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Posts from the ‘happiness’ Category

Tumbling Into Autumn

Finally!

My favorite time of year. I come alive in the autumn… I swear, October and November are my happiest months.

Cool temps, local apples, changing leaves, Halloween, hot oatmeal, my birthday, local greens (kale! arugula! collards!), hot lattes, festivals, winter squash, jeans, Thanksgiving… and all things PUMPKIN! These are my favorite things.

fall - backyard

Speaking of pumpkin… I have a confession to make…

My name is Angie, and I’m a hoarder.

tower pumpkin

Clearly.

I made a point to not run out this past year, as I make Lilly’s homemade dog treats with canned pumpkin. However, I just heard that we might be facing another pumpkin shortage…?!?! Say it ain’t so. (I’m going to attempt to add to my stockpile later today! If I can find it, that is).

I quickly searched “pumpkin” on my Flickr photostream … Was there a shortage of results? Definitely not…

pumpkin screenshot

Seeing as how I’m a stickler for the seasons, I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the autumnal equinox. However, it seems that I was just about the only one. Everyone these days wants things to happen faster and earlier… but not I. Just NOW can I embrace pumpkin-flavored things, and the possibility of long-sleeves (unfortunately it has still been in the 80s this week!). While I tend to shy away from sickly-sweet flavored coffee drinks, I have been hearing the siren song of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte at Sbux for weeks now. Not before the 23rd, I would declare, to anyone who would listen!

However, now that it is here… pumpkin madness starts today! I can’t wait to make my famous pumpkin butter this afternoon, among other things. To add to my joy, I have a half-day off of work today, with the afternoon set aside for recipe creations… mmm.

Stay tuned!

Our backyard, Fall 08

Welcome, fall.

~

My Grandpa’s Green Thumb

Apparently I have inherited it. I never expected to; it’s come as quite a surprise. But I couldn’t be happier. My Grandpa was an amazing gardener. My childhood memories wouldn’t be complete without his rhubarb pie, homemade pickles, grape juice, fresh berries and canned tomatoes. All grown by him in my grandparent’s backyard. My Grandma and I are freakishly similar in many ways, but it seems that quite a bit of Grandpa rubbed off on me as well. He has been gone for 14 years this May, and I think of him often. I’m sorry that we never got to experience this together. I know he’d be proud of my garden.

I had good success last year with one raised-bed garden, and some containers. This year, I upped the ante. Quite a bit.

Here is how my little garden grows…

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Garden #1 - on May 1st

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Garden #2 - on May 1st

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Garden #3 - on May 1st

And now, exactly one month later…

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Garden #1 - on June 1st

garden 2 - 1 month

Garden #2 - on June 1st

garden 3 - 1 month

Garden #3 - on June 1st

Ignore the fact that I need to weed, and that we need to mow the yard (what can I say? We were in Asheville last weekend!)

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Baby zucchini!!

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Sungolds

In the second garden #2 photo, you can see a couple of things… one of them is a hastily staked-up tomato plant, with bamboo sticks. The night before we left for Asheville brought one hell of a storm, and the next morning, I had damage control to do, while trying to rush out the door. I am going to hit Lowes up to get another folding tomato cage for it this weekend. The cone cages are far too small to fit over it now. Also, sort of tucked up underneath the big tomato plant is a tall, but skinny little Sungold tomato shoot. It broke off from the main plant during a storm, and I immediately stuck it straight into the ground. I really didn’t expect it to take (hence the poorly chosen spot), but it did. It has little baby tomatoes on it now, so I’m going to have to make the set-up work!

My garden is organic, and thus, something is already chowing down on my eggplant leaves (seen in garden #3 photo). This happened last year, but whatever it was didn’t care for the fruit (eggplant), and it didn’t seem to have much of an ill effect on the plant as a whole. I am going to try to figure out how to stop it though. The holes in the leaves make me sad! All my hard work!

basil

Pesto! Ahem... I mean basil!

cukes

Cucumbers

all gardens - 1 month

A view down the line...

Radishes!

The only thing (aside from herbs) that I’ve been able to harvest thus far has been radishes. However, check out my Sungolds… I’m thinking I will be able to pluck one of those babies and pop it straight into my mouth while working in the garden this weekend. Sustenance, right?!

~

Snip, snip!

Last Monday, I went to get my hair done… and lost about 4 inches!

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I’m loving it, but it’s taking me a while to be successful at styling it. I really don’t enjoy the round brush/blow-dry routine before work in the mornings, so that is taking some getting used to. (or not, when I skip it!). However, armed with a new hairdryer (long overdue), new round brush, new products, and some giant velcro rollers – I now feel ready to tackle it. Bring it!

I feel different after I get my hair cut. This time around, I’ve even found myself playing around with different jewelry, particularly earrings. I’ve gone a little nuts in the past couple of weeks buying things for “me”… clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc. Truth be told, it’s been lovely.

It’s no secret that the first 6 months of this year have been rough. Frankly, downright difficult, health-wise. But things are getting better. They are better. I still don’t feel like myself, but I’ll get there.

When I let my hair get long, it’s easy to forget how much I like my hair cut shorter these days. Time goes by, I get busy, and forget to get a cut. When it gets long, I get laaaaaaazy with it. I whip out the flatiron and call it a day. I also think the shorter hair fits my age better, right now. I look young *always*, but with longer hair, even more so.  In ten years I will probably be happy to look “young” again, but right now I’m a proud to look like a happy and healthy 32 year old.

This weekend Tristan and I head out of town for a fabulous long-weekend getaway for our 5th Anniversary! I can’t wait!!

~

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!

strawbs

Reading Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants

bossypants book

Easter Brunch…

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kale salad bloody mary easter4

Playground weather…

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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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PLANTS!!!

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seedlings

Getting dirt delivered for my gardens…

truck of dirt gardens

greenhouse

And… this guy…

t and a easter smooch

~

33

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.

Resolution-type things…

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions per se, but I am a compulsive list-maker and there are ALWAYS things on my “To Do” list. I seem to have a myriad of things swirling around in my brain, at all times. If I don’t commit things to paper  – BIG and small – fugetaboutit! Here are a few things that I have commited to paper, in regard to the New Year.

  • At the start of the New Year, we always decide where we are going to travel (internationally) that year. (I have to use my passport at least once a year or I start to get twitchy!). This year however, we have made a commitment to each other to save more money this year – for big, exciting things that we have planned on the horizon. We are still going to travel, oh yes indeed, but for the first three-quarters of this New Year, we are planning on doing things on a slightly smaller scale. I’m still going to see if we can get out of the country come fall, but nothing is decided yet. However, a visit back to Asheville (where we met and fell in love) is definitely first up in our book this year. With Beech Mountain, NC;  Washington D.C.; and New Orleans topping the list for our more localized travel this year.  In the past couple of years we’ve been all over… New York City (twice), Charleston, Western NY state, San Francisco, Georgia, Illinois, Jamaica and Ireland! 
  •  We are also making the commitment to have a “date night” twice a month. (I think anyone that has been in a long-term relationship/marriage understands this one!). T and I do spend a lot of quality time together, but sometimes we get busy and tired and forget how nice it is to dress up and get out of the house! We’ve made a list of new (or new to us) restaurants in the area that we want to try, and we have 10 on the list thus far. That should take us to May! 
  • I am committed to continuing with my real food/mostly vegetarian way of life.  I still like meat in my meals occasionally, and I don’t think I will ever go back to being 100% vegetarian again; and Tristan, well he was a meat ‘n potatoes guy when we met. He has been SO adventurous in the past year or so, trying new things, and eating a lot of vegetarian meals; but I still try to make meat about once a week for him. He obviously is able to eat meat for lunch during the week, and any time we go out to eat, etc. However, he has come so far in accepting this other way of life. I’m so proud of him! I think I eat meat about 4x/month now, and that works for me. 
  • I am committed to doing my backyard garden bigger and better this year, with the addition of TWO new raised garden beds. It was so much fun (and hard work!) in 2010, that I can’t wait until it’s time to plant my spring crops! 
  • Something that I am still striving for is learning to take more time for myself. I lead such a busy (read: tiring!) life, that I sometimes miss out the small things. Being able to listen to music more often, take a relaxing bath, take a cooking class, etc. are all things I would like to make time for.  I‘m a giver, and what spare time I do have, I tend to “give” away.  I am going to try to give some of that time to myself. 
  • I am working on being more positive on a day-to-day basis. It is really easy these days to slip into a funk and be cranky all day because some jackass cut me off on my way to work, or something.  I’ve always been a bit of a sarcastic pessimist (in a charming way, of course!), but these days it seems I’m often bitching and moaning about something, even if only to myself. I’m a passionate person, (Scorpio all the way!), and have always been feisty… I used to not care what others think of me – but lately, that has changed.  I want to be that feisty, spunky woman again. I seem to have retreated into my shell, but I’m coming back out in 2011!

 

~

‘Twas the week after Christmas…

… and I have been slack in my posts…

Our Christmas was completely lovely, spent with family and friends.

Here’s a recap…

Christmas Eve Tristan and I have our tradition of spending time with just each other, and each opening a gift. In addition to the gift I opened, I received a large cardboard box, with “Things that are NOT presents” written on it in Sharpie. (Clearly, they WERE presents, and T was just trying to get around the rule!).

Christmas a.m. dawned cold and bright – without the predicted snow. We opened our stockings and a few presents each, but then had to get ready to head down to his parents house for their family gathering.

Our tree, on Christmas morning

 They live about 45 minutes away, and we were expected around 10:15 am, so this hadn’t left us with much time for OUR Christmas morning. We drove separately (more on that later) and headed out. I called my parents to wish them a Merry Christmas, and before you know it, we were there. His parents have a pup named Abby, and just about the only photos I have from there are of her…? (They aren’t big photo people, unlike moi, so I try to respect that and don’t always whip out the camera).

And, of course, the famous Hendrix boys wrapping paper… this one courtesy of Gareth.

Brunch was eaten, presents were opened, and I had been busy trying to distract Abby from munching on some of V’s new legos.

Before I knew it, it was 1pm, and I needed to head back home to start cooking Christmas Dinner. Tristan headed out with his parents, brother and nephew to visit his Nana at her retirement center. (This is why we drove separately). I needed to get home, change clothes, let the dog out, apron up and get to cooking. I started on my mashed potatoes (which I then flung into the slow-cooker to stay warm and delicious – best. trick. ever.).  After that I cleaned and halved my Brussels sprouts, hardboiled some eggs (for my warm spinach salad), and started setting out the appetizers. Wine-marinated olives, sesame honey almonds, candied pecans, and baked brie with crackers and gingersnaps (so amazing with the brie!).

Tristan returned home around 3:15pm, and I put him to work doing some last minute dusting and vacuuming, etc. My parents arrived around 4:30, with Bella in tow (the pups are always a part of our celebrations!), and Lilly was trembling with excitement at all the hubbub.

My Mom brought her famous, no-holiday-is-complete-without, Sweet Potato Casserole. It is topped with oodles of butter, brown sugar and pecans – and is an old-school  family favorite. She also brought 2 pies… apple (yum!) and pumpkin. In addition to my mashed potatoes, and roasted Brussels, I had also gotten a Honey Baked Ham (not local, nor ethically sourced – but I couldn’t find any local meat for the holiday besides beef, which I didn’t want), and made a wilted spinach salad with mushrooms, red onion, egg and a bit of bacon. Dee-licous. Lots of wine was consumed… we started with Prosecco with our apps, and moved into Pinot Grigio for dinner.

While we were opening presents (so many presents!), we noticed that it was starting to snow. 

 It seems we were going to have our ‘White Christmas’ after all.

I got a lot of new things for the kitchen (14-cup Cuisinart food processor, and the SodaStream seltzer maker being my faves), and can’t wait to get started on all of my new creations.

Christmas fun…

I am back at work for Tuesday and Wednesday this week, but then have another 4-day weekend for the holiday starting tomorrow. Hooray!

O Tannenbaum

I am happy to report that it is still standing! Lilly isn’t all that interested in it… only a little. She’s been great, actually.

Here are some photos of the decorating that has occurred in the B/H household over the past couple of weeks…

Before you can decorate the tree… you have to buy it!

We bought a beautiful local NC Fraser Fir.

Tristan ponders...

Which one to choose?

It's perfect!

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 Tristan helping to trim the tree…

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Ornaments from my past… both distant, and not quite so distant…
 
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Biltmore Company ornament, 2006

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Made for me by my cousin Jason, in 1980

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Many, many ornaments painted by my Mom…

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Ornaments that represent places I have been… and places that we have discovered together…

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New ornaments for this year…

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I'm covered in lights!

It's all about teamwork!

Paradise Found

Oh my goodness… our week in Jamaica was so lovely, that I don’t yet have words to describe it. (That, and I’m extremely busy and don’t have time to do an in-depth post right now!).

So, for now… our week, in pictures…

Our flight!

Sangster Int'l Airport - Montego Bay, Jamaica

Finding our driver...

A slightly treacherous journey to Westmoreland

We stopped at The Border Jerk along the way...

Almost there! I can see the bay!

View from our front door, Cottonwood Cottage

Our table in the Treehouse

Our private beach patio

Can you believe the view?

Jamaica, in flower petals

Naptime, during a rainstorm

In our beautiful bed!

Bluefields Bay

Nothing but flip-flops!

Our pool, (at The Hermitage)

Descending into the jungle!

Exploring

Our private beach

View of our room, from balcony

Thrilled to be here!

Flora and fauna

The many doorways of The Hermitage

One of many gorgeous sunsets

Our gazebo on the water

Tristan on the beach

Sooo many lizards!

Pina Coladas... poolside!

In the pool

Dinner at sunset

Our gazebo and beach area, from the stairs

Many books were read...

I loved all the trees so near to the bay

Having dinner on the Loggia

Jungle

Sometimes it rained, but it never lasted long.

Our open-air living room

Magical
All in all, we had an absolutely amazing time. We are definitely planning to return. This is “our place” now.
The happy couple
I have HUNDREDS of photos from the trip, here

Lazy Days of Summer

A quick mid-summer update… 

 I am counting down the days until Jamaica!! We have been saving up and making our payments… which means we haven’t been doing too much in the way of fun or interesting… outside of the house, that is!  Due to the exclusivity and size of Bluefields (read: expensive and teeny tiny), we are paying for our stay upfront. We’re less than two months away from making our final payment – and after that, normal life will resume. As foreign of a concept as entirely paying ahead for a trip is to me, it will be spectacular to have it done and dusted. At that time, we’ll still have 6 weeks until we head down there. Plenty of time to shop for cute clothes and new swimsuits, and to stock up on the sunscreen!  I cannot wait to relax, swim in our private pool, hike in the mountains behind our villa, eat breakfast in bed, meet the local school children etc. It is going to be an AMAZING trip for us.   

"Our part" of Bluefields

 I have been watching my garden burn (quite literally) despite all my watering, in this ridiculous blistering heat we are having. About half of my crops are still producing, but nothing looks very attractive anymore. It was 101 in the shade here on the weekend, and my plants just can’t compete. Two out of my four tomato plants are still in the race, as well as my cucumber plant, eggplant, and all of my herbs. This coming weekend I am going to pull out a good amount, in order to plant my fall crops. 

I have been doing a lot of cooking recently, which I love, but find easy to put off when stress takes its toll during the work-week. I’m making an effort to not let that stand in my way. Cooking is fun for me, and I think I’m pretty darn good at it. In fact last night, while Tristan was helping me in the kitchen, he wondered aloud whether I might want to attend cooking school! I love it, but am not interested in working in restaurants or becoming a chef. Having my own little café has always been a dream of mine though, so you never know. But for now, I’m happy being self-taught. I love experimenting and coming up with new favorite dishes to add to our repertoire. 

 I recently purchased a “GoWearFit“,  and am loving every minute of wearing that goofy-ass arm band. I’m obsessing over my sleep efficiency, etc.  It’s completely addictive. 

 Tristan’s parents have recently adopted a little pup – named Abby. I think we inspired them to do so. I’ve passed along our Cesar book and some bits and pieces that Lilly has outgrown, etc. Our Lilly has grown into a very beautiful, very unique adolescent. She is so loving and playful… we can’t remember life without her. (Well… I remember it a bit on Sundays when it’s time to sleep in. My definition of that has changed, again. It changed when Tristan and I moved in together, and it definitely changed when Lilly came into the picture. I know it will change again in the future, once we have a child). It’s all good though. I’m loving life… albeit with a bit less sleep these days.