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Posts from the ‘Tristan’ Category

Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese

There is a chain bagel shop that Tristan and I used to frequent back when I lived in Asheville, that has been selling pumpkin cream cheese come fall for years. I introduced Tristan to it years ago – long  before I started making everything from scratch. Now mine is superior… Mwahahaha!

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Better than Bruegger’s Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese!


8 oz.  block cream cheese (I like to use the 1/3 less fat style)

3 TBSP. brown sugar

1/2 c. canned  pumpkin

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.5 tsp. cinnamon (or more to taste)

1.5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)

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Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

I generally start with a spoon, and then whip out my hand-mixer (could use stand-mixer as well – but for me it isn’t worth dirtying those components!).

Keeps in the refrigerator for 10 days.

The best part of my cream cheese (besides the taste, of course!)…? No funny ingredients! No thickeners, no added colors, no preservatives, and certainly no corn syrup!

Take a look at Bruegger’s ingredients…


No thanks.

But this… this I can do.


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Enjoy it on toast, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, bagels, or my personal favorite… pumpkin muffins! (even better when topped with my pumpkin butter!)

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Pumpkin muffin and pumpkin butter recipes to follow… 



Surprise Visitor

Look what came to visit the other day…

Can you see him?


How about now….?


While working in the yard, we found him perched on top of my portable greenhouse, but didn’t think much of it at the time. A few hours later Tristan opened our patio door and BAM! there he was. Sitting right on top of our gazebo, just a few inches from the house.


I think he wanted to play.

Or did he….? 


Asheville–Day 1

Tristan and I took Friday off from work to get an early-ish start on heading up to Asheville for our Anniversary weekend. We took Lilly to my parent’s house bright and early, and said our goodbyes. I’m getting better at leaving her each time that we do it – but it still tugs at my heartstrings. The easier it gets, the better… this woman likes to TRAVEL!

lilly sit

After heading back home to load up the car, we hit the road around 12pm. We took turns driving… chatting and dozing on the way up the mountain. Well, one of us dozed, as it wasn’t me. (I won’t post the pic I snapped of him sleeping in the passenger’s seat – that would be mean).

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As we were pulling onto I-240 we received a call from Terry at The Hill House Bed & Breakfast , that our Cottage was ready, and we could come check-in at any time. This was a pleasant surprise, as check-in was not supposed to be until 4pm. We had asked to get in earlier, and were pleased that they accommodated us!

the cottage

The Cottage looked pretty much as we remembered it, with few changes since we last stayed here in 2007. It’s a lovely little house that sits behind the “main” house of the bed & breakfast. (The structure you can see on the right, behind the Cottage, is Bill & Terry’s home). The Cottage has a kitchen, a jacuzzi tub, and a little flat-screen TV in the living area, for those of us who are CNN junkies and can’t stay away from the news! (me).

cottage living roomcottage bedroomtub skylight

The Hill House Bed & Breakfast is located in a lovely little area, off of Merrimon Ave, just about a mile from downtown Asheville.

After checking in, unpacking the car and freshening up a bit – we headed out for a late lunch. Tristan had checked out Yelp for any new and interesting spots in town, and recommended HOMEGROWN . So off we headed!


HOMEGROWN was incredible. I wasn’t starving, as I had snacked on a homemade granola bar and a Diet Coke on the journey up. (By the way, it is damn near impossible to find a cold, caffeinated beverage – sans sugar or sugar substitute in a gas station! Had I any other options, I wouldn’t have had the Diet Coke. I used to love them, but almost never drink one anymore. Only when travelling. It was a necessary evil. Ok – rant over).

I wanted to eat light, so I settled on an appetizer of Pimento Cheese w/ Veggies & Flat Bread (which Tristan was able to share) and a side of Sautéed Sesame Kale w/ Carrots. I also ordered my first Buchi, a local Asheville Kombucha.


Tristan ordered the Grilled Chicken Sandwich w/Mozzarella, Lettuce, Tomato & Watercress Pesto and probably a sweet tea (?). He sampled my kombucha  as well. I enjoyed the Buchi more before I started eating. With food, it tasted a bit more vinegary to me.

As will be the theme of the weekend, HOMEGROWN touts a farm-to-table philosophy with lots of local produce and meats. We had food from here again before our weekend was over, but more on that later!

After our late lunch, we drove around some of my old haunts… cutting through the UNCA campus, and driving by my old apartment in Historic Montford. This is where I lived in an apartment in a 100-year-old house, sans dishwasher, with a CRAZY landlady, who lived downstairs. Ah, memories.

After driving around from Montford to Biltmore Village, we stopped in at Mountain Java for an iced latte, and then we hit Greenlife Grocery (which is now owned by Whole Foods), and did some shopping. I was definitely in my element, and I think Tristan was amused at my excitement. I picked up some things that I am unable to find in Charlotte, and we chose a locally made Salted Carmel Brownie to enjoy for dessert after dinner.

anniversary afternoon

Back at the Cottage, we unpacked a bit more and just relaxed for a spell, and then opened our Anniversary gifts, before getting dressed for dinner.

Anniversary gifts


Dinner was at The Laughing Seed Cafe, in honor of our first date that took place there, 5 years ago to the day.

laughing seed

I ordered the Sweet Basil Martini, which turned out to be delicious! Look how pretty!

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(Sorry for the poor quality pics, it was really quite dark inside!)

To start we ordered the Sweet Potato Dumplings  (Crispy wontons stuffed with sweet potatoes, onions, and herbs and served over fresh greens
with wasabi ponzu sauce), 
which were yummy, if a little too fried for my taste.

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For the main course I ordered the Raw Spinach-Pesto Manicotti (Zucchini noodles stuffed with live sunflower-spinach pesto, cashew ricotta, and fresh basil served over sun-dried tomato marinara with house-marinated olives); and Tristan decided on the Mushroom Enchiladas (Button, shiitake, and cremini mushrooms roasted and tossed with avocado, tomato, and scallion, baked in whole-grain tortillas, and topped with vegan chipotle cream sauce and feta cheese. Served with black beans and a tossed salad). Both were wonderful, and I especially loved mine! I didn’t miss the cheese (or heat) at all!

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We passed on dessert, (knowing we had the brownie at the Cottage waiting for us!), and strolled around downtown a bit, before calling it a night on a lovely 5th Anniversary.


Stay tuned for recaps of days 2, 3 and 4 still to come! 

My week in pictures

Easter egg hunts…

egg hunt

… and baking Emily’s Jelly Surprise Muffins

baking with j

The Farmers Market…

frms mkt bounty

… and local STRAWBERRIES!


Reading Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants

bossypants book

Easter Brunch…

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kale salad bloody mary easter4

Playground weather…



A handsome man to pump my gas…  (NOT loving the cost though – eeeks!)

eeeks gas

Two days off work, with a day of shopping and lunch out thrown in…

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Getting dirt delivered for my gardens…

truck of dirt gardens


And… this guy…

t and a easter smooch



Last night Tristan and I had a “date night” at Cowfish Sushi & Burger Bar . Yes, Sushi and burgers. Burgushi, to be exact!



They have a really fun eclectic menu, as well as interesting cocktails and spiked milkshakes! I ordered the Thai Breeze cocktail…

menu shot

and Tristan had a Kirin Ichiban beer. We split the Crab Rangoon Dip for an appetizer… yum! Hot, gooey, and creamy with crispy wonton chips and sweet chili sauce. Not exactly healthy, but what the hell. For dinner I was craving sushi, and Tristan was feeling a burger (as always!). He chose the Cowfish Original, with Boursin cheese and avocado, and declared it he best burger he’d had in a long time. I didn’t have a bite, so I will just have to take his word on that. The sweet potato fries were dee-licious though. I must get those when I go back. For my entrée, I chose the…

Mad Mango-Cado Roll — Shrimp tempura and kani roll coated with tempura flakes, topped with slices of fresh mango and avocado. Drizzled with our signature sweet sauce.

… made with brown rice. One thing I loved about the sushi here, is that they will make it with brown rice (for $1 extra). It is difficult to find a good sushi restaurant that is willing to offer that option, in my experience.

My gigantic roll was beautiful; however, I don’t have a photo of it, because I fail at being a food blogger. (wah, waahh).

Tristan tried a Classic Chocolate shake for dessert, while I had a cup of Masala Chai hot tea to wind up our meal.

We had reservations for 7:45pm, although I’m not entirely sure they were necessary. We had heard that it can get slammed, so better safe than sorry I figured! Although we enjoyed the food and atmosphere immensely, our server was just “okay”.  She wasn’t very friendly and didn’t seem to have a lot of personality. Or perhaps she was just having an “off” night, who knows.  We were jealous of the table next to us, who had a server that was just full of life, and seemed to enjoy explaining the Cowfish concept and menu to them. Next time I want him as our server. Oh, and I want to sit on the outdoor patio!

It took us a while to jump on the Cowfish bandwagon, but now that we have, we are definitely fans. I foresee another trip there soon, for another fabulous date night!



Happy Birthday, Tristan!

Tristan at the Cliffs of Moher. (Ireland, 2009)

This is the 5th birthday of yours that we will be celebrating together. I had to stop and count because it seems like we’ve been together forever.  We missed your birthday our first year together, just by a couple of months.

I remember our first date, which we lovingly refer to as “The Awkward Seven”. For it was a day-date, first meeting type of thing, but we were both nervous and it was pretty awkward at the beginning. When I think back on it I think it’s pretty amazing that we ended up sticking it out, and are able to count our first date as our Anniversary. We’re kind of an unlikely pair… but after that first date, there was no looking back. 

Taking a break on Alcatraz island. (San Francisco, 2009)

I’m excited about our future together, and think 2011 is going to be a great year for us. There is no one I’d rather see the world with!!

Having crossed Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. (Northern Ireland, 2009)

Happy Birthday, my love! 

Sunset on Bluefields Bay. (Jamaica, 2010)


Love, me.