breathe

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Today started all sorts of wrong.

My Fiddle Leaf Fig tree has not been doing well, so I have been trying to hard to help it. I bought it a warm-mist humidifier and when I got up this morning it had dropped two more leaves.

I picked up the tree skirt and vacuumed up all the needles from the tree, put the tree skirt back and a million needles fell all over my vacuumed floor and clean tree skirt. Fail.

I put Christmas lights up on my front porch and they look so cute, but they KEEP FALLING DOWN. As soon as the tree dropped needles all over my freshly vacuumed floor a noise outside startled me. Most of the lights had decided to give up and fall down onto the porch.

At this point I decided to put on some music as loud as possible because I just needed some Jesus in my frustration. But my speaker, which normally works just fine, would not play the music. It was in and out, every other word. OH MY GOODNESS. I finally just let my phone play the music.

I had to print something to mail for a friend, and it needed to be mailed today. Of course, you guessed it, my printer will not work.

So now it is 11 am. I have cried three times and feel like I have accomplished NOTHING because everything keeps going wrong. I wonder why I even got up this morning. Should I just go back to bed?

I gave up on everything, sunk down into my desk chair and started reading the devotional for todays advent.

“This is the gift that wraps up all the stresses quiet:

I will bless you.

…the weight of everything melts like thinning snow in the heat of His words: “I will bless you.” He will not burden you. He will not break you. He will bless you…”

“So slow down to feel the wind. Listen to the carols just a little bit longer. Linger in the quiet and taste the grace of now, and know that He is good and He is God. Name them in this moment – gift upon gift upon gift – and listen for the echo in everything: I will bless you.

Sigh

Breathe

So here I am at noon, with nothing accomplished in my day, but with this reminder now wrapping me up and reminding me that I am blessed. God will bless me. And all my stupid, trivial, annoying things that go wrong don’t really matter. I just need to slow down and breathe.

Breathe.

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The Greatest Gift

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I know Thanksgiving was this week, but now that everyone is in the Christmas mood, I wanted to put this out there so you could get it in time. I have read this book the past two Christmas seasons and I think its the perfect way to put your heart and mind in the right space for remembering what Christmas is really all about. Ann has a poetic voice, and the short devotionals for each day leading up to Christmas are beautiful and bring peace and focus to this crazy holiday season. There’s one short chapter for each day of December, be sure to get your copy soon so that you have it in time! I’d love to know what you think!

Weekends & Windscreens: Nashville TN

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Welcome to Music City, the destination of this weekend’s birthday bash is… Nashville Tennessee!

My friend Rachel’s birthday was Sunday, and she wanted to get away for the weekend and have an adventure. We drove through the crazy winding pass from Asheville to Nashville and went straight to Gabby’s Burgers & Fries for lunch. Jon Acuff had mentioned a few weeks ago that they were the best burgers in Nashville, and I wanted to find out for myself. It is an unimpressive location, small, and nothing you would probably take notice of if you were not intentionally looking for it. But, we knew it was what we wanted so we pushed in, ordered at the counter, and sat at the bar in an adjacent tiny room. Amazing. These burgers were perfectly cooked, dripping with cheese, and so tasty. Add to that a perfectly creamy milkshake and your lunch is all you could ask for. I would have to agree with Jon Acuff that they are some of the best. I haven’t had every burger in Nashville so I can’t compare, but I would definitely go back for more!

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We rented a quaint little air b&b for the weekend in East Nashville and on the way decided to stop at OMG (Old Made Good) a vintage boutique. We browsed for a while, taking in all the vintage treasures, crafts and handmade goods. A fun little stop.  There was still time in the afternoon so we headed over to Barista Parlor which has long been a favorite coffee shop of mine. Anytime I visit Nashville, I make sure to stop there.  The creamy iced lattes hit the spot and the afternoon drifted away as we were reading/writing/playing video games (…I don’t play video games) …

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The Shoppes On Fatherland were close to our lodging, so we perused the different boutiques and unique stores before ending the day with some Mas Tacos for dinner and drinks at The Pinewood Social.

Pinewood Social has it all. Bowling, amazing food, a great coffee shop (Crema) a swimming pool, bocce, table tennis and a comfortable outdoor area where you can sit in the warm night air and order delicious drinks from the bar. Which is what we did. I’ve heard they have the best brunch around, so I’d love to go back the next time we’re in town. I had a cocktail called “Easy like sunday morning”. A cortado (espresso & steamed milk) with Fernet-Branca and Demerara. It was warm and smooth coffee with a hint of licorice and sweetness. So delicious.

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Our final day in Nashville we splurged on donuts at Five Daughters Bakery. Famous for their “100 layer” donuts, this is not a treat you want to miss. We shared donuts with flavors of pumpkin chocolate cheese cake, vanilla bean, and glazed cranberry. The cranberry was by far my favorite. Flakey laminated dough, frosted with a sweet frosting and topped with tangy and sour cranberries coated with a sugary glaze, OMG you have to try these donuts.

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Not wanting to drive home yet, we spent the afternoon reading Pride and Prejudice sprawled out under trees dropping their red and golden leaves all around us. A perfect end to the weekend!

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What are your favorite things to do in Nashville? I’d love to hear about them!

Want more info on Nashville? Check out this book!

Want to know where I’m going next? Be sure to follow my blog to keep up with my adventures! If you have a place you’d like me to visit or a restaurant to review, let me know!

Happy travels!

 

 

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Weekends & Windscreens: Rochester, New York

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I can’t write travel blogs without blogging about my hometown can I? There are so many things I love, love, LOVE about Rochester, but to keep in tune with my weekend posts, I will simply give you a few things to do if you have a day to spend in the amazing Rochester, New York.

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It’s a Saturday morning, so of course the best place to start your day is at the Rochester Public Market.  Stop into Javas or Fuego for some coffee. I never get flavored coffees but at the market for some reason I always get an almond flavored iced latte. Both coffee shops are coincidentally right next to the most amazing bakery at the market, which you will of course have to visit.  At Flour City Bread you will find some of the best granola you have ever put into your mouth, as well as the most  light and flakey chocolate croissants you can dream of. Please. Indulge.

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Wander the different areas of the market and just take in all the sights, sounds, and smells. Don’t smell too hard in the fish area. Yuck! But the cheeses and fresh fruits & veggies and the food. Oh the food. Yes I really just go to the market to EAT. Fresh made empanadas, the best breakfast sandwiches ever, poutine if you’re lucky enough to go when the poutine truck is there… I could go on and on but I’ll let you experience it for yourself.

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What else should you do with your day? I mean I could take you to so many coffee shops and amazing places to eat, but for the sake of time, we will narrow it down. You will of course want to have lunch somewhere amazing. I would pick Esan. On the famed Park Avenue, Esan is the king of Thai food. Tom, the owner, is from Vietnam, so it doesn’t really make sense, but he is adorable, and the food is AMAZING. Although it is a very unimpressive looking spot, I promise if you like Thai food, you will love it. Sit outside if you can. Sitting outside on Park Ave is glorious. For people watching mostly. The perfect quintessential Rochester experience.

Right down the street from Esan, is Abbotts which is where you absolutely need to stop for some creamy custard. My favorite is the chocolate almond and it is one of the things I miss most about not living in NY anymore. Luckily they just opened a location in Greer, SC, which is only about an hour away. An hour for the best ice cream ever is definitely not too far to drive.

Now that you are full of thai food and custard, you can hop over to East Ave and take in a matinee at The Little Theater. Opened in 1929, this theater is a gem of downtown Rochester. They have cute little cafe where you can often find live jazz music, art exhibits, and of course movies. This intimate setting makes seeing a movie so unique. Don’t forget to grab a Naniamo Bar for a snack from the concessions stand. The only place I have ever seen these bars, and they are perfection. Chocolatey goodness with creme filling and a nutty crust.

One last stop. You definitely need a late night garbage plate! Founded in 1918, these garbage plates have been a staple of Rochester cuisine for a LONG TIME! Our favorite location to get a garbage plate is from Empire Hots in Webster, but you can find these famous plates at many establishments around Rochester. I know it sounds weird, but please believe me when I say you will find this to be quite addicting and you will find yourself craving one next week. I know I will be.

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What are your favorite things about Rochester? I’d love to hear about your travels.

What do you buy when you travel? Souvenirs? Keepsakes? Here’s a great shirt I picked up last time I was visiting.  I usually buy a hand made pottery mug in the blue/green/teal color scheme. All of my mugs “match” but are from all over the world. Every day I drink coffee from a different one and I remember my adventures.

This weekend I’m off to Nashville, so check in next week to see my Nashville post!

Happy travels!

 

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Weekends & Windscreens: Asheville, North Carolina

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Asheville, North Carolina is the place I now call home. Raised in upstate NY, it is a dramatically different place to lay my head, but in this tiny town nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains, sunsets, warm weather, and some of the weirdest people I have ever seen, I am now home.

Asheville is unique. Artistic. Hippie. Hipster. Musical. And full of beer. More breweries per capita than anywhere else in the US. If you have a day to spend in Asheville, here are some places you need to visit.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In Ahseville, its also the most desired meal to go out to eat. Lines form at any place that has a decent breakfast and you will often find yourself waiting for a table in the early morning fog. There are so many places to choose from, it is so hard to figure out where to go. For this weekend, we chose Biscuit Head. You can’t go wrong here. Huge fluffy biscuits, perfectly cooked bacon (with different flavors to thing of), gravies of any kind, and a butter/jam bar that you will not be able to resist.

Spend the afternoon at the Biltmore House. It is the largest private home in America and was built by George Vanderbilt as his vacation home in 1895. Boasting 250 rooms, the Biltmore house is nothing to be rivaled and the grounds and gardens are quite exquisite.

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Grab a cup of coffee from the newly opened Summit Coffee, before heading over to White Labs for an amazing dinner and some very interesting beer choices. As producers of the yeast that brewers use to make beer, White Labs has many beers made with different yeasts so you can taste the differences. The food is nothing to be scoffed at. It is fantastic. We shared, so we ordered several different things and then tried a bit of everything. Crispy chicken sandwich, soppressata pizza, clam pizza, poutine dripping with gravy, pecan pie, bread pudding, and donuts. All delicious.

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Finish your night off with a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to catch the sunset, or for something a little more relaxing, check out the Sky Bar. This bar is located on a fire escape, (yes a fire escape), and overlooks the mountains for a perfect view of the sunset, delicious old-timey drinks and a unique atmosphere you won’t experience anywhere else.

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Want to know more about Asheville? Check out this book, or better yet message me and I’ll give you a personal tour!

Happy Travels!

 

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Weekends & Windscreens: Charleston, South Carolina

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Let me take you to Charleston, South Carolina.

Palmetto trees line the streets as you enter the city. A horse and carriage pulls out in front of you. A tour of the city with a guide that takes you slowly around the rainbow-colored houses to the clip clop of horses hooves. You turn a corner to escape the carriage and are stopped by thousands of tourists teeming up and down King Street in search of the perfect restaurant or an amazing shopping experience. Pulling away from the throngs of King Street and you will sadly be stuck behind a golf cart. Some aristocrat want-to-be who feels the need to flaunt their wealth by zooming around Charleston at amazing speeds of 25 mph in a cart intended for a golf course not the streets of a bustling city.

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In this city lit by gas lamps, and amazing age-old architecture you find yourself dreaming of what might have been, strolling past the houses donning hues of soft pinks and peach, greens, yellows, and blues. Ancient charm oozes out of the stucco buildings. Ornate wooden doors stand proudly ornamented with door knockers that look like pineapples or palmettos. The gardens, hiding behind moss-covered walls, add to the mystery and ambiance of this southern city.

We started off the weekend at 5 Church. God bless this old church and the amazing restaurant now housed within it. Maybe that’s sacrilegious, but wow. From the old stained glass windows, to the ceilings entirely covered in writing, to the angel wing lights above the bar, the artistry of this restaurant is unbelievable. And that’s not even considering the food. We had cheesy poutine dripping with salty, flavorful gravy, $3 mimosas, and a delightful southern breakfast with flaky biscuits, crispy bacon, creamy grits, and perfectly cooked eggs.

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If you know me you know any trip is not complete without visits to multiple coffee shops. Charleston is full of enchanting places and amazing coffee. The Rise is hands down our favorite. A part of The Restoration Hotel, it is a beautiful little shop full of white marble and natural light. Sadly, The Rise was closed this weekend for an event, so we headed over to The Harbinger, which is a close second. Although in an odd part of town, very far north on King Street, this adorable shop is owned by some of the sweetest women who make amazing, amazing pastries, snacks, and coffee.

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We ended the weekend at SNOB. It stands for Slightly North of Broad, but it definitely feeds the inner snob that, come on admit it, you have. The decor is nothing to write home about, but this established restaurant does it right where it counts. Warm, sweet cornbread brought to your table. Drinks that are handsome, colorful, and delicious. The food is out of this world We ordered butternut squash bisque, oxtail gnocchi with charred corn, cilantro, mole, & feta, a duck breast with a pumpkin custard,a  plum glaze & honey thyme reduction, and pork chops with mushroom farrotto, caramelized onions & apple chutney. Every bite was heaven. We savored each flavor until we had cleaned all our plates and, although full, I wanted to pick up the gnocchi plate and lick it clean. It was the best mole I have ever tasted. Anywhere.

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While there are so many things to enjoy in Charleston, this was it for my quick weekend trip! I have many other spots that I enjoy if you want to know more just message me! Or for a great book on Charleston, click here !

Happy Travels!

 

Weekends & Windscreens: Charlotte North Carolina

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What do you do when you only have about six hours in Charlotte, North Carolina? Let me tell you!

We left Asheville early and drove the two hours to Charlotte for our day of adventure. We had to make the most of our time so we decided to go for brunch, coffee, and IKEA (and maybe more coffee). Starting off on the west side of the city, Not Just Coffee in the Atherton Mill was our first stop. The space is an old factory turned into businesses and different stores. The coffee shop is full of natural lights, plants, and so, so beautiful. We sipped lattes under an old skylight while plotting are strategy for the rest of the day.

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The next destination, Little Spoon was our choice for an amazing alfresco brunch. We enjoyed donut holes that were the perfect balance of softness and crispiness, breakfast sandwiches with thick bacon and delicious cheese, and fluffy mini biscuits with delicious gravy. The food was all excellent and beyond even what I expected from it’s reviews. If you go, try the donuts. Well worth it.

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IKEA was up next. Who doesn’t love a good trip to IKEA? We strolled the show rooms and picked up a few fun trinkets along the way. I even scored some baskets I’ve been wanting for an amazing price. Eliza ended up with an adorable plate, Danny found a tiny terrarrium, and Rachel got an amazing wicker light for her bedroom.

We finished up the trip with a quick stop at Smelly Catt Coffee where we grabbed some drinks for the road. I even got a pound of coffee that I am currently really enjoying for my morning coffee. I love buying coffee from local roasters on my trips!

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Taking a trip to Charlotte soon? Would love to hear about your adventure!

Want a good book on Charlotte with some more info? Click here !

Happy Travels!

 

 

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35 Books

It’s that time of year again. As my birthday rolls to a close here is my list of books that I read over the past year. I don’t know if it was harder that 34. I paced myself a bit better and only crammed in three books this week. Last year it was 7 I think. So hopefully that means I am improving and also that I am reading more and wasting less time…? One can only hope. I have already started War and Peace and Ulysses for next year…We’ll see if they even make it on the list of 36. Big ambitions! Anyway here’s this year’s list. Any suggestions for next year?

  1. Till We have Faces by C. S. Lewis
  2. The Lion, Witch & Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  3. Shaken by Tim Tebow
  4. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  5. The Horse & His Boy by C. S. Lewis
  6. Alice by Christina Henry
  7. Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis
  8. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
  9. All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  10. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  11. Hope Heals by Jay & Katherine Wolfe
  12. The Zookeepers Wife by Diane Ackerman
  13. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  14. The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood
  15. At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
  16. Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur
  17. The little book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
  18. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier
  19. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  20. The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn
  21. The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis
  22. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
  23. The Year of Living Danishly by Hellen Russell
  24. This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
  25. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  26. Son by Lois Lowry
  27. Messenger by Lois Lowry
  28. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
  29. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
  30. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  31. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  32. Of Mess & Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
  33. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
  34. Emma by Jane Austen
  35. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

If you want to see a mostly complete list for the past few years (beginning around 2014, click here)

eclipse

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This week was the total solar eclipse. We were very near the line of totality, so we drove down south a bit to watch at a camp near Travelers Rest. (Yes, that is the name of the town.) It was such a cool experience. There was a wide open grassy space on top of a hill so we climbed to the top to wait for the sun and moon to get into position. We hung hammocks around the edge of the woods, laid out picnic blankets, and set up so many cameras and tripods. We had arrived early because we were afraid we would get stuck in traffic, so we spent the day lounging in our hammocks, reading, eating, and just hanging out. When it finally started, we moved to the middle of the open space to watch the slow transformation. To see the moon cover the sun and change the day to night for a few seconds. We had a view over the mountains and it went from sunny blue skies, to orange and purple sunset, to dusky dark and then back to bright blue again. When it was dark all the crickets started chirping in the woods and it felt like a hot summer night. Then the sun began to slowly peak out again and within a few minutes, we had sunny skies again. Amazing.

Did you get to see it??

I also sprained my foot this week. I fell down the steep hill in my backyard while I was mowing the lawn. When I got out of urgent care, I sat in my car and cried. I feel like in four years I have made so much progress. If you didn’t know me, you probably wouldn’t even notice that I had a messed up leg. It was strong and toned and I worked hard to get it that way. I bought a house. I mow my own lawn. (well not anymore!) It doesn’t hurt a LOT. Just hurts enough. But since the feeling in that foot isn’t normal, I guess I don’t know how much it really hurts and maybe its worse that what I can feel. The blessing (?) of not having properly working nerves. But guys this is hard. I feel like I’ve gone completely back to the beginning. Which I know isn’t true, but it seems like it was then. The orthopedic originally said he thought it was something else and would require immediate surgery, but he decided to take more x-rays to make sure. I sat on the bed in the x-ray room trying not to cry because I don’t know if I can handle surgery. I know I can. I’m just not ready for it. It was so many emotions. I was so scared.

As I sat in my car crying, I looked down at my booted foot and next to it, my left gas pedal. Which I haven’t used in…I don’t know two and a half years, but I had to put it back in to get myself to urgent care. So there it was. My left foot pedal. The only way I can drive when my idiot leg decides to be blown up in a bomb and then four years later to break while mowing the DANGEROUS lawn.

But you know what? I know how to drive with my left foot. And my car is equipped for that. And you know what else? I am so good at crutches. And I know how to get myself in and out of a boot in record time. I am Boston Strong and I know how to do all these things. And this time is not even near as bad as the last time. (hopefully) And yeah I’ll be out of work for a while probably. And I’ll have to sit around a lot. But I have a lot of reading and writing to do. So I guess I can catch up. And I think it’s time for my Starbucks career to wind down, so this might be a good time of searching and seeing what God has for me next.

I told my sister this was really bad timing because I have a lot of things coming up that I have to prepare for. And she asked me when would be a good time for me to break my foot? I guess never. There’s never a good time for bad things to happen. It’s a setback. It’s frustrating. But here’s to hoping that my pain and fear doesn’t eclipse what this time could mean for me.

“Eclipses of a spiritual nature help us see things differently too. When the life we thought we’d have is blotted out by something bigger and we find ourselves in the dark, we have a choice. We can either huddle in disillusionment, fear, and isolation, or we can smile in wide-eyed wonder, opening our hearts and hands and selves to each other and to something other. What feels like a totality of darkness can actually be a totality of grace if we have eyes to see it that way or if we at least have the right kind of glasses.”
Katherine Wolfe