Tummy troubles?

With the holiday season in full swing (how is it already 1 week until Christmas??), I am finding myself bombarded by delicious treats left and right- at work, at home, at holiday gatherings, etc. While I try to stay smart about my food choices, I do indulge this time of year with too much dairy, sugar, and fats. And with all of that heavy, rich food (or let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just the traveling itself) I sometimes have tummy issues. If indulging/traveling leaves you a little um…irregular, I hope you’ll find these tips useful! 

One of the best things to help my body get back on track is to have a breakfast of miso broth and oatmeal. I keep the oatmeal pretty bland – my typical go-to is sliced almonds and raisins with no added sweetener. I find warm, savory liquids very comforting and because miso is packed with probiotics, it’s great for healthy digestion. I eat this same breakfast for at least 3 days in a row and and sip on ginger tea throughout the day it really helps.

When my system is really out of whack, I focus on the basics: rice, broth, bananas, steamed veggies, toast, applesauce and of course, lots of ginger and miso.

miso

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving napkins

Thanksgiving napkins

THANKSGIVING 2013!

This year Adam and I hosted dinner for my parents and sister, Evelyn. We were really looking forward to it because it was our first year to host the big day AND that it was the first year we’ve had Thanksgiving with either of our families in 5 years- we’ve done the Friendsgiving thing the last five years because we never had the time or money to travel home for such a short holiday.

My mom and sister came in on Tuesday night, and we spent all day Wednesday together (just us girls, because Adam still had to work). We ran last-minute errands, went to zumba in the morning, and went out for lunch at Foster’s Market. We also prepped the cranberry sauce, roasted beets and praline pecans for the next day.

Thursday was simply wonderful- my dad was driving up from Atlanta and wouldn’t arrive until 8pm, so we had ALL day to cook which made it incredibly relaxed. I don’t even think we started until 1pm! The only thing is that I didn’t sleep very well the night before (no real reason- just that my brain wouldn’t turn off) so I was fairly exhausted and ended up pretty punch-drunk by the end of the night which was actually hilarious and not really a problem at all.

I delegated most of the tasks, but everyone contributed significantly and it was truly joyful to spend all day in the kitchen with the ones I love. Just cooking so many dishes from start to finish is fulfilling on its own in my opinion and having each family member contribute his/her skills to each dish made the day feel so inclusive. It was like: look at what we created together! Isn’t that what this day is all about? And boy oh boy, did we laugh. A LOT! We have a total blast together and I had this moment after a particularly side-wrenching laugh when I really took notice that this is what happens when my family gets together. I know I am lucky and I just started bursting with gratitude.

Cutie Evy & her perfectly sliced fennel smile :)

Cutie Evy & her perfectly sliced fennel smile🙂

Here is our menu- some traditional and some new. If you want any of the recipes, let me know! Hope you had a wonderful holiday too!

Our pretty table

Our pretty table

 

THANKSGIVING 2013

Cocktail:

  • Ginger-cider rum punch

Punch w/ spiced rum, ginger beer, apple cider, and lemon.

Punch w/ spiced rum, ginger beer, apple cider, and lemon.

Appetizers:

  • Parsnip chips

  • Praline Pecans

  • Cranberry Goat Cheese w/ crackers

Sides:

  • Roasted beet & orange quinoa

  • Shaved fennel & apple salad

  • Sweet potato souffle’

  • Herb stuffing

  • Roasted fingerlings & brussel sprouts (w/bacon)

Yummy starches :)

Yummy starches🙂

  • Cranberry relish

  • Yeast rolls
Herb stuffing and sweet potato soufle'

Herb stuffing and sweet potato souffle’

Main:

  • Herb roasted Chicken

Our two chickens pre-roast. We decided not to do turkey because we only had 3 people eating meat and it was much cheaper while still getting the same flavors

Our two chickens pre-roast. We decided not to do turkey because we only had 3 people eating meat and it was much cheaper while still getting the same flavors.

  • Veggie loaf (Trader Joe’s)

Desserts:

  • Cinnamon-chocolate chip cupcakes w/ spiced buttercream

  • Pumpkin pie fudge

Both desserts were BOMB!

Both desserts were BOMB!

 

Another shot of our table just before we all sat down

Another shot of our table just before we all sat down

My plate about 2 seconds before I scarfed everything down :)

My plate about 2 seconds before I wolfed everything down🙂

Tired, full, and oh so happy :)

Tired, full, and oh so happy🙂

 

Fall Dinner Ideas

Oh how I love fall meals. They are so warming, hearty, and fulfilling (not to mention nutritious!) and I get to cook with my favorite produce like apples, root veggies, brussel sprouts & squash.

Here are a few of our current favorites. I’m not including any formal recipes this time because many of these meals are pretty straightforward: prepare veggies and protein (and sometimes a grain/starch) and then cook. Or they are really subject to your taste preferences, but I will include the ingredients and methods so that you can replicate them at home!

Brussel Sprout saute’:

Sliced brussel sprouts

Chopped onion & celery

Shredded carrot

Shredded apple (we used Honeycrisps)

Splash of Apple cider vinegar

Salt & pepper

Brussel sprout, carrot & Honeycrisp apple saute'

Brussel sprout, carrot & Honeycrisp apple saute’

We served this with Chicken-apple sausage (one of my all time faves!) and roasted sweet & red potatoes .

Served with a side of stone-ground mustard, this had a Ocktoberfest feel to it!

Served with a side of stone-ground mustard, this had a Ocktoberfest feel to it!

Double Mushroom-Barley Risotto and Kale with raisins & almonds:

Not the most appetizing-looking photo of a really yummy dish: mushroom barley "risotto" and kale

Not the most appetizing-looking photo of a really yummy dish: mushroom barley “risotto” and kale

We picked up some local Shitakes from the farmer’s market one weekend and decided to use them in a risotto-type dish. This was one of those meals that came together so easily because we had everything else (including dried wild mushrooms from Trader Joes) on hand. Love when that happens!

Saute’ mushrooms (reconstitute dried ones in some water or broth) and onions *

Add pearled barley and broth to pan.

Add salt and pepper (and shaved parmesan cheese) to taste.

While that cooks, toast chopped/slivered almonds in another pan.

Add kale and a bit of water. Saute’ and add raisins, salt & pepper.

*We actually didn’t like the texture of the dried mushrooms in this dish, we we will leave them out (or maybe boil them to further soften them to match the texture of the shitakes).

**Also, this dish is vegan if you leave out the parmesan and use veggie broth (we used beef broth because that’s what we had).

Shepherd’s Pie w/ Sweet Potato Crust:

Shepherd's pie with sweet potato crust. This may be my favorite fall comfort dish of them all!

Shepherd’s pie with sweet potato crust (pic of pre-baked pie). This may be my favorite fall comfort dish of them all!

For crust:

Mash together boiled sweet potatoes with a bit of butter, a dash of milk and salt & pepper.

For pie: *You can really use any combo of veggies, but this is what we used*

Saute’: Ground beef

Onions

Celery

Peas

Mushrooms

Carrots

Add liquids: Broth, Worcestershire sauce, Tamari

Add: Thyme, salt & pepper

*Sprinkle mixture with flour/whisk  to thicken up the filling before transferring to pie dish and topping with crust.

Teriyaki Salmon with Sesame Noodles & Broccoli:

In a mood for Asian flavors? This meal totally hit the spot!

In a mood for Asian flavors? This meal totally hit the spot!

This really could not be simpler.

For the noodles, I boiled udon (though soba would be legit) and shredded carrots and chopped green onions. Then I made a sauce w/ sesame oil, rice vinegar, and tamari. Mix together and put in the fridge to cool. Top with sesame seeds.

Marinate salmon in tamari, honey, red pepper flakes/Sriracha. Then place on a foil-wrapped pan and place under the broiler for 3-4 min for each side. Serve with the noodle salad and broccoli and DONE!

Chicken & Greens stuffed Sweet Potatoes:

Love that this one comes together in about 15 min. too!

Love that this one comes together in about 15 min. too!

 

Cook sweet potato in the microwave (yes, baking them in the oven would be much better, but this is faster and honestly, sometimes that is the priority!).

While that cooks, cook ground chicken/turkey/pork/beef and chopped onion in a pan.

Add greens (we used spinach this time) once meat cooks through.

Cut open the potato and pile on the filling. Serve with a dash of hot sauce across the top. YUM!

Enjoy your fall cooking!

Fall Fun

Our festive front porch

Our festive front porch

And oh what a fabulous fall it has been so far! Here are some of the fun scenes and events we’ve enjoyed this October.

The leaves are in full, vibrant color-change currently and I am in love with the changing mosaic of the trees. Check out these beauties:

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This is the gorgeous view of the forest behind our playground at school.

This is the gorgeous view of the forest behind our playground at school.

 

We got in the Halloween spirit a little early this year and had a blast decorating our house and making spooky treats:

Our front door, all ready for trick-or-treaters

Our front door, all ready for trick-or-treaters

 

Our zombie pumpkin with bulging eyes!

Our zombie pumpkin with bulging eyes!

 

"Spooky" pic of me gnashing my teeth, just like our monster apple bites

“Spooky” pic of me gnashing my teeth, just like our monster apple bites (please disregard the messy house behind me!)

 

Apple bites- we've got vampires, monsters, ogres, and ones just sticking out their tongues!

Apple bites- we’ve got vampires, monsters, ogres, and ones just sticking out their tongues!

We also went to 3 new places this month:

Beer Study

 

Beer Study: part beer store, part beer bar, all awesome! There are hundreds of beers by the bottle you can buy and drink there as well as a dozen or so on tap. Adam was in heaven!

Part beer store, part beer bar, all awesome! There are hundreds of beers by the bottle you can buy and drink there as well as a dozen or so on tap. Adam was in heaven!

 

Patterson’s Country Store:

I couldn't get enough of their vintage mason jar collection (and had a bit of fun with the settings on my camera!)

I couldn’t get enough of their vintage mason jar collection (and had a bit of fun with the settings on my camera!)

 

<3

 

Finally, we went to Fearrington Village for their annual Pumpkin Fest on 10/30. It’s a Halloween celebration with dozens of carved pumpkins, food, and drink. It was a beautiful night, kids in costumes, a great bluegrass band playing, and TONS of people milling about, so it really felt festive. We will definitely go back when it’s less crowded to check out the restaurants and shops another time. Here are a few favorites:

They had carved TURNIPS hanging from the trees- Brilliant and so beautiful!

They had carved TURNIPS hanging from the trees- Brilliant and so beautiful!

 

The drive leading into the village

The drive leading into the village

 

One of my favorite carvings. I think it's a squid-chef, and Adam thinks it's a ghost chef. What do you think?

One of my favorite carvings. I think it’s a squid-chef, and Adam thinks it’s a ghost chef. What do you think?

 

 

I seriously couldn't get enough of the turnips :)

I seriously couldn’t get enough of the turnips🙂

 

A carving of the "Belted Cows" they have on the Fearrington Farm

A carving of the “Belted Cows” they have on the Fearrington Farm

 

So intricate!

So intricate!

 

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We had to get a picture of this one too- someone is a very talented pumpkin carver!

We had to get a picture of this one too- someone is a very talented pumpkin carver!

 

One of the pretty trees, all lit up

One of the pretty trees, all lit up

 

October was great and can’t wait to see what November brings! Happy November by the way🙂

Job update

A little light reading...

A little light reading…

While there’s nothing specific to report on the job front, I wanted to write an update because I have been feeling inspired to make my goals for a more “in-sync” job a reality. There is this excited/anticipatory energy about taking a different career path that keeps bubbling up and I feel certain job descriptions or projects really speaking to me. I finally paid attention to these feelings about a year ago and since then, I’ve been striving to find out what they mean and in what direction they are pointing me. I now know that I’m not unhappy with my current job, but rather that I know there is something out there that is more me. And isn’t striving for authentic happiness in one’s career worth doing?

There are two directions I feel pulled toward: the Montessori-home consulting job that I’ve talked about already, and being an admissions/enrollment advisor for a Montessori school. As I continue to soul-search, there might be additional paths that appear, but these are the ones I am feeling now.

I’d really like to put my nose to the grindstone and make this Montessori consulting job happen, but I know there is a lot to be done first. After my first project, I realized how much I don’t know (especially about Marketing and getting a business off the ground). I don’t want to start again until I feel confident that I have some basic knowledge because I want to start on the right foot! What’s the point of starting sloppy or unprepared?

So, how will I make this happen?

I am still testing out the admission/enrollment path, but after some wonderful “go get ’em” advice from two dear friends, I decided I should follow my interest, be proactive, and find out as much as I can about what goes into this role. I am now the newest member of both the Marketing and Enrollment committees at my school. Yay for me🙂

I know I am still gleaning what it is I want to do- it’s a process of learning what is out there and most importantly, what is inside that is guiding me. It is scary to step into the unknown and takes courage to follow your dreams. I am testing out my courage and trying to practice it everyday in small ways. I want to share Sara’s wonderful post about the courage it takes to follow your dreams and what glorious results can come of it- it certainly encouraged me!

http://www.feedingthesoil.com/2013/09/a-dream-realized_30.html

I will keep you posted!

Lovin’ NC more and more!

The past four weeks have been busy and wonderful. First, my mom came up to visit, then we spent a weekend in Asheville, then we hung out with a college friend who I just found out lives about 15 minutes away the following weekend (gotta love when Facebook actually helps people connect in the real world😉 ), and this past weekend, Adam’s grandparents came up to visit. We feel so fortunate to live in a place that has so much to do and where friends and family actually want to come visit again!

The incredible Queens of the Stone Age concert in Asheville

The incredible Queens of the Stone Age concert in Asheville

 

At the Thirsty Monk (Asheville) before the concert.

At the Thirsty Monk (Asheville) before the concert.

 

Here are a few fun pictures from my mom’s visit.

 

Cool chalk drawings on the sidewalks in Hillsborough

As any good Saturday should, we started our day at Monuts Donuts. It was as delicious, if not better, than the first time we ate there. Definitely a favorite (though we’re going to have to start limiting out visits…because they are not figure-friendly in the least- oy!).

Mom waitin' in line for our donuts!

Mom waitin’ in line for our donuts!

 

Dark & Stormy, Apple Cider, and Pumpkin Chai donuts

Dark & Stormy, Apple Cider, and Pumpkin Chai donuts

After our scrumptious breakfast, we drove up to Hillsborough, a cute small town about 20 min north of Chapel Hill, to check out the Fresh Roots Festival and to explore the town because we’d heard great things. We enjoyed strolling through the streets and popping into the shops (a homebrew store and a book store were our favorites).

We even found a cafe with my name on it! :)

We even found a cafe with my name on it! They even spelled it right🙂

More sidewalk chalk art

More sidewalk chalk art

 

Me & my mommy <3

Me & my mommy❤

We eventually walked our way to Mystery Brewing, a microbrewery with a pub attached. Adam totally befriended one of the employees whose girlfriend brews there and they chatted for a bit while mom and I rested our feet. Then we took the festival bus back to the main square to listen to a local musician play and to grab some lunch.

On the bus from Mystery Brewing

On the bus from Mystery Brewing

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Mom got a faux meatball made from potatoes and cabbage and Adam and I got dumplings from Chirba Chirba (a super popular food truck in this area). We tried a few different dumplings but liked the “juicy buns” the best.

Chirba chirba!!

Chirba chirba!!

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Our faves = juicy pork dumplings

Our faves = juicy pork dumplings!

It was a great weekend!

My tiny mom makes Adam look giant! LOL

My tiny mom makes Adam look giant! LOL

Making Dreams a Reality (my first Montessori Consulting job!)

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A close-up of some of the work (pouring, spooning, wooden blocks, leaf polishing) ALMOST complete (just needed the trays which were on their way from Etsy🙂 )

A few months ago I posted about my dream jobs, explained how I wasn’t really fulfilled by my current job situation, and that being a self-employed Montessori Home Consultant would be such a great fit. I could still advocate for children while employing the Montessori Method, but I would have more day-to-day flexibility and would be using my brain in a different way. I would also be working with adults, helping families empower their children, and utilizing my creativity and budding interest in marketing and business.

Well, I put this idea out there in the cosmos, shared my dreams with some friends and colleagues, and then went back to the daily grind. Then, a few weeks before Adam and I moved from Iowa, I was contacted by a friend of a friend who has a daughter in a Montessori school! My friend told her about my “skills for hire” and she invited me to her home to put my knowledge to work! It was my first client!

She wanted to make their playroom more child-friendly, and wanted to bring some Montessori-inspired work into her home. She also wanted to use and re-purpose their toys and furniture as much as possible to cut down on the expense. We met for about an hour and she told me about her children (aged 4 and 2) and their interests and about her goals for the space. She told me about some of her daughter’s favorite work and I set about making a list of the materials required to bring them into her home.

We toured the family/children spaces and I began to see what their challenges were and offered my vision for her home. We also talked about Montessori’s theories for promoting independence (specifically that it’s often more work for the adults in the beginning, but that it’s essential for enabling children to develop skills and confidence).

Here are the BEFORE photos:

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Like many “adult-driven” playrooms, this one was over-crowded with toys, unorganized, and many of the children’s items were kept out of reach of the children who use them. It was a wonderful challenge to re-interpret the space, using her design preferences, into a space that was not only welcoming for children, but also purposeful, beautiful, and useful.

Here are the AFTER photos:

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A newly created reading nook

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If I’d been able to purchase furniture, I would’ve bought a smaller shelf and a smaller table, but I really like the way it turned out!

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Shelf in progress (as you can see, I still need a few trays before the room is complete…with this being only a few days until we moved, I forgot to bring my camera on the “REVEAL” day, so these are the most finished pics I have)

It was such a wonderful first foray into the Montessori home design/consulting world. I learned so much about how to present myself and my skills, how to prioritize items within a project, and how to create a space that meets the client’s needs that also feels authentic to Montessori. I know there will be a pretty steep learning curve, but I know I will take away many lessons from each project- and I hope to have another one soon! My next goals are to learn more about marketing and to learn the steps required to license my business.

Thanks for all the support and keep the referrals coming🙂

Our 1 year anniversary + reviews of b&b’s and restaurants in Durham, NC

This weekend Adam and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary! Can’t believe it’s been that long since our wedding- it kinda feels like it was yesterday and kinda feels like it was already 5 years ago. It was such a special day, I wish I could go back and re-live it, now that I’m not wrapped up in the details of actually being in the wedding. As much as I tried to be present that day and enjoy the moments, it was a whirlwind! Now I know why every single married person says that your actual day flies by🙂

*Some of my favorites of the two of us from our wedding*

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olas wedding pic

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Anywho…while I could look at these pics forever, on to THIS year!

We decided to spend our weekend exploring Durham, since we’re still new to the triangle and we’ve heard some great things about this up-and-coming city. On Saturday morning we drove over to Monuts Donuts, a bakery food cart turned brick-and-mortar shop in downtown. There was a line out the door when we arrived, which was both a good sign and frustrating (because we were so hungry and a fantastic donut smell was wafting outside). Here is my review:

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Monuts Donuts  – This donut shop makes donuts fresh every hour, so you’re guaranteed yummy, hot donuts whenever you want them. There are yeast and cake donuts (about 4 of each) every day, plus some daily special flavors. They also make bagels on site and you can order them with the normal toppings or with ingredients to make a breakfast sandwich (think eggs, bacon, cheese, etc., plus some fun toppings)- there are special bagel sandwiches everyday too! After deliberating the whole time we were in line, we decided to get 2 donuts each and to split a bagel sandwich. We got the plain glazed, lemon-buttermilk, cocoa cinnamon, and pistachio-nectarine donuts and a bacon, egg, and cheddar sandwich with greens and maple-sriracha spread (which was as amazing as it sounds). Everything was seriously delicious and we will definitely be going back to try their other flavors! The shop space is also adorable- brick walls with quirky art, a mix of tables, and a cute chalkboard sign displaying the day’s treats. I like the display counter too, so you can see what each donut looks like before you order.

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After our indulgent breakfast, we drove over to Li Ming Asian Market, a massive global supermarket that we’d been wanting to explore. After our trip to Thailand, we’ve become enamored with Asian ingredients and it was fun to find some of the foods we enjoyed on our trip (like fruits and candies) right here in NC. There was a deli counter that easily had 30 people in line for the dumplings, hot soups, and stir-fries, and we vowed to go back to sample the food soon!

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Excited to find the candy aisle!

Having too much fun in the candy aisle!

It turned out to be a gorgeous, sunny day, so decided to spend some time outside and drove to the Sarah Duke Gardens on the Duke campus after the market (with a pit-stop at Guglhupf for iced coffee!). The gardens were lovely- much larger than I thought they’d be! Big sprawling lawns that just begged for a picnic or a nap, a few ponds with geese and turtles, and also some winding wooded trails.

One of the many ponds in the garden

One of the many ponds in the garden

Part of the "white garden"

Part of the “white garden”

 

Mosaic-esque waterlilies

Mosaic-esque waterlilies

I especially liked the white garden, which was made up of different kinds of plants with white flowers- it seems simple, but I thought it was a neat idea. Maybe the most special part of our time in the gardens, however, was that there was a wedding being set up, and we even got to see the bridal party taking their photos. It was so sweet to see and I got a bit verklempt reflecting that a year ago that day, we were doing the exact same thing!

Just loved the saying on this sundial- perfect for an anniversary, no?

Just loved the saying on this sundial- perfect for an anniversary, no?

When we finished strolling around the gardens it was time to head to our B&B, The King’s Daughters Inn, which was only about 5 minutes away (good planning on our part😉 ). We booked a single queen room at the King’s Daughters Inn in historic Trinity Park (still needing to be thrifty!). The location was fantastic- sandwiched between the edges of both downtown and Duke. It’s a charming 1920s estate that was converted into a 17 room inn a few years ago and it looks out on a residential street on one side and the park on the other.

Outside the sunporch

Outside the sunporch

 

Just loved this little gorgeous details in the hallway

Just loved this little gorgeous details in the hallway

Our room was on the small side, but comfortable and not cramped, and we looked right onto the park, which was great. We were one of the only people staying that night, so we got to peek into the other rooms and some are pretty spacious with sitting areas or sunrooms and big bathrooms. There were actually only two minor issues: we were directly above the front-desk, so we could occasionally hear the manager talking/shuffling around and the other is that the bathroom light wasn’t in the bathroom- it was on the wall next to the door, so we kept walking into the bathroom and then having to walk back out to turn on the light. Oh, the joys of retro-fitted old buildings😉

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After unpacking and getting settled, we arranged our Afternoon Tea with the front desk. I loved that it was included in the price! We sat in the main sunroom and sipped our teas while deciding what to do with our evening before our late dinner reservation. I do wish the “snacks” that accompanied the tea had been a little better. I was hoping for tea sandwiches & scones (or at least something homemade); instead, we had macaroons, chocolate, and store bought mini chocolate chip muffins. But not bad considering it was included!

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drinkin' my tea all posh-like ;)

drinkin’ my tea all posh-like😉

We’d made late dinner reservations for Mateo bar de Tapas, because we wanted to check out/sample some other restaurants or bars before dinner, and we were trying to figure out where to go when we saw on twitter than Fullsteam Brewery (which we’d wanted to check out anyway) was having a showing of SHARKNADO, so that pretty much made our decision for us!

Fullsteam ahead to great beer!

Fullsteam ahead to great beer!

We headed to Fullsteam Brewery about 30 min before the show to get a good seat, sampled some beers (Adam had the Hula-hoop Rye IPA and I had the Cackalacky– a lighter pale ale brewed with ginger. I liked mine better!). I can’t wait to go back to try their other brews (saw there is a pumpkin ale in the works). We were also getting hungry, so we got some tacos from the food truck out front, Captain Pancho’s Tacos. We got a pollo and a pastor taco and they were so yummy we went back and got two more. Gotta love $2 tacos!

Sharknado! Can you see the shark hat "swimming" by? ;)

Sharknado! Can you see the shark hat “swimming” by?😉

Then, the real fun began. How to put Sharknado into words? Ridiculous is all I can think of. It was so unbelievably campy which made it a total blast to watch with 100 or so other people- all cheering at every over-the-top shark attack. There was a lot of high fiving. And people in shark hats.

Our evening was really well-timed, because about 10 minutes after the movie ended, we drove over to Mateo bar de Tapas and were sat at our table about 5 minutes early. It was so seamless and easy!

Some of our amazing food at Mateo

Some of our amazing food at Mateo

Man, oh man, they do food right at Mateo. It was delicious! We ordered just a few items (still satisfied from our tacos!) and again, we will be back for more! We had the datil (bacon-wrapped dates), elote (roasted corn with chili, lime, and queso fresco-so good!), marinated olives, bocadillos (essentially smoked pork sliders), and pan con tomate w/jamon (bread, crushed tomatoes, and thin slices of ham). Adam had a glass of sherry and I had a glass of bluebery-basil sangria (sounds kinda strange, but it was awesome). I’m so glad Adam tried the sherry because Mateo is known for their sherry- they have one of the largest sherry menus in the country! They offer flights so you can sample a few different types, and I would  love to try that next time because I enjoyed the sip I had of his. The food was all spectacular, the space was relaxed, dark and romantic and had a gorgeous bar with these awesome glass bottle pendant lights- as we were sipping the ends of our drinks, we were in a total love bubble and it was a perfect way to spend our night.

Snuggling together after our fantastic meal

Snuggling together after our fantastic meal

love the bar!

love the bar!

 

Then we drove the 5 minutes back to the inn, climbed into the comfy robes, and enjoyed the complementary port and truffles that were left for us with the turn down service.

Comfy robes + port  + truffles= awesome way to end an awesome night!

Comfy robes + port + truffles= awesome way to end an awesome night!

The next morning we ordered breakfast in bed, which was an over-due luxury (none of the hotels on our honeymoon offered it and it is usually so expensive that we never get it!). It arrived promptly when we ordered it and was still warm. I loved the homemade cheddar-pepper biscuits! Before we knew it, it was time to check out and head back home. We picked up a few groceries, prepared our dessert, and headed back out.

Breakfast in bed! Woot :)

Breakfast in bed! Woot🙂

We actually had an event for my school to attend on Sunday afternoon, so we ended up having dinner there and just came home in time to assemble our dessert, old school, southern banana pudding. We popped open the champagne Adam surprised me with, read our wedding vows to each other, and fed each other a bite of banana pudding, just like at our wedding.

a new tradition...next time I'd like to make more than just the whipped cream at home, but it sure was tasty!

a new tradition…next time I’d like to make more than just the whipped cream at home, but it sure was tasty!

I couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary and I can’t wait for many more!❤

Our first 6 weeks in pictures

Driving down to NC

Driving down to NC

Gorgeous mountains in Virginia

Gorgeous mountains in Virginia

Crossing the NC state line felt so good- we made it!

Crossing the NC state line felt so good- we made it!

Another stunner from the NC botanical garden on our first day (and my bday)

Another stunner from the NC botanical garden on our first day (and my bday)

More from the botanical garden

More from the botanical garden

My family was passing through from on a trip, so they came to visit us  for a night on our 3rd day here!

My family was passing through from on a trip, so they came to visit us for a night on our 3rd day here! This was after a great meal at the Mediterranean Deli.

We didn't have a couch or any tables for a few days, so I pretty much parked it right here on our kitchen window seat (with a book and some coffee! :) )

We didn’t have a couch or any tables for a few days, so I pretty much parked it right here on our kitchen window seat (with a book and some coffee!🙂 )

Then Adam's family came to visit! They brought up more furniture and boxes...Here is Adam's dad and Adam putting together either the desk or the entertainment unit...Hard to remember which because they built so much that day!

Then Adam’s family came to visit! They brought up more furniture and boxes…Here is Adam’s dad and Adam putting together either the desk or the entertainment unit…Hard to remember which because they built so much that day!

Oh the joys of putting furniture together!

Oh the joys of putting furniture together!

Putting the entertainment unit into place.

Putting the entertainment unit into place.

Family all squeezed in on our loveseat :)

Family all squeezed in on our loveseat🙂

It's always a fun time together :)

It’s always a fun time together🙂

After our first trip to the Farmer's Market, I made a summer vegetable chowder: corn, basil, potatoes, carrots, sunsweet tomatoes, and onion. ALL from the market! It was delish!

After our first trip to the Farmer’s Market, I made a summer vegetable chowder: corn, basil, potatoes, carrots, sunsweet tomatoes, and onion. ALL from the market! It was delish!

Another project: putting up a ceiling fan in our bedroom (our 2nd story bedroom gets afternoon sun, so it's hot up there!)

Another project: putting up a ceiling fan in our bedroom (our 2nd story bedroom gets afternoon sun, so it’s hot up there!)

A young deer grazing in our neighborhood!

A young deer grazing in our neighborhood!

Finally, my parents came back up for a 3-day visit and brought our remaining boxes and some chairs. We made a fantastic meal together, chatted for hours, and played scrabble. <3

Finally, my parents came back up for a 3-day visit and brought our remaining boxes and some chairs. We made a fantastic meal together, chatted for hours, and played scrabble.❤

I need to be better about taking more photos- there is so much to document🙂 Thanks for looking!

Our first month

Wow, a month ago today was our first day in North Carolina!! Here’s a bit about what we’ve done this month.

Stunning sunflowers and bees at the NC botanical garden!

Stunning sunflowers and bees at the NC botanical garden!

It’s been raining quite a bit this summer (and we’re broke!), so we haven’t been able to get out and do as much as we’ve wanted to. But we’ve still seen/visited:

Chapel Hill and Durham farmer’s markets. Next we’ve got to try the Raleigh and Carborro ones!

North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh

and the Chapel Hill Community Rose Garden.

We’ve also gone out to eat a few times to try some local favorites in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh. Here is my quick opinion and rating:

Sunrise Biscuits (the chicken biscuit knocks Chick-fil-a’s out of the park). Great! Will definitely go again.

Weathervane restaurant (local, southern fare like NC trout, fried green tomatoes, and shrimp&grits) Great! Will definitely go again & will order the shrimp and grits and the peach fritters w/salted caramel sauce.

Cinnamon Cocoa (for specialty coffees-I didn’t really like my drink and the prices were high…also a bit pretentious). Eh, might give them a second try because there is a lot of hype, but not a big fan of my first trip.

Guglhupf bakery (German bakery and cafe- one of the best lattes ever, great specialty tea bevs, and pastries). Great! Will definitely go again.

Bangkok 54 (Thai-we had chicken satay, pad thai, and veggie red curry). Decent food and decent price, but not spectacular. Will probably go again, but not before trying the other Thai options in town.

Pho far east (Vietnamese-had pho, obviously :)). Great pho, small restaurant and packed with people. Will definitely go again.

It feels like time has both sped up and slowed down- things are getting more familiar and comfortable everyday (exponentially it seems), especially now that we’re both on our working schedules. I am finally able to write at home (hooray for internet!!!!), but since it’s my first night off since Sunday, I’m spending it cooking.

Cilantro-lime marinated chicken and chipotle-mashed sweet potatoes is on the menu tonight.🙂 If its a success, you can expect a recipe soon!

So, speaking of working, I wanted to update you on my job(s)! I am officially 1.5 weeks into being a Toddler Assistant Teacher at a local Montessori school and I am loving it. It is quite inspiring to see children under two working- be it pouring themselves a glass of water at snack, mastering the skill of climbing steps on our stair set, or learning the names of different types of vehicles with a book or cards. Since I have the 3-6yr. training, I am fascinated to witness the process children go through to get to the place they’re in when I usually met them, which was around 3. Children, especially young children are far more capable than we all give them credit for. I’ve intuitively known that because of my training, but it is wonderful to see it in practice. I know that I will learn so much about young children because of this experience and I can’t wait to know everything I’ll learn!

Because our school only offers the Toddler program in the mornings, I decided to get another job in the afternoons. Adam and I have a lot to save for (travel, buying our first house, having babies eventually), so I thought it was the right decision to use that available time to work.  I am now a cashier at our local (and fabulous) gourmet grocery store, Southern Seasons. It, too, is wonderful! My fellow employees are helpful and easy to get along with, I get to completely geek-out with the customers about gourmet/ethnic foods and culinary supplies, and I get adult time, which is very satisfying.

The only challenge so far is balancing my schedule. Working with young children is incredibly tiring, even if it is fulfilling, wonderful, etc. If you’ve done it, you know this, and if you haven’t, multiply how hard you think it is by about 5 and you’ll be close. Right now I work from 7:30-1:30 at school and then 3-9 at S.S., which means I have 14 hr days three to four days a week. I am pretty exhausted, but I’m happy too, so I’ll just see how it goes. If after a month, I’m still strapped for time and feeling too rushed/stressed, then I’ll re-evaluate.

Can’t wait to see what this next month brings!