The Golden Lake Days of Childhood

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fruit kabobs and baked beans.

Those are the two things I think of first when I recall my favorite summer days spent at my grandparent's lake house. There was something so novel to me about sliced watermelon, cantaloupe, and strawberries put on a stick. Sometimes my mom would even cut up small slices of kiwi, which absolutely blew my mind because it was kiwi!

I’d get mad when she’d put grapes on the skewer. Normally I loved grapes, but they weren’t fancy enough for a kabob.

My Grandma Pat's baked beans were pure heaven; a meat medley of bacon, ham, and sausage with honey glazed beans throughout. A treat she only made for summer parties at the lake.

We’d pack the cooler and drive the five miles outside of town to “Andy’s Lake.” I’d insist every time my mom point out which cabin belonged to the infamous, “Andy,” a person whom I imagined was the richest man ever to have an entire lake named after him!

My dad would usually join us a few hours later. He always had to stay home and do “lawn work,” he said. Years later, I think “lawn work” meant having a few beers alone before heading to the day-long lake party at the in-laws.

I can still hear the way the gravel would crunch under my mom’s blue Nissan Stanza as we made the turn toward my grandparent's house; the lake on one side, the Elkhorn river on the other. I saw a newspaper article once about a car accidentally driving into that river and it haunted me forever. Every time we made that curve I had to focus on the lake, fearful my mom might accidentally lose control on the gravel, sending us straight into a snake infested watery death.

I was always anxious to finally pull into the driveway because the first grandkids to arrive got their pick at the best lifejackets from the small white shed out front. No one wanted to get stuck with the enormous 1970s yellow foam jackets. I’ve never worn a koozie before, but I imagine it would be similar. I can only assume my grandparents kept those 70s monstrosities around just to punish the latecomers.

After claiming our lifejackets we’d rush the water to claim the next prizes the lake held for us, the huge yellow circular raft, the tire swing, dibs on the first tube ride!

On a humid Midwest summer day, where a simple ten minute car ride could have you sweating through your shirt, there wasn’t a better feeling than that first sprint toward the lake. Heaving yourself off the dock as far as possible, legs tucked into your arms, screaming “CANON BALL!” Free falling until you were swallowed up by the cold crisp water, a quick rush of fear as the darkness fell over you, holding you just long enough before it was time to bob back up toward the surface.

As the cousins arrived the water competitions began. Who could jump off the dock the furthest? Do a flip. A cartwheel. Stay under water the longest. We’d do anything we could to entertain ourselves while we waited for grandpa to get the “boat ready.”

I had no idea what this entailed back then, and to be honest, I still don’t know. Why wasn’t it already ready? It was in the water. It had fuel. I swear you could smell the tangy scent of boat gas that dripped from my grandpa's brown speedboat from our house in town, five miles away.

It was a smell I loved.

All that I knew was that we weren’t supposed to bug Grandpa Dick while he “got it ready.” He’d tinker on the boat canopy, or the lift it was on, for what felt like hours, while all of us grandkids sat on the dock and watched, our feet dangling off the edge in the water, daring crappie fish to nibble on our toes.

When we were just about to give up, he’d pull the brown boat out of its holding cell, cigar in mouth, and announce it was time! And with the summer sunlight bouncing off the dark water, reflecting back onto the boat, the sides of that brown 80s speedboat absolutely glistened. I remember thinking it actually had a coat of glitter on it when the light was just right.

Then two at a time, seated in a pink inner tube with a thin black lining on the bottom, Grandpa Dick would pull us around the small lake, circle after circle. We’d scream for our lives, and hang onto the handles until our knuckles were white, our small bodies tossed about when he’d purposely hit the big waves, or take a turn too sharp.

SLOW DOWN! I’d shout, desperately giving the universal thumbs down signal.

What’d she say? My grandpa would ask.

Speed up, they want to go faster, my brother would always respond.

Eventually our luck would wear out and the tube would hit a wave at the perfect spot and it would send us flying in the air, skidding across the top of the water like a pair of skipped rocks.

Sometimes tears were shed, sometimes they weren’t. We all knew that the worse the wipeout, the better story to tell the following summer.

When my turn was over and I’d take my seat back on the boat, wrapped in a towel most likely stolen from the local pool, my arms would throb from holding on so tightly. Goosebumps would travel down my legs as my wet cold hair blew in the wind as the boat picked up speed.  But I didn’t care. I was in my summer element.

Now it was the boy cousins’ turn around the lake.

Go faster, Grandpa. A lot faster! I’d lie as I watched with a smirk on my face as my brother was in the same fearful misery I was just in.

After everyone had their turn, or when grandpa was tired of driving the boat (whichever came first) we’d head back to shore.

My Grandma Pat would be standing on the slope of their yard, in her floral mumu and slip-on mules, with one hand on her hip, the other on her forehead shading herself from the sun trying to see the boat pull in. The look on her face usually somewhere  between a frown and smile.

“Time to eat.” She’d proclaim. “But first, I want my picture.

Grandma’s picture was the same every year. She’d insist all of the grandchildren line up from youngest to oldest. We knew not to fight it or our name would be, “M.U.D.” It always had to be grandma’s way or the highway.

I don’t ever recall my grandma actually saying a real curse word other than her beloved “M.U.D.” (always spelled out as if were in fact an actual naughty word,) but she didn’t have to, because she could throw a scowl that would make anyone back down.

After the photo, the adults would set out the food dishes they’d brought in the screened-porch area. I’d go straight for the kabobs and baked beans.

“Taylor, quit picking out all the meat!” Grandma would bark as she’d slap my hand away. I’d immediately stop. Until she wasn’t looking, at which point I went right back to scooping out the bacon and the ham.

I’d always sneak inside and ask to use two plates because I hated when my beans and fruit touched. But Grandma Pat didn’t stand for such nonsense, “It all goes to the same place, anyway. Now get back outside, you’re getting my carpet all wet.”

And so all of the kids would sit outside on our miniature lawn chairs, plates in our laps, as we ate our food as fast as our stomachs would allow, anxious to get back in the water.

For the next few hours we’d play until our hands were pruney, our backs and shoulders were crisp with sun heat, and our exhaustion levels hit the point of picking fights with each other just because we could.

As daylight disappeared the water seemed to grow annoyed with us and would suddenly turn cold, not so subtlety telling us it was time to get out. We’d stagger up the slimey water steps, desperately looking for any dry towel that remained to wrap around our shivering bodies.

The canopy on the boat lift would wave toward the brown beauty, announcing it was time to return to its bunk for the evening.

And just before the sun disappeared for good, it would make one final stretch over the water, as if signaling to us with a silent, “see ya later!”

As with all good things in life, the golden days at my Grandparent's lake house would end sooner than I would have expected. The lake home was sold, relatives moved away, such is the way life unfolds.

I sometimes wonder if there was a sneaking feeling inside all of us that knew the home at Andy's Lake wouldn't be around forever, because I really feel like we did our best to make the most of those days.

Or maybe that’s just my rose colored mumu speaking. I guess I'll never really know.

Several years after the home was sold, my grandma passed away on a hot July day.

She now sits in a brown bean pot, on a bookshelf at my parent's house.

And if you think that I'm just taking this time to make an oddly inappropriate dark joke, I assure you I'm not. That's what she wanted.

And it was Grandma's way or the highway.

Family Vacation Banter

Part 1- Harry Caray's.

"Bad news," my mom texts me as I'm riding in my uber to join the rest of my family at Midway Airport last week, en route to our vacay in North Carolina.

Oh shit, I think. Jade's appendix burst again? Knox threw up in the middle of Midway (he's done this.) Lola forgot her Polly Pockets. What could it be?

"Harry Caray's is closed! Dad is pissed. It's now a White Sox bar," my mom texts again.

My parents LOVE Midway Harry Caray's. Who doesn't though, to be honest.

"So where are you waiting then?" I text back.

"Harry Caray's."

"But I thought?"

"The new one. Not called Harry Caray's. White Sox Inn? We ordered you a Bloody. "

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Wolfe family vacation 2017.

A mere twenty minutes later, I zoom through security and join my parents in Not Harry Caray's.

"Can you believe this?!" My dad says when I first walk in and find them sitting at the back table. "There's not even photos on the wall anymore. Not one!"

"Why would they do this?" My mom chimes in.

"And to think we were just here last week and everything seemed completely normal," my dad says as if he's reminiscing about an old friend, rather than an airport restaurant/bar.

One in the same, I suppose.

My sister sits between Knox and Lola, reminding Knox his screen time will be limited. He's not happy about this.  Lola is playing Polly Pockets.

The bloodys at Not Harry Caray's are $17. The server sets them down just as I walk in and they appear to be only tomato juice and vodka. Not a single garnish. This won't go over well.

"We're out of pickles, celery, and olives," the server says, sensing our disappointment with the meager $17 bland beverage, "so the bloodys will only be $8 today."

She asks if we want food and my mom says, "just an order of fried pickles."

"We're out of those too."

So we don't order any food.

The server walks away and my dad says, "This would have never happened at Harry Caray's."

We all can't help but nod in agreement.

Little do we know Harry Caray's is just the tip of the iceberg. When we walk further into the airport we'll see that Potbelly is gone, as well. If Nuts On Clark has been kicked out and my mom can't get her airport popcorn the trip will be called off right then and there.

Luckily, Nuts On Clark has survived the restaurant exodus at Midway. For NOW!

Family vacay can go on.

Part II- "This Place Reminds Me of Cape Fear, the movie."

It was a two hour flight to Raleigh, in which Harry Caray's is discussed for the majority of it, as well as our speculation as to which restaurants will go next and have all new employees been brought in?

"I've bought popcorn from the same nice woman at Clarks for years. YEARS! And she's no longer there," my mom insists. "It's a shame."

"Maybe today's her day I off?" I suggest.

"Nope. No way. She's gone."

"And I bet they're paying the new employees a lot less," my dad adds. "I just can't believe Harry Caray's is gone."

We all agree.

After a quick stop in Raleigh to see my brother's new home, we make the two hour trek to Wilmington. Upon entering the scenic coastal town we begin seeing billboards about "Cape Fear Seafood" and "Cape Fear Banking" and "Cape Fear blah blah blah."

"Oh Cape Fear! What a good movie!" My sister says.

"Yes! So good!" My mom responds.

"I don't think I've seen that one, but I've heard of it," I say, wishing I'd seen it, knowing the numerous discussions that are about to ensue.

"With Robert De Niro!"

"And he comes after the daughter."

"Nope, I haven't seen it," I say to my mom and sister, who are both in total shock I haven't seen this 90s thriller.

We get to our house near Wrightswood Beach and it's gorgeous. It's exactly what I'd imagine a North Carolina home near the water would look like. My dad, who rode in my brother's car, gets out of the car and immediately says, "This place is exactly like Cape Fear! The movie!"

"I haven't seen it."

"With Robert De Niro! And the daughter! You sure?"

"Yup," I say, once again to everyone's disappointment.

"You gotta watch it. It's so good."

Our home on the inside is even cuter than the outside.

When we arrive it's pretty grey and rainy, so we decide to go and get groceries as everyone is supposed to make dinner for the house one night.

The storm moves in just as my parents are making the dinner they chose for the evening and the kitchen lights start to flicker.

"Oh yeah, this is just like Cape Fear. The movie," my dad says excitedly.

We all agree.

Part III- The Tide Really DOES Change!

coming soon.

A Peak Onto Our Rooftop

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

In a surprising turn of events, I woke up feeling energized and excited about today.

I say "surprising" because typically the day after a long weekend/vacay I can barely move for a few hours. Yet, for some reason I jumped out of bed before 6:30 a.m. and was at the park with Har by 6:35 a.m. I can only attribute this odd behaviour to the fact I officially have that summer feeling.

And it feels so. damn. good.

It's that feeling when you want to stay up late and get up early. Be outside as much as possible. Do things you might not normally do, like sit on your stoop with a book, or lay in the park with your pup. After months of hibernation, Chicago is awake and the energy is infectious!

So last night, after a day of walking the neighborhood, eating tacos at Big Star, and buying Harlow a pool for our rooftop... Chris and I decided to tackle our usually boring Sunday night (now Monday night) emails from the comfort of our deck.

Our twinkly lights were on, a light breeze was felt, and a few glasses of wine were had.

It was so so nice. Summertime in Chicago always seems too good to be true. Simply walking out your front door and not being slapped with cold air almost feels like a fairytale.

"You mean we have at least four months of not being afraid to go outside?! For real? No time to waste then, let's do EVERYTHING."

That seems to be the mentality for most Chicago people in the summer. Every patio is packed, the beaches are full, and boats are everywhere up and down the river and on the lake. Like I said, it's pretty amazing.

Speaking of, this week (or next) I'll be doing a summertime guide to Chicago. If you're planning a vacay here, let me know anything specific you'd like me to include!

Chris and I typically tend to seek out patios, the beach, or rooftops. This is our first summer with our very own private rooftop area and we are VERY excited about it.

Pretty much everything you see is from Hayneedle because their outdoor furniture is amazing and so is their customer service. You've probably heard me talk about this company a lot, but that's because I seriously love all of their stuff. (It's also where so many of our indoor rugs come from, like this runner I get frequent emails about.)

I basically live in this egg chair right now... And guess what? I'm partnering with Hayneedle and actually giving one away tonight on my Instagram @thedailytay, so check it out later if you'd also like to live in your very own egg chair.

Vintage string lights found here and solar lighted umbrella found here.

And that's a peak onto our rooftop. Not pictured: small swimming pool for Harlow (he insisted.) What are some of your favorite outdoor pieces?

Posts to come this week:

*Chicago Summer Guide.
*Unsolicited Advice For Brides-To-Be, (a list of things I wanted to skip out on, but am glad I didn't.)
*Memorial Weekend in North Carolina. (so. many. pics.)
*Changes in T-Shirt Town (exciting things happening!)

That list is more for me than you, (I have a feeling staying on task this week may be difficult.)

Happy Tuesday. Happy Summer. Happy everything! Stay present or it will be Fourth of July before you know it!

When I Thought The World Was Going To End

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This past Sunday (May 21st) was Harold Camping Day. If you don't know what this means a. you're not crazy. And B. you're not crazy.

Don't worry, Crazy Pants over here will fill you in. But first we have to go back six years ago to May 20th, 2011.

Chris and I are living in Topeka, Kansas. We have a crazy puppy named Harlow who runs zoomies around the house and never settles down because his energy level is at an eleven all. day. long.

We live in small white house two blocks away from Westboro Baptist Church. We had a nice three bedroom apartment just a month previous, but were randomly evicted and had to leave immediately due to a crazy puppy named Harlow... And yes, I fed Harlow when he was a puppy. But when you run a total of 100 miles every day all over the house, your ribs will show. He ate like a horse.

We don't love Topeka, so in less than a week we're moving to Chicago. I am so excited but so nervous. I've always wanted to live in Chicago so the fact it's actually happening makes me think it's too good to be true. Like the night before my family went to Disney World and my mom and brother disappeared for two hours and I was sure they'd gotten in a car accident and our trip would be ruined. (I had priorities.)

Turns out they were just having too much fun at Wal Mart. Per the usual.

But my fear in 2011 was real. So real in fact, I researched it every night. Knew every detail. Read every article. Watched every news clip.

Evangelist Harold Camping predicted that on May 21st, 2011 the "rapture" would take place, followed by the end of the world on October 21, 2011.

And I, Taylor Wolfe, believed there was a small chance he may actually be right.

Chris knew my fear, but he laughed it off thinking it was just another crazy "comedy bit" of mine. So I pretended I was "jokingly scared," as well. But in reality, I was scared.

I'm a pretty logical-ish person, so I'm not sure where this belief came from. Watching too many episodes of Doomsday Preppers on TV? Sure. Perhaps too many History Channel episodes focusing on the apocalypse. Maybe. Or was it being raised in the Catholic church? A place where I was frequently told it was not a matter of IF the rapture would happen, but WHEN. Da da dahhhhh. 

As a kid I remember seeing a bumper sticker on a car that read "WARNING: If rapture happens driver will be disappear." 

That shit stuck with me.

Now I wasn't just afraid of the rapture. I was afraid of car accidents, too. (see above paragraph about Disney.)

I said my own prayers every night as a kid, and I had a LONG list of worries I needed God to take care of, and I quickly added "please don't let the rapture happen to me or my cats. or any car accidents," to my list.

I figured my family was saying their own prayers about the rapture so they were good. But my cats? I couldn't be certain.

So I guess it does make a little sense why I was so terrified of this rapture as an adult.

On the night of May 20th, just a few days before I was set to start my "cool big city life" in Chicago, I wasn't sure what the next day would bring. I couldn't close my eyes I was so scared. But at some point I grew tired and eventually fell asleep (probably while saying Our Fathers and Hail Marys because you can leave the catholic church, but it won't leave you.)

And I'll never forget the joy of waking up on May 21st, 2011 to a world that was still intact.

I was alive! And with a whole new lease on life. The world was my oyster! It was as good as the day I got released from my six day MDS medical study I did in college. I felt free!

So every year on May 21st I remember Harold Camping day.

And I also remember I shouldn't believe when an evangelist christian radio broadcaster predicts the apocalypse will happen.

When was the last time you thought the world would end? Let me guess, Y2K?

Unsolicited Advice To New College Grads

A new batch of fresh faced college kids are entering the "real world" right now. I know because I heard a group of them talking about it at Starbucks yesterday. They're taking on internships, and traveling the world, and really planning to put their major to its specific use.

I was exhausted just listening to them, but also quite entertained. I love to hear what new college grads think of the real world. A few times I wanted to lean back in my chair and say, "listen here kiddos, I've got some knowledge to drop on you..." But I resisted because I was in my Monday tracksuit woman outfit (not really, but a little) and also because they might not have appreciated the fact I had been eavesdropping on their convo for the last hour.

But here's a bit of the unsolicited advice I'd like to give those new college grads.

The best years are not behind you. I repeat, you have a lot of "best years" ahead of you.

Don't believe people (or movies) when they say that tired phrase. I had a great time in college (too much fun sometimes) but I'm having an even better time now.

And no, I'm not saying I go to crazy house parties on the weekends (the thought of that actually makes me cringe now) instead I have fun doing things I couldn't do in college.

I travel more, eat better dinners, won't touch a bottle of Bartons. Or Skol. Or "Country Club" vodka. I don't know what country club that poison water comes from, but I'd certainly never belong there.

I have better relationships with the people that matter to me. I've let go of the ones that don't.

As for the first few years out of college (like what you're jumping into now) buckle up, it's going to be a rollercoaster. You'll have some of the highest highs, followed by the lowest lows.

My first years out of college were scary and confusing. I had constant breakdowns about feeling stuck in jobs that I absolutely hated.

Is this my life? Am I doomed to do this forever? I thought every morning as I got ready to go into a workplace that I couldn't stand.

The answer: no.

I think to a certain degree we all have to have those jobs we hate so we can figure out what we want to do.

The good thing about this time we're living in right now is that if you can't find a job like, you have the opportunity to create one.

Thanks to social media, small businesses and entrepreneurs have access to affordable advertising that can reach the masses like never before. Every morning I wake up and feel as if there's 100 different ways to grow my business. The hard part is simply choosing which one.

If you've lived in the same place your entire life, move somewhere new. I'm not saying it has to be forever, but moving to Chicago was one of the best things I did right after college.

Stop comparing yourself to the friends you've had forever. Chances are your paths were pretty similar the first twenty years; middle school, then high school, then college. But now you're at the time when things really start to change. Five years down the road your bestie may be married with three kids and you're living the single life. That's okay.  The only timeline you should be on is your own.

Try to put yourself in a new situation, surrounded by people you've never been around before.

Make yourself uncomfortable.

Do that thing that you can't stop thinking about, but makes your stomach drop when you actually imaging yourself doing it.

Once you do that first terrifying thing you'll want to do more things like that. And this is when you start to change a little bit as a person.

Take things day by day. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you first realize how big the world is outside of your college bubble.

And don't forget, everyone is just as scared and as uncertain as you are, some are just better at faking it.

One last thing, things never really "slow down," so stop waiting for that perfect moment to come around for whatever it is you want to do. That "perfect moment" doesn't exist, you have to create it.

College Grad Nine Years Removed

How To Turn 30

Monday, May 22, 2017

I turned 30 last week. It happened. I survived. And now I can't help but feel as if I'm an expert on turning 30. So please sit back and listen while I tell everyone exactly how to do it. 

For starters, my parents came to town just to celebrate with me. I mentioned in my last post my family likes garage sales, well we also like birthdays. We were raised to believe that our day of birth is a VERY BIG DEAL. My parents always went all out for my sister, brother and myself (and we all have May birthdays.)  I'm talking breakfast in bed, flowers and balloons sent to our school, pizza parties, new Dr. Martens, we were spoiled little SOBs. Sounds annoying, right? Our poor spouses. 

Anyway, it was only natural my parents came to Chicago simply to have birthday beers with me. 

And so the day went like this:

8:00 a.m. birthday photo shoot in the park.
What you can't see are the three homeless men who live in the park who really enjoyed watching this all happen. There was also a mom/baby playgroup going on whom weren't quite as amused as the homeless men. 

9:30 a.m.- brunch at Doves.
Doves is one of my favorite brunch spots in the city.

12:00 p.m.- shopping at Harlow's favorite stores.
(Nordstrom Rack, West Elm, Cb2.)

2:00 p.m.- tacos at Big Star.

3:00 p.m.- margaritas at the Robey rooftop pool. 
They're taking some liberties with the term "pool" here.

What you see behind us is the entirety of the "pool." Never the less, it's a fun atmosphere and I will be back to swim laps very soon.

My dad's favorite part of the rooftop however was seeing how many State Farm Insurance offices he could point out. Three. He found three.

4:00 p.m. head downtown to see Hamilton!

5:00 p.m. oysters and dirty martinis at GT Fish & Oyster.

7:00 p.m. HAMILTON time!

Is Hamilton worth the hype you may be wondering? Yes. Yes it is. If you get the chance, GO. It's an experience you don't want too miss.

*Unless you're my dad who slept through the entire second half*

10:30 p.m. - post Hamilton meal at Maudes. French fries and mussels.
When my dad is in "vacation mode" he pretty much lives off french fries and gin and tonics. When he's back home he eats like a rabbit, but on vacation he goes hard.

Midnight- back home for chocolate cake and a final champagne toast.

See guys, not a bad way to ring in thirty!

And now it's already May 22nd and Memorial weekend is a few days away. We're renting a house in the outer banks with my entire family and I'm so excited! I've never been before, so if you have suggestions, let me know!

Go tackle Monday, friends!

// Lemon dress found here. If you're looking for a fun new summer dress, this is my new favorite! (Runs small, I'm in an XS.) //

The Art of the Midwest Garage Sale

Friday, May 19, 2017

I come from a family who loves hosting garage sales. (That's me above.) I chose this photo because it just felt right.

At the start of every summer my mom would get this glimmer in her eye as she looked at the pile of junk that had stocked up in our garage over the winter, or at our summer clothes that no longer fit, old pots for plants that no longer served their purpose. And she'd announce, "We're going to host a garage sale this weekend!"

But she'd only say this to me and my siblings, never to my my dad, because he hated garage sales.

"I don't want people walking on my lawn, or running over my bushes!"

"They won't, we'll put up a folding chair in the driveway so they have to park on the street," my mom would respond.

And every single year, one of us kids would move that chair to sit in at some point during the day, and my dad's bushes would get smashed. The thought of it still makes me laugh, and I bet it still pisses him off.

Immediately after I'd learn of the garage sale announcement, I'd make a mad dash to my room to find clothes and toys to sell. I have always loved getting rid of stuff. Just typing this sentence gives me a small high and makes me want to go pull things from my closet.

My brother on the other hand, not so much. My brother got rid of nothing growing up. When he moved out of my parents house they actually found bottles of water in his closet, with dates written on them. As in he saved old Pepsi bottles, cleaned them out, filled them with bathroom tap water, and then felt the need to label the day (and time) he did such a monumental thing.

The days leading up to the garage sale my mom would place ads in the "Daily Shopper" detailing all of the goods we'd be selling.

"Name brand clothing! Pots for plants. Lamps! Lightly used bar stools. Toys! Brand new lotion! Plates! Business attire. Ornate stands. Picture frames. Patio furniture."

The night before we'd lug all of the folding tables and chairs we owned up from the basement and plan how to set them up in the garage.

"You mean I can't park my car in the garage tonight, Sandy? This is exactly why I didn't want you to do this!" -my dad would bark as soon as he saw the folding tables in the living room, anxious to take their place outside.

My mom couldn't care less though, she was in garage sale mode. And so was I.

We'd stay up all night marking things with colorful sticky tags. I'd tap my finger tips together delighting in all of the money I was about to make! And then I'd run up to my room to find more stuff to sell. Maybe I'd take a peak through my dad's closet too? He had a ton of suit jackets and ties I was pretty certain he didn't need.

And as a last stitch effort I'd search for any candy we had around the house in hopes of selling that, as well. Have I mentioned I've always loved running a business?

The morning of the sale I'd pop out of bed SO EXCITED. Today was the day. The day of the garage sale!

We'd hope for sun, but I only ever recall rain. We'd haul our "hot items" in and out of the garage all day long, depending on whether or not they'd get wet. "Nicer clothes" were hung from "racks" that usually consisted of an outdoor broom balanced across two ladders.

"Them ladders for sale? What about the broom?" We'd get asked several times throughout the day.

People attending garage sales naturally assume everything in sight is for sale. Literally everything.

And if you've ever ran your own sale, you know that when your sign says it starts at 8:00 a.m., you'll get lurkers around 7:30 a.m. These are the professionals hoping to get a glance of the goods before everything is picked over.

They stroll up your driveway with their hands in their jean jacket pockets, as casual as can be, and might mumble something like, "I have to be at work at 8, thought I'd stop by before." But that's a lie. By "work" they mean another garage sale.

My sister was always supposed to be in charge of keeping things tidy, but I'm pretty sure my mom just didn't want her checking people out because if someone would say "Can I give you $5" for a $10 item she'd smile and say, "oh just a dollar is fine."

Me on the other hand, I'd snap back, "how about $12?" I didn't take no shit from no one, especially hagglers. However, I couldn't do math to save my life, so I wasn't exactly the best option either.

The best choice was to plant my brother at the checkout. This would also keep him from walking around the tables the entire time bringing stuff back inside he didn't think should be sold.

I'll never forget when my mom sold his favorite Dennis Rodman t-shirt one year. If you blew on the shirt Rodman's hair turned colors. But it was also five sizes too small for him, and why would you want your child walking around in a shirt that encourages people to blow hot air on it?

There would be highs and lows through out the day. Busy attracts busy. If you can get three people to your sale, you'll get 13. But if you've got no one, you'll see people drive by real slow and just try to glance from their car, wondering if it's really worth their time to park the sedan.

And if someone walks up with their own canteen of coffee you know they're not messing around. If they're also wearing a fanny pack, velcro walking sandals, and carrying their own plastic bags; shit's about to get real. They're either going to walk away with half of your inventory, or none at all. There's no in between.

As a kid, I just always hoped the Bitchy Bettys stayed away while I was manning the fort.  I had no time for them at my garage sale. These were the people who would pick up a tshirt marked "50 cents" and remark, "the threads coming loose on this neckline." 

And I'd respond, "Yeah, that's why it's not .60 cents." 

They'd scoff and walk away and my mom would ask what I did to scare them off.

I'd shrug and say "I dunno. Guess they're not Dennis Rodman fans."

And within a few hours into the afternoon, my mom would insist we call it quits early and haul everything off to Goodwill. If you had any garage sale luck, a family of twelve would roll up at this very minute in their Nissan Stanza and offer to take it off your hands for you.

The long garage sale day would end and we'd have a lot less junk, a few more bucks in our pocket, and trampled hasta plants all up and down the driveway.

Oh how I love a good Midwest garage sale.

Ode To My Last Friday In My Twenties

Friday, May 12, 2017

Today is my last Friday in my twenties.

I've tried to remember my first Friday in my twenties but I can't. Probably because I was just a stupid 20 year old doing stupid 20 year old things! Typical.

I do remember that when I turned 20 I felt super old and very unsure what I wanted to "do with my life." In a moment of uncertainty and searching, I read the book, The Secret, and that was a game changer for me.

Yes, I'm aware that book is very corny and too weird for some, and that's okay. For me at the time it was perfect. It taught me the power of positive thinking and it was also this book that led me down the rabbit hole of "self help" and "hippy dippy universe" books.

It was also in my 20th year when I met a nice young man named "Chris."

When I turned 21 it was my senior year of college and I fell in love with my English classes. I switched my focus from "journalism" to "creative writing" and was very excited to tackle the "real world" with my super handy English degree! Oh, the places I'd go!

At age 22 I moved to Kansas City for a very weird job recruiting for a culinary school. It was a very odd job. Had my English degree led me astray? The "real world" wasn't as fun as sitcoms made it out to be. I never once did a happy hour wearing a black pencil skirt in my strappy stilettos while throwing back $14 Cosmos.

At age 23 I moved to Topeka, Kansas with Chris "because as long as we were together, we could be happy anywhere!" HA. HA. Turns out we couldn't. Our relationship survived, Topeka did not.
*I am sure Topeka is a fine place, it just was not a good fit for us.*

At age 24 we moved to Chicago on a whim. I didn't tell anyone at the time, but I was terrified. I was certain I'd be back in Nebraska within a year. Because change is SCARY!

I took this pic of Chris and Harlow while we were driving our UHAUL across the Midwest the day we left Topeka for good. Their boyish smiles almost make me tear up. It's one of my all time favorites.

At age 25 more changes happened. I got fired, laid off, and left two different jobs at lunch all within this time. This was a hard year. I was lost and mopey and struggled to get out of bed a lot of mornings. One night while I was pity drinking alone I signed up for classes at The Second City. I had no money in my bank account so I put it on my credit card. This would be another one of those "game changer" life things.

At 26 I tried stand up and felt I was destined to be a comic. I signed up for more classes at Second City and also at iO theater. "Studying comedy," as silly as that sounds, is one of the best things I've ever done.

Looking back, I know it's not the actual comedy classes that changed me, but the people I met. For the first time in my life I jumped outside of my cozy little bubble and befriended people that changed the way I thought about things and how I saw the world. I am forever grateful for this.

When I was 27 I created a t-shirt in hopes of selling it, but more so, in hopes that it would allow me to resist finding a "real job" for at least a few more months. I'd been sliding by on the minimal blog money I was making at the time and was hoping for just a few more months of freedom. Little did I know, I was about to become a full-time t-shirt lady.

This was also the year Chris asked me to marry him. I still giggle when I type this.

At 28 I took my blog and tshirts 100% full time. I got married when I was 29. It was the best day ever.

At age 29 I also donated more money to help animals than I had in my entire bank account at age 26 (or any other year before.) I don't mean this to sound braggy, I'm just really proud of it, (which I guess is being braggy, so it is what it is.)

That thing  people say is true, that "one of the great secrets to life is giving back." I'm glad I was able to learn this in my 20s rather than my 30s. It's been another game changer. And I probably wouldn't have figured it out if all the above puzzle pieces hadn't have come together like they have.

I never had a timeline regarding when I wanted to get married, or have children, or anything like that. However, I did hope to be "super famous" by my ten year high school reunion (according to my middle school diary) and I missed that one. But luckily I didn't attend my reunion, so maybe I'll catch it on the 20 year?

What I didn't mention above is that in my 20s I interviewed for a lot of jobs that I never got. I auditioned for several things and never received a call back. I was rejected more times than I can count, for all types of things. I started a lot of projects and business only to watch them fail. Launched new tshirt designs that tanked. Felt helpless as my good tshirt designs were stolen.

Basically, I fell on my ass time after time after time.

But I know the only reason I've found success in the things that I have, is because of all of those failures.

I don't know what my 30s will bring. Probably more failures. Hopefully more successes. Definitely more sun spots. Probably some new chin hairs. (I pretend they annoy me, but damnit they're gratifying to pluck, and you're lying to yourself if you don't agree with me.)

I hope my thirties bring more blogging. More writing. So many of the cool things I've been able to do/opportunities I've come across started with this blog and because people like you read it. So thank you! I appreciate you a lot. You allow me to stay home with Harlow every day and for that I am forever grateful.

And now if you'll excuse me I have to go live this Friday up, I'm still a care free 29 year old today and have to go do care free 29 year old things. (Like take Har to the park.)

Good bye and good luck.

Staying in a Yurt

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

So let's talk about the yurt. Google says a yurt is a "a circular tent of felt or skins on a collapsible framework, used by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey."

I call it the best way to camp!

In our yurt we had electricity, a sink, a heater, a bed, a couch and a small table and chairs. The only thing missing was a toilet and shower... Luckily, the communal bathrooms were just about 50 steps away. And they weren't your average camping bathrooms either, they were nice, clean and private, and I was pleasantly surprised!

The resort has a "main yurt" where you can get drinks and eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We did all four. On a non-foggy day you can sit outside at the bar with a glass of wine and gaze over the beautiful Pacific ocean. Instead, we sat outside and watched as the fog rolled in. And then after we drank too much I made Chris push me in the swing, a swing designated for relaxing and definitely not "aggressive swinging" or "underdogs." Still fun, though!

Tree Bones Resort is pretty self sufficient and a lot of the food they serve comes from their very own garden. And it's awesome! You're not just eating hotdogs or burgers, they're serving up delicious dishes. I had pesto kale spaghetti (which I will be trying at home because it was so good) and Chris had shrimp stir fry. At this point I feel I should state that Tree Bones has not asked me to write this, nor do I think they even care that I'm writing this. Let's just say they're not exactly the kind of place that seems to worry about social media, or could give a shit about asking bloggers to come in. And I mean that in the best possible way. There's literally one spot in the resort where you can get "satellite wifi," it's pretty crappy, and to be honest I felt like an idiot being on my phone there anyway.

You're supposed to be one with nature in your yurt, not Instagram. That said, please follow me @THEDAILYTAY if you don't already.

Moving right along.

As mentioned before, highway one is closed because of mudslides, so instead we were able to take back roads up the other side of the mountain through a military base that are usually closed off to the public. It was so scenic and beautiful we didn't feel slighted at all for not being able to take highway one, as we had originally planned.

And the best part was having all of the parks to ourselves.

After we'd had our fill of yurting, we jumped in the car to drive toward Santa Monica, another absolutely gorgeous drive filled with mountains, rolling green pastures, and beautiful California vineyards. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch and were greeted by two whales who just happened to be cruising by while we were sipping on Bloody Marys.

And that seems like a good spot to end for now because I just realized my mom and sister will be needing a ride from the airport in less than an hour! So I g2g! TTYL!

Our Trip To Big Sur

Monday, May 8, 2017

Last week we went on one of the cooler road trips/vacays I've ever been on.

We flew into San Fran, stayed a night there, and then got up bright and early to drive to Big Sur to stay in our yurt.

Due to heavy mudslides, scenic highway one is closed (unless you're a local or staying in the area like we were) so we had to take crazy back roads to get there. We were able to drive on a small stretch of the one, but trust me when I say the back roads had just as amazing views.

But if you don't like mountain driving, this drive is not for you. At times it was downright terrifying. We were on a very tight, curvy road, winding around a mountain literally above the clouds, with a huge deathly drop just a few feet away. Even as I type this it makes my stomach flip.

But it was totally worth it because once we got there we did so much! We hiked, played in waterfalls, saw whales, waded in creeks, drank a lot of wine...  And now I'm exhausted and sitting in my normal pile of Monday fear/overwhelm.

Before I jump into full recap let's start with a few photos. 

Chris snapping a pic in the middle of highway one. We think that because so many people hear the highway is closed, no one is trying to get up to Big Sur right now so the trails and beaches were basically empty, which was pretty awesome for us.

The resort we stayed at is called Treebones Resort and other than yurts, they also have tree houses and "nests" you can stay in. It was so cool and we're already planning a trip back.

I've got a ton more photos and YURTY things I can't wait to share, but for now T-Shirt Town is calling my name so I've got to get to do that first. More to come, if you have any specific questions on yurting or Big Sure, ask me below!

//Two Tone Leggings Found Here//