine car plunging into dark tunnels full of jagged rocks and scary mine creatures.

Speaking of tracks, I know that some of you may have noticed that I most definitely fell off track on my resolution list for last year.

2013 was a year of big changes in my life, serious transformations occurred in almost all aspects: social, mental, physical, financial and more. What occurred in my life last year was far more than I could have ever put down in a list for myself, and thus, a few months in I decided to see where the year would take me instead of working off of a list. While goals are great, sometimes it’s just best to go with the flow and see where life takes you.

That being said, though, by the end of the year that seemingly endless roller coaster finally started to slow and delivered me to a far more stable (and happy!) place, and on the eve of the new year I decided…I think I’ll celebrate the feat of making it through 2013 alive with a 2014 full of fun and excitement.

I’m back, and more awake than ever. Here’s the resolution list for 2014. Happy New Year!

1. Paint a painting–without brushes
2. Find treasure in a geocache
3. Get some fancy pajamas
4. Invest
5. Go camping
6. Fund a Kickstarter campaign
7. Stay in a hostel
8. Grow and eat my own vegetables
7. Redecorate or paint a room
8. Write a short story
9. Host a holiday dinner at my place
10. Pay for the person behind me in line
11. Pull a prank
12. Start a YouTube channel
13. Sing karaoke
14. Finish P90X
15. Plant a tree
16. Watch an eclipse
17. Make my own costume for faire / a con
18. Learn how to do make-up…well
19. Get a hammock
20. Marathon an awesome movie series (Star Wars, LOTR, James Bond)
21. Fill up a Moleskine
22. Create a sculpture
23. Crash a party
24. Go a week without social media
25. Cook dinner over an open fire
26. Go sledding
27. Learn something from my mom
28. Make a short film
29. Participate in an open mic night
30. Go ghost hunting in a haunted place
31. Visit an abandoned place
32. Learn another language
33. Drive to another state
34. Go out and take photos of beautiful strangers
35. Tell 50 people how they’ve positively affected my life
36. Get a prison pen pal
37. Make art out of something old
38. Go through my high school journals and see how I’ve changed
39. Do something that feels like flying (sky dive, bungee jump, zip line)
40. Build a cat tree
41. Shop for a week’s groceries using only the farmer’s market
42. Try arco yoga
43. Go see a band I love in another city
44. Win something on the radio
45. Go to Burning Man/Flipside
46. Play in a MTG draft
47. Pay off at least one credit card
48. Travel somewhere by train
49. Create self-portrait every month
50. Create a meditation area
51. Take my nephew out for a day of fun
52. Take my family out to dinner and pay the bill
53. Visit an old teacher
54. Make my own infused alcohol
55. Drastically change my hair
56. Buy a wig
57. Do the 21-day meditation challenge
58. Throw a Gatsby party
59. Write a letter to my future self
60. Learn to play a song on guitar
61. Touch a wild animal
62. Have a tea party
63. Take a foreign cooking class
64. Face a fear
65. Find a good hangout spot
66. Celebrate a non-american holiday
67. Start a tradition
68. Do something to help organize my life
69. Fix my car…before it breaks
70. Do something I remember doing as a kid
71. Hand-make a gift for someone’s birthday or a holiday
72. Get new glasses
73. Find another way to get around short distances
74. Go to a city during an event it’s known for (i.e. Mardis Gras in New Orléans)
75. Learn to read tarot cards without a guide-book
76. Go on a night hike at Wild Basin
77. Learn to drive a motorcycle
78. Start going to local coffee shops instead of Starbucks
79. Take a class at a community college
80. Take a trip into the country
81. Find an interesting opportunity on Craigslist
82. Go a week without make-up
83. Explore a very old or big library
84. Go to a religious service for a religion I don’t know much about
85. Cook a delicious vegan meal
86. Play an indie game
87. Reach out to someone I admire
88. Write an article for a website or publication I like
89. Try a water sport
90. Play tennis
91. Go yard sale hopping on a Saturday morning
92. Go tour a really expensive apt/condo or home that I can not afford
93. Personalize my desk at work
94. Go somewhere I learned about on TV (travel channel, discovery, food network)
95. Make a scrapbook for the year by printing iPhone and FB pictures
96. Read a classic novel
97. Create a wish tree in a park
98. Get a Groupon for something I’ve never done, and do it
99. Go to a sporting event
100. Do charity work on a holiday
101. Do something recommended to me by someone else

Resolutions in Instagram: #20 & #59 New State, Old Friends

I love surprises. But, I’m generally pretty terrible at executing them because I’m generally pretty terrible at keeping secrets. I finally pulled one off, though, with the help of a brilliant surprise-executing friend. My good friends Jake and Jenn moved away from good ‘ol Austin about 9 months ago and–like all long distance relationships–we miss each other terribly.

I wish I could claim the idea was entirely mine, but Jake threw out the idea that as a birthday gift for Jenn’s milestone 30th birthday, I could fly in to visit and bring a little piece of Austin to her in good ‘ol Indiana. So, somehow…some way..and thanks to some brilliant misdirection on Jake’s part, I managed to completely surprise her!

Resolution #26 / #59 : Visit a Friend in Another State & Visit a New US State

(Evidently she thought family was coming over. Surprise!)

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know the first thing about Indiana. I didn’t know what was there, other than the Indy 500, and I was only vaguely familiar with where it is geographically (don’t judge me). Turns out that there’s a whole lot of farm land, but also a lot of really fun places to explore…

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…even when it’s 25 degrees outside. That’s like a tourist attraction in itself. If you were able to swipe that picture of an iPhone screen you’d be able to see that at the very same moment it was a pleasant 73 degrees in Austin, TX. Cold weather does two things for me, makes me really happy first of all, because you rarely experience real cold in Austin, but also makes me really appreciate the Texas heat, which is really hard to appreciate most of the time.

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We explored some little shops downtown where I got my obligatory coffee mug for my collection. I get one from every place I go, and they generally have no obvious connection to the place I was–except for that I remember getting it there. This is my newest addition, the Tea-Rex. It came from a quirky little store called Silver in the City, which also has an online store if you’d like to peruse their quirky goods. It’s on MassAve which is apparently the slightly condensed Indianapolis equivalent of Austin’s SoCo. It was also home to a toy store that I really wish I would have known about as a child because I’d have insisted that my mom fly me to Indiana to visit it…and purchase one of everything. Plus, a whole bunch of little boutiques that I only wish I’d had more time to explore.

544464_10151554694211635_2536704_nIt was also pleasant to discover that the good people of Indianapolis have your self-esteem in mind. Not only are the people extremely friendly, but even the buildings are proud to announce to the world that you are–indeed–a beautiful person. Thanks Indy.

image (3)Next, we made a day trip to Nashville in the famous (is it famous? I’m not sure.) Brown County, a small tourist town about an hour or so away from Indianapolis. This photo has almost nothing to do with Nashville, Indiana except for that that’s where it’s taken, but you’ll see here that one of the many reasons that one should pay a visit to the little town is that it is home to a very responsible generation of children, who apparently lock up their tricycles.

In all seriousness, though, we went specifically to sample the fried biscuits and apple butter at the Nashville House Restaurant connected to the Brown County Inn. This is one of those culinary delights that I can confidently say is WORTH the drive, which is actually a really nice one through plenty of hills and tall tress, a huge difference from the flatlands of nearby Indianapolis. You don’t even have to order real food. An order of those biscuits and apple butter will keep you going all morning.

It wasn’t just about the biscuits, though. I’m not sure what exactly I can compare this town too, other than Gruene, TX if anyone knows where that is. It’s like stepping back in time where all of the shops are mom-and-pop shops, all of the products are made locally (okay, ALMOST), for some reason everyone sells fudge no matter what kind of shop it is and you get to try everything before you buy it.

The only dead giveaway was that I don’t know if they used the term “Big Ass Cookie” back in the day.

photo (8)But, hey, “big ass” sells. Got to get up with the times, eh?  I might suggest that they create a set of signs for their “Damn Good” coffee too.

Next, I got to meet the Tea Rex’s cousin at the world’s largest children’s museum.

image (4)Guy really should start watching where he’s going.  …First of all, having a dinosaur step on your foot is less than pleasant, but I’m okay. That building, however, yeah, that’s going to cost a pretty penny.

This museum should be on the list of things every child needs to see before they get too old to appreciate it, like Disney World and Sesame Street Live. I’m not a kid anymore, but the child in my heart leaped at the sight of 5 stories of pure, educational discovery. …Does that make me a nerd?

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The must see thing here is the giant carousel on the 4th level which was our first stop. I’d forgotten how magical those things are. I almost even made the mistake of telling Jake and Jenn that I would simply watch, but I boarded anyway and there’s just something special about that classical organ music and glossy plastic animals that makes your heart happy.

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I also got to look like a badass building a free standing arch with the unbelievable powers of physics, visit the real Batman suite and Riddler costumes from the Batman movies, drool over real life, giant Hot Wheels and poke around in Egypt for a minute or two. Again, I’m going to have to go back with more time because the entire thing is IMMENSE and couldn’t possibly be explored in one trip.

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So, I got me some space food for the road and we headed back to the house. I’m not sure I could be an astronaut after eating this, but for all the science that goes into putting cold dairy desserts below -40 degrees farenheit and drying it to make it shelf stable, this stuff was really good. But, the real food adventure was not anti-frozen ice cream.  It was this… the last new experience in Indianapolis was a doozy…and frankly had nothing to do with Indianapolis, but I have a long standing record of ridiculous and potentially disgusting food challenges with Jake. And so….

9208c3b69f1c11e2bc0822000a1f9737_7Canned…Haggis.  Do you guys even know what is in this stuff? Lungs…heart…EYES.  It was perfect. So, we spent the evening eating warm haggis on mini ritz crackers and enjoying each other’s company, before I finally had to say my goodbyes and head home. Do I recommend haggis?  You know…it’s not that bad, but better enjoyed with an adventurous friend.

I love visiting new places, but this whole trip just taught me that new adventures are fun, but new adventures with old friends are priceless. Thanks again, Jake and Jenn! I’ll be back soon.

Giveaway! Celebrating Wanderlust

For over a year now I’ve been embracing my wanderlust and inner adventurer here in my blog. I thought it was about time to celebrate the adventurer in all of you too! So today I’m giving away a couple of items I found in Etsy shops that also embrace wanderlust.

First, this beautiful aluminum cuff by Grey Elephant Jewelry.

il_570xN.393593807_ffbfThis piece was designed by Kelley Delaney who has a whole collection of inspiring pieces. Here’s a little more about her:

“Hi, there! I’m Kelley, the girl behind Grey Elephant Jewelry! GEJ opened in 2011 and provides simple, timeless pieces that are inspired by my own wanderlust & quotes that mean something to me. I do custom orders like they’re going out of style and am constantly amazed and inspired by the ideas of my customers. Jewelry making is therapeutic and forces you to think creatively. I’m grateful every day to call this my job!”

The second thing I’m giving away is this small leather bound journal from in blue. It reads “Not all who wander are lost.”

il_570xN.277777691Here’s a bit about the creator of this journal, Mary Lynn Schroeder:

“My name is Mary Lynn, I came from a small farm in Southern Illinois to the beautiful city of Asheville, North Carolina. I cut, sew, and print leather every single day… I am most excited by color and texture, along with the reckless abandonment of the thimble.”

Thanks to these two lovely ladies for creating such great pieces that celebrate the spirit of adventure.

Now to the good stuff, what do you have to do to win? Just comment below and tell me what your most recent big adventure was. Don’t forget to include your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win!

Then, for a few bonus entry opportunities, you can do the following:

  • 1 entry for liking my facebook page
  • 1 entry for following me on twitter: @heywakeupami
  • 1 entry for tweeting a link to the giveaway (don’t forget to tweet at me, @heywakeupami, so I can see!)
  • 1 entry for sharing to your facebook page

Sharing links are at the bottom of the post to make it easy. To earn these, just mention in your comment which of them you completed. No cheating, I’ll check ya! ;)

The giveaway will close for entries at 12 p.m. CST on Friday, March 22nd.

Thank you to all my readers for coming along with me on all of my adventures. I can’t wait to hear about yours.

<3 Ami

Resolution #31 & #9: Learn or Create a New Craft + Something I Can Wear and Oreos on Steroids

Let me tell you a secret.

I’m half grandma.

I already had my suspicions when I learned that I loved baking from scratch, scrapbooking and starting sentences with “Back in my day.” But, now… I also crochet.  It’s official. I’m a grandma minus the age and the grandchildren part.

Before I get all excited about needle craft, let’s talk about this baking from scratch thing, because I had a girls night the other night and was introduced to the most glorious creation I think has ever come from an oven.  These:

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Can you see that? Oreos. Peanut butter. Brownie. Now go ahead and try to think of something more brilliant and amazing. You can’t, I know. So, since I had to forego alcoholic libations at this girls get-together because of a medical study I’m participating in (more on that later), my night was full of…these.  In fact, I didn’t feel like I was missing a thing.  Of course, like any attempt on anything I’ve ever made that looks beautiful on a food blog, ours came out ugly. No, really. Really ugly.

Our Version

Note the ones in the pan that have fallen apart, oozed peanut butter, or otherwise. But, hey, they all just get chewed up anyway and they were to die for, so what’s it matter?  You want to make these at home, you say?  Well it’s easy.

Just grab a pack of Oreos, a jar of peanut butter, and a box of brownie mix (confession time: there is nothing ‘scratch’ about these). Dig out a muffin tin. Then either line it with papers or go heavy on the Pam, we did the latter and they still stuck a bit but it was okay.

Then, proceed thusly: Oreo, peanut butter on top of Oreo, another Oreo, more peanut butter on top, drop into muffin tin, cover in brownie batter.  Repeat x12. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Voila!  You’ll thank me later. Also, if you try this at home, send me your pictures? I want to see if anyone can make them as pretty as the picture perfect food blogger original. Go on, try it.

Anyway, on to the crafting. I’ve been doing this medical study for the last couple of weeks to fulfill resolution #40: Pay off at least one credit card. But, here’s the thing about medical studies: They are BORING. And you can’t do ANYTHING. No exercise, no snacking, no leaving the building. Basically, you are left to whatever entertainment you can fit in a suitcase and of course, whatever companionship you find with other subjects. So, week one I was pretty content with Netflix, mindless social media and catching up on work and writing. By the end of the week, though, my eyes were aching from screen time and if I saw one more hashtag I swear I’d have lost it.

I did notice a woman while I was in there who seemed perfectly content with a ball of yarn and a crochet hook. Why didn’t I think of that? So, as soon as they set us free for a few days I high-tailed it straight to the craft store (okay, I went and got pancakes first, because there isn’t real food in there either), picked up some yarn and a hook and set to google to teach myself how to create something wearable.

I got a little ambitious and wanted to try for this, for my roomates’ new baby:

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But then I started reading through the pattern and seeing abbreviations I didn’t know and realizing I should probably start small so I settled for…these:

photo (3)Those are mine!  I made those!  Essentially it’s a tube with thumb holes, but I call it… A GLOVE. Resolutions accomplished!

I even had enough yarn to make another pair and Dru thought they were so warm-looking and fashionable that he wanted some too. Grandma powers activate!  (I think that face means he’s happy, but I can’t be sure.)

Gloves

If you’re interested in some of your own, check out http://crochet.about.com/. I learned everything I had to know there and found the pattern for these gloves. It even came with patterns for a matching hat and scarf, but we’ll see about that. I’m now on the path to learning how to make elf hats. …What, you thought I’d be making average stuff? No way. Elf hats. Then maybe I’ll revisit the sock monkeys once I get some experience under my belt.