Indoor Gardening

After what felt like a terribly long winter, it seems that spring has finally arrived. (Crossing my fingers.) The warm weather motivates me to get outside and cultivate flowers and our vegetable garden. We had a decent crop of veggies last summer, and I’m hoping we can replicate that success and even improve upon it this year. We’ll plant vegetables this coming weekend.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. During the course of this chilly winter, I’ve discovered how delightful it is to adopt indoor plants. They have made our home feel much more vibrant and full of life, even when the weather outside is grey and dim. Not only this, but they also have improved our health by adding oxygen to the air and filtering out toxins. What’s not to love?

This little airplant terrarium joined our collection a couple of months ago. It’s hanging next to a sunny window in our dining room.

hanging airplant

These friendly succulents took up residence in the living room. I especially like the combination of the three different plants and the bark-lined container. It brings added loveliness to the space and to every day.

succulents

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Beautiful Biltmore

A major benefit of living in the Carolinas is our convenient access to the mountains. Within just about an hour’s drive, we can be in the midst the beauty of western North Carolina, one of the most beautiful regions I’ve ever seen. An absolute gem of this area is the Biltmore Estate. Built during the opulent Gilded Age, it remains family-owned and is maintained by admission fees from visitors. It’s well worth the cost. Amazingly, the yearly membership is just slightly more than the price of a one-time visit. When Mason and I toured Biltmore for our anniversary in December, we decided to get the membership and fully enjoy the Estate for a whole year.

image of biltmore estate

Several weeks ago we drove up to Asheville with our good friends Mandy and Joshua, where we spent the day traversing the house and the tremendously beautiful grounds, famously landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead. This photo shows Biltmore’s backyard (!):

image of western NC mountains

It’s lovely to have what is essentially an English country estate (a la Downton Abbey) so close by. It’s heartening that it’s being meticulously maintained and preserved for a whole community of future generations to enjoy. We can’t wait to go back soon.

image of biltmore in black and white

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Creation & Consumption

Well hello there, little blog. It’s been a while. I’m glad to see you.

Recently I read this post on Quora, and it’s inspired me to get back to this blog and to writing regularly. As the first point mentions, I’ve been guilty of consuming more than I create, especially in my free time. With the barrage of information that’s ever at my fingertips with just a few clicks, it’s tough to get motivated to create anything of substance. It’s particularly tough because I often feel that someone else is always doing it better–whether it’s writing, cooking, photographing, or anything at all.

I’m realizing, though, that it’s not about doing it better than they are. It’s about improving myself, and working to be better than I have been. With that mindset, the weight of everything else that’s ever been done lifts off my shoulders, and I can begin where I am. I can grow.

With that, here’s to writing. Here’s to seeing. Here’s to moving forward.

image of the Liberty Bridge at night

 

Posted in Inspiration, Love, Thinkings | 2 Comments

California Dreamin’

image of golden gate bridge

I just arrived home from my first-ever trip to San Francisco, which was also my first-ever visit to lovely California. Though Mason has traveled out there for work pretty regularly over the past year, this trip was the first time I was able to join him. And I had a blast! Where do I begin? San Francisco is totally beautiful, and it’s so much fun to explore. Before I left for the trip, I set a goal to really get to know the city. And after walking dozens and dozens of blocks, I do feel like I became pretty well acquainted with this place.

image of nob hill

For the most part, I had my days to myself while Mason was working (with the wonderful Zaarly team–check out the app if you haven’t already!), and then we reunited after work. Mostly we enjoyed good food and hung out with friends in the evenings, but one night we caught a showing of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine at the Castro Theater–so fun!

While on my own, I explored neighborhoods (Nob Hill, the Mission, and Noe Valley were highlights), drank tons of amazing coffee, caught up with a friend, rode the city bus through Chinatown and North Beach, visited little boutiques (Valencia Street was adorable), and browsed bookstores. City Lights Books, famed hub for Kerouac and the beat poets, was the best one.

image of muir woods

One afternoon, I took a bus over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Muir Woods. What a majestic space. That same afternoon, I wandered around Sausalito and took in some amazing sights of the city across the bay.

image of chez panisse

But best of all was the food. Oh, the food. What fun it was to share it with Mason and friends in SF! We enjoyed so much deliciousness over the course of the week. I highly recommend any of these wonderful cafes and restaurants:

Blue Bottle Cafe • Sightglass Coffee • Tartine • Ramen Underground • Dottie’s True Blue Cafe • La Boulange • Firefly • The Creamery • Basil Canteen • Chez Panisse • Terroir • 780

image of bay bridge

San Francisco is a beautiful city, and the people there are kind and welcoming. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and would love to visit again before too long.

P.S. For more ideas and advice on San Francisco travel, check out Megan’s blog, and this post on A Cup of Jo. The ideas there helped me tons!

Posted in Adventures, Culture, Food, Inspiration, Marriage, Travel | 4 Comments

Urban Farming

image of cabbage

This past weekend, Mason and I attended our local Urban Farm Tour. Together with some good friends, we visited about a half-dozen backyard gardens. Some were located at private homes, while others were at schools and community centers. It was such an inspiring day.

image of flowers

Mason and I are attempting garden wholeheartedly this year – with a raised bed for veggies and potted herbs – and this weekend’s tour was so encouraging!

image of mint

I think events like these are really important. I got to see what strategies others are using and believe that it is possible for Mason and me to actually be gardeners. There is something vital about growing our own food and sharing our experience with others, and it’s nice to know that we don’t have to have a massive farming operation to make a difference in what we eat.

image of kale

Here’s to health and fresh, homegrown summer produce!

Posted in Adventures, Food, Inspiration, Marriage, Simple Living | 3 Comments

I Dreamed a Dream

image of concert hall

Last Sunday evening, Mason and I had the opportunity to see Les Miserables on its off-Broadway tour. What a show it was! Though familiar with the songs, I had never seen this musical live. From the first downbeat to the final triumphant chord, I was completely mesmerized. Les Mis is such a beautiful story of humanity and grace, and the musical adheres pretty closely to the book. Between the gorgeous music, amazing performers, and intricate sets, it thoroughly did the story justice.

Posted in Adventures, Inspiration, Love, Marriage, Music | 1 Comment

Happy Cows!

image of happy cow creamery

On Saturday, Mason and I took a little drive to the country to visit Happy Cow Creamery, the local dairy from which we buy most of our milk. We took a wonderfully informative tour of the farm, and we met several of these lovely creatures.

image of happy cows

It was so interesting and encouraging to hear the passion that the farmer there has for his cows. He makes sure that they are healthy and content, and he rotates the grass in his pasture with great precision so that the cows produce milk with optimum nutrition year-round. After the cows are milked, they “low-temp” pasteurize the milk, which allows the milk to be sold at grocery stores that won’t sell raw milk. However, this gentle process preserves the enzymes and proteins in the milk, making it healthier and easier to digest. (Most commercial milk is ultra-pasteurized, which kills off much of the good stuff found in cows’ milk.) I knew beforehand that I liked the milk produced by Happy Cow. Now I’m even more convinced.

After the tour, we and shopped for some local produce and, of course, dairy products. Thanks to delicious buttermilk, cheese, and ice cream, we were a couple of happy people. We had a total blast!

image of happy people

Posted in Adventures, Food, Marriage | 2 Comments

Sunny Florida

image of beach

This past weekend, I enjoyed the most amazing, restful weekend with my BFF Sarah. Quite conveniently, she lives in Florida, so I can combine a girls’ weekend with a beach weekend. Sheer perfection. Also, we are crazy:

image of katie & sarah

We enjoyed so much amazing food! The deliciousness included sushi, fish & chips, orange juice, and ice cream. Oh, the ice cream. Del’s Freez is pretty much the best ice cream on the Atlantic coast. It’s so rich and custard-y.

image of del's freez

Speaking of orange juice and ice cream, we stopped by a Hale Groves roadside market, where we bought a bunch of fresh-squeezed, unpasteurized orange juice. It is basically the best thing ever. And they had orange ice cream made with fresh orange juice! I’m not big on orange-flavored anything, because usually the taste is so artificial, but this was absolutely incredible.

image of hale's grapefruit juice

All in all, it was a great time. I got to hang out with Sarah and many other dear friends, soak up the sun, and enjoy some restful time away. Glorious.

image of sebastian inlet

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Scenery

We’ve been having some gorgeous weather lately. Spring just might be on its way, and though I know it’s unusually early, I couldn’t be more ready for it. Here are some scenes from our newly-sprung spring.

image of trees

image of sunlit book

image of sunflare

image of sunset

image of evening downtown lights

Posted in Inspiration, Photography, Simple Living | 3 Comments

Ready for Spring

Last weekend, we were blessed with some tremendously warm and sunny weather. Thus, Mason and I decided to work on improving our yard, especially our front lawn. It was a mess of poor soil, cedar mulch, and somewhat unhappy grass. We were more than ready to improve it for the spring.

Thanks to the magic of Zaarly, we got a load of bricks delivered right to our front yard! (Along with a quarter cord of firewood to help our un-used fireplace look less dismal. Pics of that later on.)

image of bricks and wood

This area of the yard had previously been a section of rock-hard clay, covered with cedar mulch and infested with tons of disorganized monkey grass. Not my favorite.  So we got to work digging, adding in organic garden soil, and creating a border using the bricks.

image of gardening

I planted some flowering groundcover, perennials, and other bulbs as well. Now we’re just waiting for it to grow. Here’s hoping!

image of finished garden

Posted in Adventures, Inspiration, Simple Living | 8 Comments