8 April 2013
Pinch me! We are leaving for the island of Nevis in less than two weeks!! With all of our house craziness, we haven’t been focusing on our upcoming trip too much, which is a shame, because it’s definitely deserving of some hype. It’s not too often that we get to go to a Caribbean paradise for a week of honeymoon relaxation!
In the last few days we have gotten around to making final reservations and prepping our packing lists, so I thought it would be fun to share a few of my must-takes here!
A. Jack Rogers Navajo sandals in platinum. Pretty much the only shoes I wear in the summer. Casual enough for the beach and stylish enough for dinner.
B. Boscia B.B. Cream. Just enough for beach days. I use this every day and really like it.
C. Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 40. Joanna wrote about this sunscreen here and I’m intrigued. We haven’t purchased any sunscreen yet this year, and I’m considering picking this up.
D. Striped maxi dress. $15 – can’t beat it! I like that it’s not too precious to wear to the beach but is easy and acceptable to throw on for an inside dinner. A note: unlike the photo on the website, mine is wayyyy long, so I’m getting it hemmed!
E. Favorite sunglasses.
F. Monogram tote. I’ll just be bringing a tote I already own for the beach, but this one is so cute! And reasonably priced.
G. Bathing suits! I love this emerald one I picked up from Target last year (I wrote about it here!)
H. Cameras. In addition to our iPhones, we’ll be bringing our digital camera and our film camera. (Don’t worry, we won’t be lugging all three around all the time!) The digital is great for video, and you can’t beat the look of the film for nature + detail shots.
I. My passport! With how expensive it was to update this thing after my name change, I’m glad I get to use it so soon.
J. Madras shorts. I picked these up when everything was 50% off J.Crew Factory last weekend.
K. Essie Really Red. This is the only color I paint my toe nails. I’ve considered branching out, but it’s just so perfect!
L. Laura Mercier Lip Balm in Crimson. I picked this up last year on a recommendation from Jenny, and I love it!
M. I bought a wide-brimmed black sun hat a few years ago, and I never go to the beach without it. Perfect for reading, sun protecting, and being stylish! :)
N. Lots of reading material is a must for any beach vacation of mine. Considering bringing Heft and Gone Girl, but open to your recommendations!
What do you bring on a beach vacation? Has anyone ever been to Nevis? Has anyone ever heard of it? :)
29 November 2012
Hello, friends! Something different for you today.
We worship online with Church of the Resurrection every Sunday in addition to attending our local church. Both pastors are fantastic, but I particularly felt moved by Adam Hamilton’s message this past Sunday. It was about very specific ways we can prepare for the season of Advent, and I would highly encourage you to listen to it when you have a spare half hour! Click here to do so.
Well, John and I felt even more moved to shine a light outwards this season after listening, and we’ve been discussing lots of ways we might do that ever since. I wanted to share one approach with you. I’ve been brainstorming and collecting ideas over the past few weeks for it (like from this awesome Pinterest star!), and now that I have my favorites, I’m excited to unleash them on my community! :)
I wanted to share them with you here, in the hopes that you, too, might be moved to shine your light outward this season. To treat others as better than yourself. To love others as HE does. To focus outward on the joy of giving and the things we are able to do for others, rather than inward on ourselves. We ARE blessed to be a blessing, and if we are open to the possibilities all around us for blessing others, I think we will find that we are blessed beyond measure. There is great JOY in giving!!
SO here they are! My favorite 25 ideas for showing love and kindness to the people around me this Christmas. There seem to be a lot of resources floating around for those with kids (I think Courtney’s are particularly great!), but since it’s just John and I, and I don’t think a lot of y’all have children, I wanted to focus on acts that might be better suited to those in this stage of life!
1. Pay for the person behind you in line at the drive-through of your choice
2. Leave a present in the mailbox for your mail carrier (John wanted me to clarify that it should be left near or on top of the mailbox instead of inside it, and should be clearly marked, so as to avoid mail tampering concerns…)
3. Bake and deliver goodies to someone who would appreciate the pick me up (suggestions: firemen, police officers, garbarge collectors, apartment complex office workers, those guys at the oil change place who are really nice). Doesn’t have to be fancy – boxed brownies with added chocolate chips are delicious!!
4. Donate food to a food pantry (our church collects and delivers food every week, so we’ll be taking extra this month!)
5. Keep a stash of candy canes with notes tied on in your purse, and hand them out to anyone you see who might need a little treat — cashiers, deli workers, taxi drivers…
6. Leave quarters and a note at a laundromat
7. Leave a note and the correct amount of change on a vending machine
8. Ask the librarians if you can pay someone else’s past due fee.
9. Feed parking meters (unclear whether this is technically illegal or not…)
10. Buy a gift card for groceries then turn around and hand it to the next person in line
11. Leave an extra big tip at a restaurant
12. Pick up the bill for someone else at a restaurant
13. Keep a stash of granola bars and water bottles in your car and hand them out to the homeless at stop lights.
14. Leave an encouraging message in sidewalk chalk on a neighbor’s driveway*
15. Figure out something tiny, nice, and unexpected to do for your coworkers
16. Bake something for your significant other to share with his/her coworkers
17. Buy a toy for Toys for Tots or a similar program
18. Leave a comment on every blog you frequent this month. Trust me, it will make their day, especially the smaller ones :) *
19. If you live in a cold climate, scrape ice off your neighbor’s windshield in the morning*
20. Clean out your closet and donate gently-used items to appropriate organizations*
21. Collect all of the travel-size toiletries you have lying around and deliver them to a homeless/battered women’s shelter. I hear the travel-size is perfect because the people they serve are often on the move. Call to check before you go.*
22. Bring Christmas flowers (like a poinsettia!) to a nursing home and ask the front desk staff which resident would most appreciate them. Call to check before you go.
23. Volunteer to babysit for a particularly sleep-deprived friend or relative*
24. Do a chore for someone else in your household*
25. Bring a meal to a new family or someone you know who could use an extra lift.
(And a bonus) 26. Be open to the needs and opportunities that present themselves to you. Choose to leave room in your schedule and budget to seize those opportunities, and, if you’re kind of timid like me, pray for the courage to do so! :)
The asterisks mark free activities! Many more I’ve listed are super cheap. This is not about busting the budget, it’s about showing radical love to others. (Though I DO support the idea of consciously making the decision to spend extra on things like this as opposed to fulfilling another want of our own!)
I am excited to get to giving, and will surely report back closer to Christmas! If you would like to join me, I think that would be just marvelous!! Maybe I’ll even share some of your photos (if you take them?) in my wrap-up post. Feel free to email them to me or post them to the EFM Facebook page if you feel so inclined!
Be blessed this season, friends!
29 October 2012
In order to offset all of the eating we did in Asheville, we went on several hikes! Being outside together in beautiful places is one of my and John’s favorite things, and Asheville in the fall certainly fits the bill. This year our hikes were waterfall themed, and as such, they were even lovelier than usual!
The first was Catawba Falls in Old Fort, NC, just a few miles outside of Asheville. You can find more info on this hike here and here.
This trail is ripe for discovering hidden gems. The little guy above right wasn’t even technically part of Catawba Falls, I don’t think, but was the loveliest tucked-away pool and small cascade!
Lower Catawba Falls is above. For most hikers, this is the end of the road. The trail is pretty much flat or gently sloped to this point, so it would be great for kids!
Being the adventurous sorts we are, John and I decided to hike the remaining distance to Upper Catawba Falls. And by hike, I pretty much mean rock climb, sans gear. There’s even a rope at one point! We didn’t take pictures the rest of the way up because things got even more precarious.
Cue the chorus of angels — Upper Falls!
There were two other gals enjoying the view when we arrived, and we were surprised to see a group of six middle-aged people arrive while we were resting. (Because of how challenging the description of the latter part of the hike was, and how challenging our ascent was, we hadn’t expected to see many other hikers.) The late arrivals had entered the pool in a different way than we had, which made us curious, so once we were ready to go, we set off the way they had come. After only a short (and fairly easy) distance, we joined up with our original trail. Cue face palm. We had taken a wrong turn at this point on the way up, bypassing this moderately difficult trail in favor of a much more life-endangering trail (really not exaggerating). Needless to say, the rest of our descent was uneventful.
If you attempt the hike to Upper Catawba Falls, make sure you stay to the left at every chance you get, and make sure you can always see the Falls/gorge – we got out of eyesight range when we took our wrong turn. (The only exception to this might be in summer, when there are more leaves on the trees.)
Our second hike was Crabtree Falls, at milepost 339.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was less taxing and a bit more dramatic than Catawba Falls, though I didn’t think quite as lovely. The hike is also oriented so you’re moving downhill on the out and uphill on the back, which is not my preferred mode.
For our hard work, we were rewarded with a moody sunset over the Black Mountains as we drove back down the Parkway.
I hope you enjoyed our Asheville adventures! If anyone has been to Asheville or Western North Carolina and has a hike to recommend, we’re all ears!
Note: Hiking around waterfalls is inherently dangerous. I’m sure it goes without saying, but do NOT attempt to hike directly up a waterfall, and use caution at all times whenever you’re in the vicinity of one. Also, even though we made the hike to Upper Catawba Falls more difficult than necessary, even the “easier” route is quite challenging, and should only be attempted by experienced, fit hikers.
26 October 2012
On our fifth visit to Asheville, John finally agreed to go hunting for vintage goodness with me. WAHOO! We compromised on one hour, and the clock started the minute we stepped foot into the Antique Tobacco Barn :) I had read about the Tobacco Barn on Trip Advisor, and from the reviews, I was prepared for an expansive space (77,000 square feet!), disheveled displays, and not bottom-of-the-barrel prices.
All of these things turned out to be largely true. The space WAS very large, and the displays were pretty jumbled. Usually this means great prices (like at a flea market), but unfortunately, the prices weren’t good enough to make me bite on this particular day, though there were several pieces that caught my eye. Granted, I’m pretty stingy, so some of you might very well have happily snagged some deals! Here are a few of the things that caught my eye:
The outside of the space (not really a barn) and some neat vintage-looking crown hooks – would be sweet for a little girl’s room!
A ginger gar vase has been on my running “flea market wish list” for awhile, but this one seemed a little steep at $28. I thought the giant metal stars would make neat Christmas decor!
Also on my flea market list: a natural container/basket to hold our Christmas tree. The one on the left was not quite the right size, and was a bit too much at $65. More on this search next week – I might have a lead. The colorful, oversize (about 12 inches tall) metal letters were awesome, but they were also $35 each.
I loved both of these wooden storage pieces! I thought they’d be perfect for a craft room, where there is no end to the little bits and pieces that need to be filed away. The one on the right was $295, and the one on the left was $175.
A pineapple lamp is also on my wish list, and the Tobacco Barn had quite the collection. A pair was $200, which seemed expensive to me, but maybe in retrospect isn’t so bad? I also loved the bittersweet wreaths, but we just don’t have a place to store one in our apartment in the off season – they’re a little wild and crazy.
One thing that frustrated me about the Tobacco Barn is that I would assume some of these prices were negotiable, but very few stalls seemed to have proprietors in the vicinity (unlike at a flea market), so I wasn’t sure how to go about bargaining. Boo!
Once we had left the Tobacco Barn empty-handed, we drove down the road just a minute or so to visit Oddfellows Antiques and its sister storefronts, all lined up on a loading dock just off the road (you can’t miss them). The Tobacco Barn reviewers had recommended this group as having more reasonable prices and better merchandising (an interesting combination). I found the merchandising to be true, but I’m not so sure about the prices. We moved pretty quickly through these shops, and the only thing that really caught my eye was the lovely 4×6 wool rug above right, priced at $235. The tag said it was hand-knotted in Afghanistan. I don’t think the price was too bad, but since we’re likely going to be making a major change in our living quarters in the next few months, I don’t want to buy any major pieces before we know what the new space looks like.
For those of you that have been to Asheville, any antiquing recommendations to pass along? Fellow flea market connoisseurs: what do you think of these prices?
P.S. Vintage shopping in Virginia
23 October 2012
John and I have a tradition (three years strong!) of heading out to the North Carolina mountains one weekend every fall. We usually stay in the Asheville area, though last year we tried Boone with dubious results (totally not Boone’s fault, though!). Besides the gorgeous leaves and beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, one of our favorite reasons for venturing west is the food. Asheville has a plethora of delicious eating options, and I wanted to highlight the four we sampled on this trip!
First up was the White Duck Taco Shop, which we heard about through our friends Meredith and Michael. White Duck offers up some of the most delicious (if not the most delicious) queso dip I’ve ever sampled, and their salsa isn’t too shabby, either. Of course, the tacos themselves are the stars, and they don’t disappoint. Get ready for creative and unexpected combinations like lamb gyro, buffalo chicken, BBQ carnitas, thai peanut chicken, lump crab, and mole duck. John and I tried six tacos between us, and a surprisingly small amount of food went uneaten. Happily, there’s Cheerwine on the menu with which to wash everything down!
Saturday night we had dinner at Chai Pani, which bills itself as serving “Indian street food.” Since neither John nor I have visited India, I can’t vouch for the authenticity of Chai Pani’s street food claim, but I can attest that everything we tried was delicious! We split samosas, then I ordered the Sloppy Jai (a twist on the Sloppy Joe!), and John ordered the Thali, or daily special, which was Butter Chicken when we visited. I wish we had been able to sample more of the menu, because it all looked so interesting! Think shrimp and grits Indian style, tamarind short ribs, and raspberry lassi cheesecake.
Samosas from Chai Pani’s Facebook page
We saved just enough room for a post-dinner treat from the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. The line snaked out the door and up the sidewalk when we visited around 10pm, and though we waited for about thirty minutes, I’d say it was worth it. They even had an acoustic jazz trio playing inside, so that helped the wait go by more quickly! I ended up ordering the theros olive oil chocolate cake with strawberry sauce, which was good, but in retrospect, I wish I had ordered one of their signature hot chocolates (which come in flavors like lavender and honey, cayenne and cinnamon, and masala chai!). John ordered a tea and the mint chocolate chunk brownie, and found both to be satisfying.
Our last stop of the weekend was at an old favorite of ours, Early Girl Eatery. John uncovered this gem while researching our first Asheville trip years ago (I think he spotted it in the NY Times travel section), and we’ve returned every visit since. Odds are good that John will order the BBQ pork sandwich with ginger coleslaw and the cucumber and onion salad, and I will order the cheeseburger with basil mayo and fries. (I know what you’re thinking — cheeseburger?! — but this one is AMAZING!) Everything is extraordinarily local and seasonal, and you really can taste the difference.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no visit to Asheville is complete without a visit to Early Girl… at least not for us! Two tips for your next trip: 1) Stick around even if they give you a long wait time at the hostess station. We were quoted 30-35 minutes, but ended up being seated in 4 due to no shows! 2) If there’s any sort of cobbler on the menu, order it.
I’ll be back with more soon on our hikes (waterfalls!) and antiquing adventures!