Tag Archives: life

life happens.

Our next door neighbors have a giant holly tree in their yard. It’s at the front corner of their back yard, if that makes any sense, and the reason that’s important is that the location of it makes it hang over into our driveway. Big time. I, for one, am thrilled about this. Christmas decorations cost money, and holly hanging over my car is free.

The point is – the last time I posted on the back burner, I hadn’t even noticed any berries on the holly tree. I started to see them a few weeks ago, and their unripe greenness reminded me of how bright and Christmasy they had been when we first saw the house. One morning this week, I got into my car, heading to work, and noticed that the berries had started to get yellow. How could it be that time of year already?

Today, as I sit on our couch in our living room, looking out into the crisp autumn afternoon, the berries are bathed in cool sunshine. They are a deep orange-y almost-red, and I can hardly believe it. Life happens. Life is busy. Holly turns red practically before your eyes these days.

And so, in the spirit of taking the time to notice what’s going on around us, here is a recap – with some pictures, don’t worry, I know I’ve been long-winded already) – of the past month. It’s been a good one, a crazy one, a memorable one. Enjoy!

Let’s see. Where should I start? Well, I’m still doing yoga. It has been so incredible for me. I’d heard about Bikram yoga for a long time, and had always been too chicken to try it. I started in July, and haven’t really looked back. I try to go to class at least three times a week, which usually means I go to class three times a week. With a full-time, “traditional” job, it’s often tough to fit in the 90-minute class, but it’s worth it. The studio is about ten minutes from our house, and the benefits I’ve reaped since starting are well worth the scheduling challenges I face. I feel better in so many way, including that much of my chronic back pain is now nonexistent. Cheers to Bikram. I’m an official convert.

Okay, I know. It’s time for some pictures. You know I love to take pictures of food, so that’s what I have. I’ve made lots of great dishes recently – this was a Cooking Light fish and tomato and basil saute:

I also made butternut squash soup for the first time. How amazing does this roasted butternut look?

Next came the big batch of basil pesto, some of which is still in the freezer. Check out this picture: Charlie is a BIG dog, and the basil plant is as tall as he is!

I also made the very unique and ridiculously delicious acorn squash quesadillas with tomatillo salsa from Smitten Kitchen. They’re like nothing else I’ve ever eaten, and we loved them. Here is a picture of the squash before roasting and a picture of the quesadilla filling cooking on the stove.

I also made from-scratch pumpkin pie this month. Strange, but true. I roasted and pureed the pumpkin myself and everything.

The crust was kind of a disaster – it was perfect underneath the pie but burnt on the top edge – but the rest of the pie was delish. This picture doesn’t really do it justice. It was much lovelier in real life!

I guess I’m getting out of order here, but the cooking topic brings me to yesterday morning. Carrie, Kus and I decided to make brunch here – and it ROCKED. The menu included mimosas, cinnamon hazelnut french-pressed coffee, cinnamon raisin french toast with fresh fruit, and spinach and ricotta quiche. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. It was to die for. I am kicking myself for not taking any pictures.

I had the pleasure of visiting R. in Charlottesville a few weeks ago, which is always well-worth the drive West on 64. I miss living in the same city as her. Maybe one day. :)

All three members of my immediate family have celebrated birthdays in the past month, too. My mom’s was a big year, if you know what I mean, so Dad threw her a huge surprise party. It was awesome. She had no idea. I sent my brother art supplies in the mail for his birthday, and we were all together again to celebrate Pops with a lovely dinner made by mom on Friday night. Again, I’ve got to remember to start taking pictures of things other than food. Sheesh.

I also did a little Fall decorating at our house – for some reason it seems that I’ve only taken pictures of one room, but here they are. What do you think?

My MFA program is…well, it’s going. I still get frustrated a lot, but I’m really working on it. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s okay for things not to be perfect and it’s okay for me to not feel like writing every second of every day. It’s just a crazy time, and it’s hard to me to balance everything.

Work has been crazy, but I like it that way. I’d so much rather feel like a chicken with my head cut off than be sitting around bored all day, doing nothing. I feel really fortunate to have found this job when we moved to Richmond, and it continues to be good to me.

Finally, last weekend we got a small group together and headed up toward Wintergreen to hike Three Ridges. It’s an almost 15-mile loop, so we did it over two days. We got on the trail at about 3pm on Saturday, camped Saturday night, and came off the trail at about 12:30pm on Sunday. It was awesome. We really needed to get away, and it was the perfect place to be. You just can’t beat Fall in the Blue Ridge. You really can’t.

And in case you need a laugh to end on, tomorrow is my last class at a local yarn store – I am allegedly learning how to knit socks. Tomorrow makes class #4 – and I seriously don’t know if I will be able to get through the second one after the class is over. Those things are complicated. And yes. You read that correctly. It has taken me four weeks to knit PART OF one sock. Gah.

Anyway, thanks for being here, and thanks for reading. Cheers to you and your loved ones, and enjoy life happening. :)




Filed under the back burner.

in lieu of writer’s wednesday.

It’s true, you lovely and faithful blog readers! (Both of you that are left, that is.) I’M BACK. the back burner is back. I’m sorry. Lots of these posts have been apologetic lately – which means I haven’t been great at blogging. I’m not even going to try make promises this time. I’m just going to do the best I can. But, back to the real news. We’re back.

In not necessarily chronological order, there is so much news to be shared. First of all – let’s just start with the big kahuna. I HAVE A NEW LAST NAME. Eeeeeeeeeeee! See the talented Katelyn James’ blog post about our big day if you’re curious. If you’re not so curious, I’ll give you a little sneak peek anyway.

We shared the day with so many of our loved ones, and even a one-hour rain delay (yes, it rained!) couldn’t even begin to put a damper on the beauty and the joy that followed us everywhere we went for the whole weekend. Let me tell you a little more about how full of love the day was:

  • First, Alex and I saw each other for portraits before the ceremony. I couldn’t contain myself – I cried my eyes out.
  • Then, my dad walked me down the aisle. I couldn’t contain myself – I bit my lip so I wouldn’t cry my eyes out.
  • Our dear friends (and wedding musicians) played “Sweet Home Alabama” as we recessed past the glowing faces of those we loved the most, married at last. I couldn’t contain myself – I blinked way too much while I tried not to cry my eyes out.
  • At the reception, I danced with my dad. Enough said. And yes, my mom cried her eyes out, too.
  • Then, Andrew and Margaret gave toasts. Let’s be honest. I cried my eyes out. It’s okay, though – Margaret did too. :)
Anyway, I know I’m making it sound funny – but really, it was the most perfect day of my life. I always thought it was sort of corny when people said that, but if you really think about it…it doesn’t get much better! To tell the world how in love you are with your soon-to-be husband with your family and friends as your witnesses – phew. I’m almost crying again.

In case anyone is wondering, we spent our first night as a married couple in a pop-up camper in my parents’ yard. Yes. It’s true. Even if you only know us from an every-know-and-then skim of this blog, you probably know how obscenely appropriate that is. We stayed at the party [almost] long enough to shut the place (and by place I mean my parents’ backyard) down, and only had to walk a couple hundred yards to bed. It rocked. And yes, we did actually go away after that. :)

On our short honeymoon in Staunton, we stayed at an amazing loft on the third floor of an old building in the heart of downtown. Our place was a totally unique juxtaposition of charming and modern. It was low-key and luxurious all at the same time, and we loved every second. We ate here and here and here, and browsed around here, here, here, and at some cool local antique stores. The amicable gentleman here even resized Alex’s wedding band for us (it was too big!) and gave us a special “newlyweds rate” to boot.

(Not a GREAT picture, I realize – but at least it has us in it! Most of the others are just of our super-cool loft.)

But, enough about that. On to the rest of the things I’ve been busy not blogging about for the past month and a half. Charlotte was AMAZING. The week was filled with inspiring people, good company, and good wine. Oh, and I wouldn’t want to forget to mention genius professors, challenging workshops, and enough ideas to blow my brain to smithereens just by trying to list them. I’m still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of completing this program, but one has to start somewhere. I’ll get there.

Back at home and post-wedding, we took our annual batteau trip! Nothing says “I love the first week of married life” like sweaty muslin clothes, light beer, and the James River. As always, it was awesome. I didn’t even get sunburnt this year!
Okay, don’t fret – I am aware this is not my husband! I can’t remember if I’ve posted pics of Sebastian before – but he’s a dear, dear friend of Alex and me. Such a good friend, in fact, that we both had the pleasure of living with him at one time or another when we lived in Charlottesville. This dude is like a batteau god. For real. Between him, Alex, and Alex’s brother Andrew – we’re always in good hands on the festival.

Let’s see, what else…we’ve been doing lots and lots of work on the house. New (to us) furniture has been coming in on the regular, we’ve gotten some painting done, and we’re getting new windows this month. We did a lot of work on the outside/yard, too, but there are too many pictures of all this stuff put together that I should probably wait until later.

Oh! In case you need a good laugh – I did hot yoga for the first time today. I have to say, for first-timers, I think La and I rocked it. AND according to a random calorie calculator, we burned 885 calories in the process. WHAT WHAAAAAAT. I went to work right after (post-shower, of course) and had eaten my breakfast AND dinner by 11:45am. Note to self: take snacks to work on yoga days.

Cheers, backburner-ites. It’s good to be home.


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a few dedications.

to our house. you are so great. you were meant for us – because we’ve felt at home here since the first time we set foot in the front door. i am excited to make you even more “ours” – including projects like, well, getting enough furniture to make all the rooms usable. :) not to be a downer, but i do wish that my things would all find their permanent homes here SOON. like my camera’s computer hookup. if i don’t find it soon, nobody will read this blog anymore and i will never dedicate another entire paragraph to you for the world (or 20 people) to read.

to alex. we are going to have the same last name in 27 days. YESSSSSSSSSSS. :)

to petsmart. thanks for giving roxie the worst haircut of her life today.

to dominion harvest. my first ever delivery was totally awesome. thank you for sending me asparagus and kale and bok choy and broccoli and goat cheese and lots of other rockin’ stuff.

to bok choy. i was excited when you were in my dominion harvest delivery. i didn’t like you as much as i hoped to. dangit.

to my parents. you are fantastic. for real.

to my brother. i am so proud of you. i try to tell you as best i can, but i really am. you are so talented and hardworking and i’m lucky to be your sister.

to lauryn. jared’s party ROCKED on friday. i love you guys.

to carrie. i am so glad you’re here. for real, girl.

to this post. you weren’t supposed to be sappy.

good night! :)


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city lights on the water.

Yes, the title of this post was penned by T. Swift. And no, it really has nothing to do with this post. I just love her, okay? No judging. :)

I’ve been gone too long – as usual. Wedding stuff/grad school stuff/life stuff is consuming me. Today, I worked both jobs. I’m tired.

This weekend was glorious. Alex and I did nothing on Friday night – but we did it together. I loved it.

Saturday, we went to Charlottesville – McGrady’s, to be exact, for an amazing co-ed shower thrown for us by the Burkes. Good people, good food, good weather – what more could we ask for? I forgot to take pictures. I wish I had a camera elf. You know, to remind me.

Sunday, I went to church with my family. Alex was studying – exams this week! I went to Mom & Dad’s for Mother’s Day, had a great meal (cooked by Pops) and a lovely nap.

I feel like there’s so much I haven’t blogged. Sooner or later, I will. Or maybe I’ll just start with the present, whenever the present provides me with enough time to write the way I’d like to.

In other news, I’m terrified about my trip to Charlotte. I’ll be there two weeks from now. I’m not ready. It’s too expensive. I’m scared.

Sweet dreams. :)

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Filed under the back burner.

off and running.

this week has been long. well, technically it’s been short – because my office is closed on easter monday. but this four-day work week followed a six-day work week. so that makes it seem longer.

tuesday and yesterday, i worked both jobs. today, i was grateful for the drive straight home. it’s so much better than the drive from job to job.

anyway, the point is – even long (long/short?) weeks have their up-sides. and lucky for me, this one is no exception. see for yourself:

maybe a promotion. more later.

the run i went on when i got home tonight. a necessary evil in a week like this one. :)

bringing home two new toys (from the clearance rack, no less!) for c & r. watching charlie literally jump for joy, and seeing roxie ten minutes later guarding both of the toys and growling when he gets close to them. she’s 1/6 of his size.

an email from betsy. it was fabulous enough to hear from her, and even more fabulous to learn the details of her oh-so-rapidly approaching return to this virginia.

taking a walk with carrie on my lunch break yesterday. it’s so nice to have friends close by.

tons of goodies on sale at kroger 10/$10 this week – including but not limited to goldfish crackers, easy mac, hummus, and pillsbury cinnamon buns. yesssss.

gchat. enough said.

dinner out with alex, thanks to a gift certificate i won at a work party earlier this year. nothing like cheese fondue, wine, and my favorite boy. technically that was monday night, but we’ll count it.

and the grand finale –


i mean, honestly. a week can only be so long when there’s that to look forward to. :)

moral of the story – if you feel like making a list, make one about the good stuff. the longest of weeks will seem like a moment so fleeting you’ve forgotten the bad parts already.

back next week, loves. thanks for reading. xo


Filed under the back burner.

trying new things.

Okay, so last week, Alex was having a sort of crummy day. And nothing makes my future hubby happier than meat when he’s down in the dumps. Straight up, delicious, meaty meat. He’s a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy – who, luckily for me, also happens to be willing to try lots of random vegetable and fish combos too. Anyway, I remembered that he mentioned years (yes, literally years) ago that he loved Sloppy Joes. And I had never made – or eaten, for that matter – them before. I remembered seeing this recipe online a while back, so I tried it out.

I have to say – I’d definitely recommend it! It’s super easy, and makes a decent-sized batch. We ate leftovers for a few days afterwards! We had ours with whole wheat buns and a bottle each of Legend Lager – Legend is a Richmond brewery, but if you can get their stuff wherever you are, I’d definitely recommend it. :)

That same night, I decided to think up a better way to start our days – aka re-vamp our breakfast routine. We’re big fans of super sugary cereal, but I’ve been thinking that there has to be a more nutritional way to get our engines going in the morning. So, armed with some sausage and absolutely no plan, I made a breakfast casserole. I started with 4-6 eggs (I actually cannot remember how many I used), which I whisked into a scramble in a medium mixing bowl. I browned a roll of hot breakfast sausage on the stove, and plopped the crumbles into the eggs. I shredded a 4-ounce block of Cabot sharp white cheddar into the mix, added a little bit of milk, and stirred. Then, I greased the bottom of an 8×8 inch Pyrex and poured the mess into it. I cooked this for between 20 and 30 minutes (again, I should have been a little more exact) at 375 degrees (I think it was 375 – GAH, I know. I’m sorry!). I know that these aren’t the most specific directions, but it seems like this is something that’s pretty hard to mess up! We ate like kings every morning for the rest of the week – I cut the casserole into 8 pieces, which gave each piece a very reasonable amount of egg (less than 1 egg per serving), sausage (less than one official “serving” per piece) and cheese (not exactly sure the serving size to piece of casserole ratio). We loved it – I’ll definitely be making this again on a regular basis. It was so easy to just get out a slice and zap it before work in the morning!

Okay, if you’re still reading this (which I don’t blame you if you’re not – I’m a little all over the place today), here’s the REALLY big news. If you like these recipes – get excited for the coming months. Thanks to the advice of a co-worker, I’ve signed up for a share with Dominion Harvest for this season! Basically, Dominion Harvest is a CSA co-op that delivers the box of produce directly to your house. Um, don’t mind if I do!

Alex and I will get a box of produce (complete with a dozen eggs and some sort of awesome local cheese) every two weeks to start. You can do every week, too, but I didn’t want to overload us at the beginning. We are SO excited about this – it’s like a farmer’s market that comes straight to your front door! According to my friend who referred me, DH also sends out recipes via email – which is awesome since a lot of the veggies we get probably won’t be on our normal recipe list.

I still hope to grow some goodies in our brand-spankin’ new backyard, but it won’t be a huge harvest this year between exams/job shifts/that whole wedding planning thing are all taking up lots and lots of the good stuff (i.e. TIME) these days. This is my way of being adventurous and supporting local farmers (almost 100% of the goodies in every box we get will be from farms less than 100 miles from the Richmond area!) and of course eating lots of delicious dinners this year.

Anyway, sorry for this ridiculously long, rambling, and picture-less post. Thanks for reading – really. :) Hopefully the recipes to come (with some eye candy) will make up for it.



Filed under the back burner.

we’re here.

WE’RE HERE. in our house. OUR house. our HOUSE. OUR HOUSE! Sorry. I’m excited. I say that in my head about forty million times a day. Not sure if it makes me more crazy or less so to actually type it out here, but anyway – I’m excited. But I already said that. :)

Here’s a quick peek at one of my favorite and smallest projects we’ve done so far. We inherited this lovely closet on closing day:

Yes, that’s a combo of a really old paint job AND some lovely wallpaper. Here’s a bit of a closer look:

And so, I gave our coat closet a facelift. I painted it. Yes, I painted the wallpaper. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to. But I did it anyway. We had the toughest time getting the wallpaper down from our hallway, and we’ve just now started spackling to cover up the removal damage. Anyway, I took my chances for the closet, and so far – it’s holding up well! The bottom color is what’s on the wall in the room, and the upper color is what’s also in our bedroom (and will probably eventually go into the hall). Check it out!

So yeah. This probably doesn’t look like that big of a deal, but it makes me happy. It’s cheery, and it’s very us. And the best part is – now the closet has coats in it! YAY!

Okay, enough for now. Happy almost Friday!


PS: And because everything is better with pictures of a pretty dog, enjoy. :) Charlie’s favorite part of the new house is definitely the yard. Doesn’t he look handsome in it?


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