Wednesday, November 30, 2011

birthday girl

Today I turn 28.


Yep, if you paid attention this week then you realized my husband and I have birthdays just two days apart.  That means we go all out for birthday week in our home. It's birthday cake central in our kitchen.

This past year has been kind of funny. When I turned 27 a year ago, I was feeling really old.  But lately, I am kind of liking this whole "late 20's" things. A year ago all I could think about was the fact that I was three years away from 30. And even though I still joke about how I am now two years away from it, I'm kind of okay with that. I feel like this is the right fit for the place I am at in my life right now.

In my upcoming year, I hope I enjoy a lot of delicious meals. I hope I keep up with and invest in all of my current friendships and continue to form new ones in this new city. I hope I drink some delicious brews. I hope that I would keep on learning how to have patience. I hope I grow as a wife. And as an educator. I hope I continue to feel comfortable in my own skin and not care so much numbers and jean sizes.  I hope I can look back at this post in a year and feel like I was successful.

There's so much I hope for in this next year.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here's to another year!


Monday, November 28, 2011

birthday boy

Today is this handsome guy's birthday...


I'm really proud of this guy and the fact that I get to be his wife. I don't think there's anyone who is a better fit for me.

In honor of his birthday, we'll be celebrating with a dinner date, birthday cake, and of course....watching The Sing Off! Yes, my husband who hates all reality and competitive television shows, is a fan of The Sing Off. He might not admit it to you, but he's pretty excited to watch the finale on his birthday.

And as an early present (because I know he'll likely read this before he sees me this evening)....


Happy Birthday!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bavarian Apple Cake

Last week I made this cake for our "treats" day in the teacher's lounge.  My mom shared the recipe with me earlier in the fall, and I'm pretty sure this is a recipe I'll hang on to. It was a big success!

Bavarian Apple Cake

2 cups flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
5 apples, peeled and thinly sliced (approx. 4 cups)
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Combine first 7 ingredients; add apples and nuts. Spread batter into an non-greased cake pan (11 x 13). Bake 35 mins or until center springs back when touched lightly.  Allow to cool slightly and serve in squares w/ a dusting of sugar on each serving.  Yields 12-15 three inch squares.

Note: Batter will be thick and chunky.  Do not grease or flour the pan 

Pre-Bake



Finished Product


Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Monday: Om Nom Nom

This was one delicious week in our home. We just like to eat...and to eat well!

My Meals:



One of my favorite pizzas to make at home!




This week we had some brussels sprouts laying around the house and I decided to toss them in the mix. And people...that was a good call. I also left out the gorgonzola and used just a little shredded parmesan instead. And it was perfect. Thanks to Kate for that suggestion.

J's Meals:




Second time we've had this. It was spicier this time than I remembered it, but still quite tasty!



Y'all know by now that this is a favorite. Make it sometime!!



This meal was....okay? Not my favorite. But enjoyable.


Our combo meal:
Pizza (by J) and Brussels sprouts (by Rach)



Pizza was kind of a "clean out the fridge" pizza. And Brussels sprouts were essentially Ina Garten's recipe  but I added in some bacon while I roasted it plus some garlic powder. These were fantastic!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

heartbreak

I got a very sad email this week from a long time blog reader named Sara about a little girl (Ashlynn) from her small hometown who committed suicide last week.  She was only 11 years old.  Sara blogged about this sweet little girl on her blog, and her words were quite beautiful

And only a few days later, I heard on the news about a 10 year old girl in North Caroline, Jasmine, who also took her life.  The counselor at our school sent us some information about this death, and once again, I felt overwhelmed with sadness.

As a teacher, stories like this remind me to love on each of my students just a little bit more each day. Even when my nerves are shot.  Sometimes you may be the only person who is showing them any amount caring.  And as a human being, it just reminds me of the importance of kindness.  Each of these girls were so young, with a full life ahead of them, but each one chose to end that.

I know what I'm saying is nothing new, but man, it hurts to hear stories like this.  I work with kids this age on a daily basis, and to even think about this happening to a child I teach and care about, breaks my heart.  There are so many things that I bet their family and peers wish they had done differently, and so many actions and words I bet they wish they could take back.  What kills me the most is knowing these girls were too young to really even understand their actions.  To be 10 years old and and see this as your only option in life...I can't really think of a sadder scenario.

I know this post is a little scattered and not even that clear, but what I guess what I'm asking is two things.  1 - Pray for the children who feel this is their only option. Pray that they find someone in their life that they can talk to about their problems and someone who they know genuinely love and care about them. 2 - Show kindness to others. Every act of kindness impacts someone.

Ashlynn

Jasmine


Sara had this quote in her post about Ashlynn, and I think it's a nice way to end this post...

"The world is too dangerous to live in, not because of the people who do evil,
but because of the people who sit and let it happen."
-- Albert Einstein


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Asheville Getaway: Part 3

In addition to visiting The Biltmore and going hiking in the Blue Ridge, we also did a lot of relaxing and eating and drinking in Asheville!

When we started planning our little weekend away, we knew we wanted to bring the pups along.  We found a cabin on VRBO that allowed dogs. It was cozy and secluded, but only about 10 minutes from downtown Asheville.



And everyone enjoyed the relaxing!  


The city of Asheville was adorable (as everyone had warned me). It was one of those little downtowns where everyone street was filled with unique shops and restaurants.  And the fall foliage didn't hurt the charm!


After asking twitter and people I work with for advice on restaurants, we ended up enjoying some fabulous meals!  A few of the places we were really hoping to try out, just didn't end up working due to long waits.  That was a bit of a bummer, but we quickly were able to find a back up!

Thursday evening: We were hoping to have dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe after hearing many good things. However, with a 40 minute wait out in the cold? I just couldn't do it.  As we were debating where to go, my friend Erin walked by on the street with her husband!  I knew she was also in Asheville for the weekend, but running into her still was a surprise!  She suggested we go to Cucina 24, and man....we're glad she did!  We loved the food, and I was even brave and tried "crispy pig head" with my meal.  That was a first!

Friday: As I mentioned in my Biltmore post, we had lunch on Friday at the Deerpark Restaurant on the estate.  That evening, we went back downtown to have dinner at Table. This was probably my favorite restaurant of the trip.  I had seared scallops with calamari and brussels sprouts.  And for dessert? Chocolate malt cake doughnuts, coconut sorbet, and wet walnuts. Why are there not more restaurants with doughnuts incorporated into the dessert menu? Such a great idea! Only downside to Table? Very poor beer menu. They had nothing in tap, and their bottle selection just wasn't doing it to me.

Saturday: Erin sent me a text Friday evening telling us we had to try Corner Kitchen on Saturday evening if we could get a reservation.  Several people had mentioned this place to me, and we hadn't nailed down our Saturday night dinner, so we decided this would be the spot!  I am so glad we went here. Again, we had a fantastic meal. And we loved their selection of local beers. We had a French Broad Porter that I'm still thinking about.

Sunday: After sleeping in, we got up to enjoy brunch before heading out of town. We went to Early Girl Eatery which I had heard good things about from my friend Laura, as well as Katie and Emily.  There was a long wait, but I think it was well worth it. I had a country ham biscuit and J got a bbq'd pork breakfast bowl. My meal was great, his was....unique?  I think it just had too much going on for my tastes! Overall though, I really liked this little place!  



I can't wait to make another trip back to Asheville!




Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Asheville Getaway: Saturday Hiking

On Saturday, day 2 of our Asheville Adventure, we drove about an hour away from the city to go hiking right off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  

I love the mountains. Have I mentioned that before?

I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia for 5 years during college/grad school, and at the time I liked it, but I totally took it for granted. I would love to have the chance to wake up to that scenery every morning. 

We went hiking at Graveyard Fields. It wasn't that strenuous of a hike, pretty simple, and it ended with some falls.


The terrain was very odd.  The name seemed really appropriate because most of the hike really seemed like a barren graveyard.




Once we got to the top of the falls, we stopped for a break, took some photos, and ate a snack. 







The falls were pretty icy! Not much running water here.



This would be Rosie and me coming down the mountain. Both of our dogs love the outdoors!


On our way home, we stopped at a few pull offs on the parkway to take some pictures.  I wish we had been 2 weeks earlier. I bet the views of the leaves were just gorgeous then!


So much ice!



This would be why they're called the "blue" ridge mountains...



I will move back to the mountains one day. These views just take my breath away.

OH! And! I'm like a small child and this last photo really excites me...we saw a bobcat!


He was definitely more afraid of us than we were of him.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Asheville Getaway: The Biltmore

This past Thursday, J and I piled the dogs into the car, and we headed off to Asheville for the three day weekend. We have been looking forward to this weekend for awhile. We never got to take a vacation this summer due to the fact that J had just started a new job. While this was definitely a bummer, we did enjoy spending the summer exploring our new city.  Early in the fall, we knew we wanted to make a weekend getaway to the mountains at some point this fall, and Asheville sounded like the perfect destination. Neither of us had ever been there, and we've only heard rave reviews from others.  

I think it's safe to say that we both felt like the city lived up to all the wonderful things people had told us.  It was a fabulous 3 day vacation from the real world and our normal routine!

Our weekend was jam packed, so I'm going to spread out my posts.  Tonight's post: The Biltmore!

On Friday, we got up early, stopped to get some hot chocolate and coffee, and then we headed off to The Biltmore. And what a site that was!




I especially loved the Christmas decor on the lions by the front door!

We went on the tour in the house, and as others had told us, it was all very grand. Just beautiful and elegant.  It was crazy to imagine what it would be like living in this home.  We enjoyed the game of trying to figure out if our own home would fit into each room we visited.  There were definitely multiple rooms that would have held our entire two bedroom home!

You can't take pictures inside, but I found some on the web that I just love that give you a peak at how gorgeous the Christmas decorations were inside.  The dining room had a 30 foot frasier fir Christmas tree. It made me feel like a small child standing beside it!



After our tour we explored the gardens that surround the home. It was a chilly day, but actually quite nice for an afternoon stroll.






We walked to a garden across from the house and had to snap this picture.  We are pretending that this is us as we were out house hunting this weekend. Believable, right?


As I took this next picture, there was a couple who was having a picnic on the hill and we are about 99% sure they had just gotten engaged. It was pretty cute watching them. 


After our tour and our walk around the garden, we headed to lunch at Deerpark, a restaurant that sits on the grounds.  It was delicious! It was nice to not have to leave The Biltmore for lunch, and we still got to enjoy a great meal!  


This would be my very full plate of delicious food! It was sort of a mini-Thanksgiving meal to prep us for the real feast in 2 weeks!


After lunch we headed to the winery that they have on the grounds.  We sampled a few wines and enjoyed walking around here.  The sweet girl who was giving us our wine samples offered to take our picture.  Poor J...he often gets his head cut off in pictures. I guess that happens a lot when you're 6 foot 4!


I know that many of you have already visited The Biltmore, but for those of you who haven't, it's worth the trip. We're already talking about how we'd like to go back in the spring to tour the gardens when they're in full bloom.