Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Preparation for Christmas

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the advent season has already started. This year, we're working hard to focus less on material items and more on preparing our hearts for Christmas and the birth of Christ. It's tough when the world around us is saying buy more, this will bring you happiness, etc, but we are fighting hard to swim upstream. 

Normally we decorate closer to the second week in December, but this year we both felt eager to get the tree up and enjoy as much time cozied up by the tree & lights as possible. Last year, Will was working some super late nights and I remember that by the time we got the tree we were rushing to get it up. This year felt different, it was slower and more enjoyable. 

Things I'm looking forward to this Christmas season:
  • lots of time reading by a warm fire and sparkling tree
  • the children's Christmas play -- my absolute favorite thing where I get to see some of my sweet tutoring kids take part in the play
  • Christmas cookies & cookie swappin' -- my friend & I host an annual cookie swap & its such a blast getting to taste all different kinds of goodies
  • Advent time -- We started a new tradition with an advent calendar I made; each day has a passage for us to read to follow the story of Christ's birth
  • ELF and every other Christmas movie! -- We've already watched Christmas vacation with our neighbors & I can't wait to watch more.
  • Christmas Eve dinner with the Coopers-- The past two years, Will & I have hosted his family for Christmas eve dinner. I really enjoy cooking all day with Will and getting to serve the food to his sweet family of ALL men. We share some of my family's traditions (English poppers) and have created our own traditions too.
  • Post-Christmas time with my family -- we'll head to Charlotte after Christmas to celebrate with my family. I love it so much & so enjoy getting to take part in the traditions I grew up with. 
  • wrapping gifts -- I think I got this from my mom, but I love wrapping gifts! Finding creating ways to wrap them is so fun.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fall fall fall

Oh hey, just me. Haven't written in for-ev-er, but I'm back for now.

If you know me at all, you know I'm a summertime girl. A ninety-degree-weather-bathing-suit-&-tees- go-to-the beach-every-day kind of girl. (There is a reason I married a man from the beach!). But as I have gotten older, I have to say that I have come to really love fall. The coolness of the morning, the freshness of a new season, the comfort of hearty soups and the excitement of holidays on the horizon makes this time of year so fun.


(can you guess who did which one?)

Where we live it takes a while for fall to hit. We were rocking the eighty degree weather well into October and there were plenty of beach-worthy days right up until Halloween. Finally, things seemed to have cooled down for good. We've broken out the long sleeve shirts and sweaters, the down vests and boots. I cooked up several soups and we've eaten them with warm corn bread dipped in. The down comforter is even on our bed now, which is pretty exciting because I fight to have that thing year around, but Will insists its only for fall/winter.



 Even though I have a cup of tea every morning, I find that this time of year makes me savor it even more. I hop out of bed, throw on some slippers to protect my feet from the frigid hardwoods and turn on the kettle. Unloading dishes and cleaning up messes I ignored the night before, I wait for the whistling that tells me my water is ready. The past few days, I've found myself refilling my mug for round two of Earl Grey. It's so nice to just sit, slowly wake up and spend some time doing a devotional (currently doing one on Colossians and it's awesome).


Fall for us has meant long walks on Saturdays and Sundays through our favorite neighborhoods. Picking out our dream houses from the historic areas of Wilmington and sometimes stopping in for a coffee on the walk home. It means flannel shirts and neighborhood hangouts outside, fires in the fire pit and (if I bug Will enough) fires in our indoor fireplace soon!



 The neighborhood Oktoberfest (below) was awesome; totally taking things too far-- like a 20 person German band, costumes & lots & lots of lights-- and I loved it.


And as always during seasons of work for Will, this time is one of cramming in as much time as we can get together even when that means sacrificing other things (normal daily chores etc). They have been filming downtown a bunch lately so I've popped in for "lunch" with Will a few days. Lunch is normally at some random time that is totally not lunchtime for normal people. Sometimes its my dinner-ish time, other times it's the middle of the afternoon. Ninety five percent of the time I spend more time finding parking downtown than I do eating with him, but like I said we are just cramming in as much time as we can get. Thankful for a man who works hard! (Check out his camera cart on set!).



Monday, August 11, 2014

Risotto

I've had this hankering for risotto recently and last night I finally made it. Granted it took double the time I remembered and we ate at 8:30 pm, it was delightful and everything I wanted.

As I methodically stirred the risotto, memories of my first time making it rushed back. It was senior year of college and I was babysitting regularly for a family in Chapel Hill. The dad was a doctor and the mom worked from home as an editor, I believe. I picked up their kids from school, took them home, prepared dinner and shuttled the kids to and from practices. On this particular winter day, after shuffling inside with the kids in toe, I found a recipe for risotto sitting on the counter. The mom, a super organized, type-a-personality, popped in to say that risotto was on the calendar for tonight. She quickly asked if I had ever made risotto and to that, I admitted that no, I'd never made something quite that fancy (after all I was a college student!). "It's really not as complicated as everyone says," she told me, "it's just a lot of stirring!" At that, she wandered back into her office and shut the door. 

I began skimming the recipe and pulling out the ingredients. Unlike me, this mom was a planner. She had individually portioned (1 cup) chicken broth in the freezer. Not to mention the typed out grocery list, which was organized by aisle at her particular store, so that she could simply circle the items they needed to restock on at home. And, if it wasn't on her list, don't worry, she had additional "write-in" lines! We couldn't have been more different. So I set out to make their dinner, hoping that I wouldn't screw this thing up because they didn't really seem like the "buy some takeout on a whim because we screwed up the risotto" type of people. 

Dicing up an onion and some garlic, I let those soften in some oil, quickly filling the house with the sweet smell of browning onions. After a few minutes, I added the risotto. With small crackles of the rice hitting the cast iron skillet, I began to smell the nuttiness of the risotto. I let that cook for just two or three minutes, then I poured in some white wine. Any kind is fine, even some thats been sitting in your fridge is fine. I find that it's best to pour a glassful in the pan and then refill for your glass. You're going to need it with all this stirring. Once the liquid has soaked in, begin pouring in the chicken broth a half of a cup at a time. You will get into a rhythm, pour, stir, stir, stir, until the liquid is gone, add another half of a cup. I'm not actually sure how many cups I poured in, I just kept adding more broth until the arborio rice was soft when I bit into it. It will be a while and a lot of stirring so grab a book in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other, or better yet convince a friend to chat with you while you stir. You will see a clear difference in your pan, from separated grains of rice to more of a creamy mixture. Make sure you add some salt and pepper here and there, maybe some mushrooms or a spritz of a lemon, too. I like a little fresh parmesan cheese grated on top and some arugula mixed in just before serving. This meal is rich and so satisfying.

The great thing about risottos is that there are so many ways to change it up. Add some veggies in the spring or butternut squash in the fall. It will not disappoint, I promise. 

I am happy to report that I successfully made it on that winter day in college. I snuck a few spoonfuls before running of to drop the kids at karate. It's a funny thing to prepare a family's dinner, but not share it with them. It felt a little bit wrong, maybe I just selfishly wanted some more of that creamy risotto, but to me sharing the meal with those you've prepared it for is the best part. It makes all the stirring worth while.

Risotto (4 people as a side dish)
1 medium yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. arborio rice
1 c. white wine
1-2 cartons of chicken broth (or homemade) ... I am not sure of the exact amount I used, but I always try to have two cartons on hand just in case I have to tap into the next one, usually one will do.
mushrooms, parmesan cheese, veggies, arugula (any extra add ins you can think of!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sunday morning skipping

This past Sunday was by far one of my favorites in a long time. The night before we had friends over and we stayed up super late catching up on life & eating pie. We climbed in bed and I was dreaming of sleeping in late. Our alarm went off too early, or so it seemed, and without even thinking about it we hit snooze. And continued to snooze again, and again. Honestly, this not that far off our usual Sunday morning, except that I normally get up after one snooze and get ready for church, then go back in and wake Will up. The poor guy is always in a state of sleepiness due to his job. But this Sunday, I kept hitting the snooze button. I'd think, next one I'll get up. Finally, I told Will, let's just turn it off & sleep in so we pulled the covers back over us and happily slept for as long as we wanted. 

I eventually got up, because I can't actually sleep that late anymore, made some tea, and grabbed my journal. Pulling the curtain back just enough to let a little light shine in on my side,  I settled back into bed. Will slept soundly by my side and I happily read for a while. Finally, around noon or so, I woke him up. We decided we'd make a little brunch to go with our coffee/tea (round two of tea for me). I whipped up some buttermilk from milk and lemon juice, gathered the ingredients for biscuits and cut in the butter. Since it was Sunday and why not?, I used my largest biscuit cutter. I wanted big, fluffy ones that I could smother in jam. Will fried up some bacon and a few eggs, while making a big cup of coffee. This is what I dream of: slow mornings with my favorite person, buttermilk biscuits topped with homemade strawberry jam and some new tunes spinning on the record player. 

Growing up, I always felt like there was this requirement to go to church every Sunday. Even in college, I felt this guilty feeling if I skipped a week. Eventually some sweet friends pointed out to me that I shouldn't feel forced to go and that no one is keeping an attendance log. There's nothing wrong with skipping every once in a while to catch up on sleep or in my case, catch up with your husband. This past Sunday was delightful and I didn't feel one ounce of guilt about missing church. It was exactly what we needed after a very long & frustrating week. I am thankful for sleeping in, homemade brunch, and a God who loves me even if I take a day off.

***Addition: After reading this weeks later, I want to add a little note. I recently read a book review on this book that basically said we no longer need to go to church, we should just sit at home, be comfy & drink tea while thanking God. I totally disagree & completely believe we desperately need the church. We need community and accountability. After rereading this post, I realized it came across more like that book. This post was more about rest and how every once in a while, it can be beneficial to rest and catch up with your spouse who works 65+ hours a week.




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dog days of summer

Even though summer officially just started in terms of the calendar, we have been feeling the heat for a while. We have seen plenty of days in the 90's with a heat index of 103 or so. On Sunday, our AC went out so we have REALLY been feeling the heat. The situation is confusing, but in short it could have been fixed Monday, but now it will hopefully be fixed on Friday. I'm working hard not to wallow in self-pity over here, but I must admit that I have treated myself to an icee and lots of popsicles. Thankfully, my father-in-law brought over a window unit so we have that cranked up in our bedroom so sleeping hasn't been too bad. I'm struggling to have patience and trying to remind myself that AC is a luxury that many do not have. We are working hard on being positive and not complaining (too much).

Other life updates: the triathlon I was training for got cancelled. Not sure if I mentioned that on here before?, but yes, quite a bummer. I have to confess that once I heard it was cancelled I really slacked on the workouts. This week I am teaching VBS at our church which has been great, a little exhausting, but wonderful.

Here are a few scenes from summer thus far.



devouring popsicles to fight the heat. these are from trader joes & are delicious, strawberry & mango flavor.


a little slow morning time with some fresh south carolina peaches on my bowl of cereal


heaven on earth, i'm convinced. last week i spent at least two hours at the beach daily (eek, sorry but it was awesome).


lazy summer days have included a few naps for the two of us



scenes from last night: cereal in a mug (because its too hot in this house to turn the stove on) & a good read, all while sitting directly in front of the window unit & air blasting on my face.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dinner Club

About two months ago, I read the book Bread and Wine by Shuana Niequist and fell in love with her writing style and ideas. You will find a lovely mixture of recipes, life stories and faith that will leave you craving for a full house and delicious food.

Some of the ladies in my small group had heard about the book and decided it could be fun to read it and then meet weekly to make some of the recipes. At the end of the book, she separates it into four dinner clubs & provides a main course, salad, side and dessert for each week. Our first dinner club was two weeks ago where we had steak au poivre with a cognac sauce, simple greens with a light vinaigrette, risotto with mushrooms and a (healthy-ish) blueberry crumble. Everyone came over to my house and provided one of the dishes or wine. For hours we sat around our farmhouse table, with make-shift chairs due to the extra number of people, and it was wonderful. The salad was light and tangy and the perfect match for the steak. At first bite, I fell in love with risotto and ate more of that than my steak to be honest. It was savory and somehow risotto just feels comforting. And lastly, the blueberry crumble (with vanilla ice cream) was divine!

Week two began with mango curry chicken served over rice, goat cheese biscuits, a green well salad (topped with dried fruit & candied walnuts) and flour-less brownies to finish it off. Our sweet neighbor made the biscuits and I absolutely loved seeing her husband walking down the street carrying a piping hot cast iron skillet full of biscuits. We had a few more come this week so we again crammed in a few more chairs and sat extra close, which made it even more fun. Seeing my house full, connecting old friends with new friends and having a really loud dinner (where you laugh so hard you cry) makes me so happy!

I'm already looking forward to next week (bacon wrapped dates, white bean soup, feta watermelon salad and dark chocolate sea salted toffee)! I would encourage you to read this book & try out a few dinner parties of your own. Shauna Niequist talks a lot about how it doesn't need to be perfect or even fancy, just welcoming people into your home and sitting around the dinner table with folks creates such a bond and builds wonderful community. So don't be intimidated or feel like your house "isn't nice enough," people don't notice those things ... they care about feeling loved and appreciated. AND people love to help so don't feel like you need to do it all on your own; I'm learning to give guests a job and let them wash some dishes.

I intended on taking pictures this week, but let's be honest once I saw those biscuits it was useless, I wanted those things in my belly immediately. Maybe next week, but no promises!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

SUMMER!

I've been missing from this space for a week or two because things got pretty crazy. May was an incredibly busy month and I've got to say that I'm a little happy to see it go. Hello June & welcome summer! Our last day of school was on Friday so I am officially in summer mode (although actually not officially because I still have a few teacher workdays left).

It was a great school year and I am proud of myself for a successful first year of teaching. I learned a lot & feel confident that we accomplished so many things. I am already excited to implement new things and improve on a few things next year.

Summer is by far my favorite season and I am thrilled that I will get to enjoy it fully. I plan on spending some quality time at the beach and being outside as much as I can (I am actually doing some work & volunteering this summer so I promise I'm not just hanging on the beach every day)! I'm sad that Will will be working crazy hours & that I won't see too much of him, but we'll get to enjoy the weekends together. Here's to beach days, the smell of sunscreen 24/7, Kohl's custard and lots of backyard hangouts!

Pictures from blueberry picking last week:





Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Friendships

I am currently doing a study on Nehemiah, which can be found here (I highly suggest it!). So far it has been wonderful and really changing my outlook on the day. I find myself hurrying to get out of the shower & boil some hot water for tea so I can settle in for just a few moments & read the day's devotion. 


Today, I read about Nehemiah asking for help from the Israelites to help him rebuild the wall & defend Jerusalem from an attack at the same time. The study then led me over to Hebrews for this verse, "... and let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25). It was a great reminder that we are called to be in relationships, to seek our friendships and encourage one another. We need to ask for help from friends and return the favor to them. Nehemiah was not afraid to ask for help from others because he knew if they combined their talents and efforts they could complete the work for the Lord. 

Today I am thankful for friendships, near and far, that challenge me, encourage me and spur me on to new adventures. For women in my life who would do anything for me, and I for them. Thankful for sweet friends that have traveled with me, studied with me, run & pushed me (sometimes literally when running) through challenges I thought impossible. For friends who have shared hospital beds with me and sat in on difficult doctors visits, women who comfort me and make me laugh. For friends who do the weirdest things with me & throw themed parties like you've never seen. Thankful for new friendships and old ones. Today I am thankful for friendships that last through years, life changes and miles of distance & for people who I can call on when the storms roll in or if celebration is in order. Let's remember the importance of friendships and "provoke one another to love & good deeds."

^ sharing a hospital bed shout out goes this lady, thanks friend.





^ themed parties & costumes like you won't believe, these girls know how to have fun & take things WAY too far.


^high school graduation, we would then go on to be roommates/housemates all four years of college 













Thursday, May 15, 2014

A bittersweet ending


Wednesday tutoring is nearing the end as the school year quickly comes to a close. It is truly a bittersweet end as I have so loved getting to know these sweet kids & (hopefully) providing a little extra help on homework and schoolwork. It has been such a joy to see them grow both academically and socially. I have seen one of them go from speaking only Spanish and not understanding a word of English to being able to look at word problems in English and figure out what they are asking all on her own! How incredible! 

We still have plenty more work cut out for us as we work on getting them up to speed with their classmates, but oh we have made strides! I'm sad that my Wednesday afternoons won't be filled with a car full of kids, laughing and screaming. I sure will miss pulling into their trailer park and seeing the kids lined up waiting to pile into our cars. But, I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a long relationship with these guys and their families. I am excited for what's to come & I know that we will have visits this summer. So thankful for the opportunity to love on them & eager to see more changes in years to come. 

pictured above: Darlin, Jocelyn, Rikci, Bryan (photo taken by little Miss Melanie).

Monday, May 12, 2014

Film incentives & trusting

I realize that many of you may not be familiar with the tax incentive program for film in North Carolina. Currently, film companies receive a rebate to encourage more film business to come to North Carolina. Recent studies have shown that for every dollar of credit issued, $9.11 in direct spending was generated by the film industry in North Carolina. Film companies & their workers support local businesses, restaurants, hotels... not to mention they provide thousands of jobs to locals. 

The film incentive program in NC is set to expire at the end of this year. In the next month, the "short session" of the General Assembly will be held and if not mentioned or renewed, the film incentives will simple expire in December and film companies will choose other states for work. What does this mean for us & so many others that work in film & support their family through this industry? Well, we're honestly not sure, but most likely the work will go away & we will either have to move elsewhere or pick a new career. 



I feel hopeful that they will re-up the incentives, but there is a very real chance that they won't. Our friends that also work in this industry are starting to talk about back-up plans and discussing moving if it came to that. Will and I have talked about it and we keep coming back to this: We really love where we are and don't want to move, but if thats what happens we may have to do that. We basically have two plans going right now, one where we will be buying a house in Wilmington next summer if all goes well, or the other we will be using some of that saved money as we transition to a new place/new jobs.

At first, I felt really worried, job stability has always been (thankfully) something that Will has had. I felt anxious at the possibility of starting all over and going back to being uncomfortable and having to search for new jobs, friends, a home etc. But, I've had a lot of time to mull it over at this point (we've known that this was coming for a while now). I feel at ease and am trusting that we will end up where we are supposed to be, whether that be the land of the pines or elsewhere. 

So we would appreciate prayers. We've rallied in downtown Wilmington, contacted local representatives and now all we really can do is pray. The short session begins May 14th and will last about 6-7 weeks so we should know pretty soon if the film incentives have been renewed. I know this is good for us, to be forced to simply trust & let the decision be made for us. Updates to come for sure.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Working part-time

My boss approached me recently about taking on some extra work at school to help her out. I started doing it and have now taken over managing our school's social media. She asked me if I would be interested in doing this next year as well. (I currently teach Mon/Wed/Fri and then do the social media stuff from home). We agreed that I would talk it over with Will and get back to her.

After talking it through with Will, we both agreed; if the work was similar to the amount of work that I am doing now then I would be happy to continue, but we both felt that we needed to protect my schedule and stay on a part-time basis.

I never envisioned myself working part-time without kids and in this stage of life. In fact, I almost didn't apply to this job because it was part-time, but the Lord knows what is best for us. Part-time has been such a help for both of us. It allows me way more flexibility while Will is working to get all the things that fall completely on me done; and when he is off, it gives us two extra days to spend time together and enjoy every minute of the time when he is around. Also, it allows me the opportunity to serve in ways that I had always desired, but due to work schedules I wasn't able to make them happen.

It honestly was such a strange switch going from 40 hours a week to 20 (ish) hrs a week and I felt bad for having extra free time. I felt guilty that Will was working like crazy and I was working just three days a week, but then I saw how it improved our marriage. Will mentioned frequently how helpful it was for him that I was able to run errands and keep things in order while he was working. He also mentioned how much more he enjoyed being off when I was around to hang out. It made transitions back to work for him much easier because we knew we would at least see each other on Tuesday/Thursday mornings since I would be around & I could always pop in to set for a meal as well.

I'm sure many people think it is crazy for a 24 yr old to be working part-time when I'm fully capable of working full time, but I just have to remind myself of what works for our family. I am thankful that we are able to swing it financially and for all the positives that is has brought about for us. I don't know if this is how it will always be, but for now it is right and that is all that matters. 



Tuesday morning reading/journaling with a side of earl grey & banana muffin.





Thursday, April 24, 2014

Update on triathlon training.

Update on triathlon training: it's going (kind of). 

Right before we left for Mexico, I somehow hurt my knee. I went for a run and it was totally fine, but by the end of the day, I was wincing and walking around with a slight limp. It felt like my old running injury from high school (knee issue that took months to heal) was back and any time I bent my knee or straightened it completely, I felt a shooting pain. When we woke up to drive to Raleigh for our flight, it was killing me and I was a bit bummed that we were headed on vacation in this state; Will had a bad stomach ache, and sinus stuffiness/head congestion and knee pain had hit me hard. We were a pitiful crew. The knee pain continued on our trip, but seemed to improve daily. The bike ride we did across the island didn't seem to bother it and I figured resting from running was going to be a good thing.

Well, we got back and I intended to test out my knee and go for a short run within the first few days, but that didn't happen. Today, I started back at the exercising thing and had a great swim workout this morning (it's funny how great you feel after a good workout, but then how quickly you forget & dread it again the next day). 

I still have yet to sign up for the race, but am feeling more confident than I was a week or so ago. Yesterday, I happened to talk to one of my student's mom who has completed quite a few triathlons. She really encouraged me to give it a shot and boosted my confidence about my ability to do it. So ... I'm back at the training & hoping to stay more consistent and avoid any injuries. 

During my small group (we are still finishing up the book Boundaries), we discussed our "out-of-control soul" and some common issues that people face. Some being greed or food addiction, but one really struck me: task completion. The book talks about how people that struggle with this have an inability to delay gratification (they want to the pleasure right away) and struggle with lack of follow-through. I think I struggle with this a bit. Often, I get really excited about tasks and I get started, but I have difficulty completing them. I am seeing this with this training plan as well; I desperately want the satisfaction of completing a triathlon, posting pictures of me at the finish line and that proud feeling that I DID it, but I can't seem to muster up the strength & commitment to complete the daily grind of workouts and training. I want this to be motivation for me to really stick with it, to do the hard workouts and train daily so that in two months I can have that gratification that I completed it! Hold me accountable, y'all, I'm going to do this.

**Also, side note... it's funny how many excuses I can come up with daily to prevent doing a workout. Here are a few for your enjoyment. Maybe you can relate.
--I'm going to run before going to work today ... (alarm goes off) ... eh... I'll do it this afternoon, it's better for me to get rest.
--I've already showered today and it would really be a pain to have to shower again
--I haven't had enough water today ...
--Oh it's windy?, yeah... I think I'll go tomorrow...
--Oh it's below 60 or above 80, eessh that's not good weather for me...
--I DID work in the garden today, that's physical activity, right? (no lie, that was my excuse on Tuesday)
--It really ruins my morning routine of tea/breakfast & my quiet time if I run...


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

More of Mexico

We'll it's back to the grind over here. School started back yesterday & despite a bit of difficulty getting up in the morning, it was a really good day. While sitting and drinking my tea yesterday morning, I fell asleep and woke up to hot tea pouring all over me ... whoops! I had gotten too used to island life and sleeping in!

I'm sorting through our pictures and reliving the warmth & joy of Mexico (why is it so cold here?!). Here are a few pictures from the trip, more to come once I've sorted through all of them.



^ Check out that blue water!!


^^ sunset on Playa Norte (about a block from our hotel)




^^ We rented bikes for a day & rode across the island (only about 5 miles each way). It seemed like we picked the hottest day for the ride, but we took some breaks for pictures every so often!



^^ and we breaked for lunch & drinks :)



^^ Hotel Las Palmas, where we stayed. They had an awesome set-up... lots of hammocks and shady spots for reading and hanging out. This was right beside our room, but they also had hammocks on the rooftop too.






^^ red faces after biking across the island in 90 degree heat, but seriously, for that view? Who wouldn't?


^^ trying "Cazuelas," which are sort of a mix between an omelette & a soufflĂ© 


^^ Sounds a bit strange, but we visited a cemetery on the island. It was really interesting to see cultural differences; I love how bright everything is and all the crosses. The above picture is from a small chapel by the cemetery. 




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Update from Mexico

I'm currently laying in bed, curled under covers with the little AC unit in our room blasting. Will is snoozing, as he should be since it's only 7 AM here. Recently I've had this issue when trying to sleep in, I can't do it, even when I desperately want to! Also, when the sun is pouring in and there's crystal clear water, 85 degrees of sunshine & blue skies awaiting me, it's a little hard for me to sleep. I'm a summertime girl. Nothing, I'm convinced, fills me with as much joy as sunshine, waves crashing on the shore & the smell of sunscreen. 

We've explored the island a bit, in a very low key way, the way we always travel. Will and I are laid back travelers. We don't make an agenda, plan meals or side trips, heck, we don't even wear our watches. Sometimes we take naps midway through the day or eat lunch at 3:00. Yesterday, we did both. 

After filling our stomachs with cazuelas (mix between an omelette & soufflĂ©), we headed back to load up on sunscreen and throw on our suits. After walking just a block, we were greeted with the bluest water you can ever imagine & bright, white powdery sand. Our morning was spent there, soaking up as much vitamin D we could get & loading up on 50 SPF because we are ghostly right now and because somehow as you get older you become more responsible about these things. 


As it hit the lunchtime hour and more people headed out to the beach, we headed in for a break. Our hotel has a lovely rooftop setup with hammocks & shade, a perfect spot to get a cool
breeze and read a few chapters of a book. I endulged in a mexi coke, because is there really anything better in this world?, and settled into a hammock with my book. We read for a few hours, ehm, Will read for a few hours, I read a chapter and then snoozed for a bit. By this point we were feeling a bit hungry so we headed across the street to the mercado. It seemed to be a hot spot among the locals so we figured it was worth a shot. Will ordered fish tacos and I got shrimp tacos instead. They brought them out with glass bottle cokes (pretend I didn't tell you I drank one earlier too, vacation.. Right?!?). My shrimp tacos were delicious, slightly garlicky with the taste of fresh lime spritzed on top. They were served in fresh corn tortillas with a little beans, tomato & avocado. The coke was bubbly and super sweet & the people watching was even better. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon back at the beach, watching the sunset from there. It was beautiful, perfectly orange and the contrast between the crystal clear water was incredible. We skipped on showers for a bit longer and ventured down to where the ferries come in for some more seafood (that's what they're known for here). The ceviche was perfect, lots of lime and cilantro. Also, the pico de gallo tasted so fresh and left us wanting the recipe. We called it a night after drinking a glass, or two, of red wine & sampling fresh bread & cheese (from the market) on the rooftop of our hotel. It was a good day yesterday, one for the books, no doubt.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Home

An elderly neighbor said to me recently, "where you grew up will always be home, no matter how much time passes." I've been thinking about what she said and I think she is right. Despite how comfortable I am in Wilmington and how much I love our life here, going back to Charlotte and staying at my parent's house will always be "home." There are so many familiar things there: the 1960's style neighborhood full of a strange mixture of families and elderly couples, the smell of my mama's kitchen (there's always something good cooking), the yellow & blue plaid chair Grannie sits in most days, completing crossword puzzles & sudoku that no one else can figure out, the creaking of the stairs up to the bedrooms and the bright, yellow room where sleepovers with friends took place for so many years.


We visited my parents this weekend and all the feelings of home rushed back. I so enjoyed our visit, catching up with my family, eating good food and spending time outside. It was relaxing and refreshing.

On Saturday, we walked part of the greenway and then grabbed lunch. The rest of the day we spent sitting outside, talking & reading. My dad loves to grill so he fired up the Weber and cooked some delicious steaks & grilled veggies. While the food was cooking, we all sat outside with a glass of wine & enjoyed the last bit of warm sun for the day. I am so thankful for wonderful parents that welcome us in & love us well.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Open spaces & bright colors

The weather has been incredible here, highs in the upper 70's and today in the mid 80's.  One of my favorite things about spring is that the first few warm days, everyone is outside, soaking up every minute of sunshine. Our neighborhood was filled with kids playing football in the yard, moms pushing strollers down the sidewalk, old men walking dogs and couples cruising on their bikes. I love that warm weather after long winters brings so much joy.

We, too, have been outside every moment we can get. Today I even took my students outside because between standardized testing and spring fever, they were itching for some fresh air & sunshine. Yesterday, Will & I spent the day working in the yard. He cranked up the chain saw and cleared out some dead bushes and limbs, while I planted flowers & herbs in some pots on our back steps. I also started clearing out a space for a veggie garden and getting the soil ready. We worked really hard, but it was so rewarding and refreshing to be outside all day. With pink cheeks and tired arms, we retreated inside as the sun started setting for a good, hearty meal (stuffed shells). 

It's been sunny and warm the whole week & I'm praying it stays like this. I've realized a few things these past few days; open spaces & bright colors do wonders for my heart. Waking up to light pouring in the bedroom windows, vibrant purple flowers on the dining room table and a backyard thats blooming makes me so joyful! 




Saturday, March 29, 2014

2 WEEKS!

I haven't written much in the past week, but not because I haven't wanted to, more because thing are crazy! I don't know about you, but around here I feel like we have already entered the spring busyness. It seems like almost every day there is some sort of event, field trip or activity at my school. Not to mention that we are all dying for a break! Spring break is in two weeks and it cannot come fast enough!

Will just finished working on a pilot and has a short break before his next show. I am thrilled because we really weren't sure if he would have another break.

We (somewhat last minute) decided that we should go somewhere for my spring break, mostly because we just realized Will would be off too & this is pretty much our only chance for a vacation for a while. Once he starts back on Sleepy Hollow, he will be working like crazy, probably until late fall. We had originally planned on a trip out west this summer, but we started to realize that probably wouldn't happen so we decided to go for something over spring break. I did some research & we booked flights to Mexico. We're headed to a small island called Isla Mujeres, which is near Cancun. I am SO excited and cannot wait for warm weather, lots of time for reading & just exploring a new place. Here is a picture of where we are headed:



So pretty much, we're just trucking along for the next two weeks until we can get here :)

Happy Saturday; hope it's a restful one!