joyride

this evening, a few minutes before 5pm (closing time for my local post office), i jumped on the scooter to rush one final piece of mail to the drop off, as i often do. i didn’t even have time to put my coat on, but was surprised to find the air warm enough that I was still comfortable, even in my sleeveless shirt, even with the wind whipping against my skin as i buzzed down the hills of point loma. every single light was green, and what could be a 10 minute drive took me about 4, but i won’t pretend i didn’t push the speed limits too. i pulled up right in front of the door and kicked the stand into place, taking off my helmet before heading inside. it’s typically in a panic that i approach the door of the post office, half expecting to find it already locked, but today there were still a couple people being helped. after seriously hustling to complete today’s mailing, prepare the label and speed down to send it on its way, it struck me as funny to coolly set the package down on the counter and walk out as if i’d been that calm and collected all along.

walking back outside, the weather was so pleasant that i decided to do a little joy riding. point loma is amazing in that it’s a peninsula, which at its highest point is 422ft above sea level, but the streets wind down to the pacific ocean on one side and the San Diego bay on the other. so if you live on one side of the peninsula you could have an amazing bay view with downtown San Diego beyond it and some really impressive mountain ranges beyond that, and if you live on the other side of the peninsula you could have an ocean view. win/win. except if you live somewhere in the middle and only have a view of your neighbors (raising my hand). oh well. from our balcony we can see the teeniest sliver of the ocean, a little under two miles away, so i still count that as a win.

on my joyride i actually felt incredibly joyful (imagine that!) as i tried to find which street had the best city/bay view. i found a pretty good overlook at the corner of hugo and plum. i wished i had my phone for a panorama. you could see mission hills and the entire bay, city, coronado island and even down almost to the point of point loma. so good. i kept going and inexplicably i was singing “i’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts” at the top of my lungs. i decided to head to sunset cliffs. i crossed the 10 or so blocks to the other side of the peninsula and when the ocean came into view, i thought about how very lucky we are to live here. seriously, why don’t i enjoy it more? i don’t know how much longer we’re going to be here. i doubt we will live here forever. i need to get out of my house and away from my computer and get into the sun, warmth and sea as much as possible from now on. i drove down to froude street and starting noting some discoveries i was making: first, that there are some streets i haven't heard of yet in point loma. no! why is that? i should be walking them or running them or scooting them every day. i need to explore these streets. second, there are homes down by sunset cliffs that have ocean views to the west AND south based on the nature of the peninsula. that is just unfair, but really cool none the less. third, it smells like flowers everywhere right now. the air is just insane. spring has full on sprung and the roses are killing me the most.

i parked on the street right by the cliffs and walked to the edge. it was just the perfect evening. i watched the surfers catch some really good sets and i wished i could do what they do. i find it incredibly relaxing to watch them, but i know they’re working hard. on the secret beach below, three people laid in the sun with their dog. sun, waves, surfers, sunbathers and a dog. i had a revelation right then and there. we need to move into a studio on the beach and finally get our doggie. live the real beach life for awhile. i’ve already run it by luke and he agrees. so i’ll keep y’all posted.

hinton life

I guess you could say I'm officially settling in to West Virginia life.

This week I've been spending hours upon hours in any given establishment with wireless (my favorite: the Chestnut Revival coffee shop). Work has been fairly busy, so I'm grateful for that, otherwise I'm not sure what I would be doing, since Luke has been gone all day every day running another camp somewhere even MORE out in the middle of nowhere than here.

It's a different world here, for sure, but I've been enjoying observing all the little things that make this place special. First of all, the mighty New River flows directly below the town of Hinton, and we're tucked away here in the mountains, which makes for incredible scenery.

 

 

Hinton is a tiny town and people here are living a totally different lifestyle. You'd be hard pressed to find a single store open past 5pm. Luke and I have running tabs at the joints we frequent the most. In fact, Jerry and Mrs. Alice over at Kirk's Market keep a tab for us all week long and then, when it's time to settle up, they quote us some absurdly low number (last week it was $6.50 for a week's worth of meals PLUS a jar of strawberry rhubarb preserves) and won't accept more money when we try to give it to them! You guys!

 

 

One of the most incredible things I've seen here so far were the falls at Sandstone. One day I decided to follow some vague signs on the other side of the river to what I hoped would be a good place to spend the rest of my day while Luke was still at camp, and I found true refreshment for my soul. It has been so long since I've allowed myself to be in nature with no other distractions, only writing, thinking and taking the outdoors in.

 

 

There was a boardwalk over the marsh and plenty of trails, but I wanted to see the mighty falls. I passed this...

 

 

...and thought that was it. Beautiful, but not as mighty as I'd hoped. I found a little place beside a creek and wrote for a long time. Then I decided to venture a little further until I came upon the river. Looking upstream, I saw even better falls.

 

 

I veered off the beaten path and forged toward those falls, hoping for something better. To be on the banks of the water is a really comfortable place for me. My feet always feel nimble hopping from stone to stone; ducking under branches, I can move quickly over rough terrain. The house I grew up in was surrounded by woods and just a little ways up from a creek, and I would often find myself alone, trekking through the woods or along the water, daydreaming, taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. It was a beautiful place to find myself in once again. I felt like part of me that had been submerged was rising to the surface. And it was so worth it--the falls I came upon were beyond anything I was expecting to see. The sight took my breath away. And I was completely alone with God and the falls, and I knew he had led me there just to show me something beautiful.

 

 

Is there anything better than the sound or sight of rushing water? It's scary, too, to think of the sheer power that lies within that much water. But I sat on the massive rocks, knowing I was safe, knowing I was there for a reason, and stayed as long as I possibly could. What a glorious day.

 

 

Overall, I'm really happy and content here. There's something about our environment that is rejuvinating us. My relationship with Luke is being challenged and built up in incredible ways. I am so lucky that he is my one and only. To see him in his element as a coach, making connections and building mutual respect with these guys, helping them better themselves as athletes and men--it makes my heart so very proud.

 

 

It was really tough to make the decision to come here. When the question was first posed, I was so hesitant to step out of the comfort and familiarity of our life. And then when it was decided that we would do it, I was like "Couldn't it be somewhere other than West Virginia, for crying out loud?" But now I can't imagine if we didn't do this. I would encourage anyone at any time to detach themselves from what is comfortable and typical, take a risk, and place yourself outside of what is normal life. You never ever know what you will learn about the world or yourself.

 

regarding river

A couple weeks ago I posted this on my facebook wall:

 

 

Just so no one gets the impression that Luke is a big meanie, I want to expound a bit! Getting a puppy is high on our priority list, but unfortunately not an option for us right now. We're really lucky to live in an apartment that is provided for us by Luke's assistantship, but that means we have to abide by their no pet rules. Trust me, I've really tried to convince Luke otherwise. I've attempted to talk him into rebelling against the college and all their rules and get one anyway. My husband is just not a rule-breaker!

Soon enough we'll be able to bring home a pup, I hope. Luke grew up with an amazing golden retriever named Meggie and I love the stories about how kind, loyal and smart she was. I guess because of Meggie I've fallen in love with goldens, and there's absolutely no question that we'll be getting that breed when the time comes.

ALSO: though we do love the name River, shortly after we talked about it we heard of someone else naming their golden retriever puppy that very name (a soccer player Luke follows on Twitter)! Weird! So we've been re-thinking it even though we don't know these folks. Funny how that kind of thing can change your mind, just doesn't feel like it's our name anymore! Any other suggestions?

I've reverted back to my 10-year-old puppy loving self! My family didn't grow up with pets except for a short time with a black lab named Shadow. She jumped on my younger brother too much when he was a toddler, so we gave her away to a sweet old lady who owned a farm. I think Shadow was happy there!

Just look at these beauties. I want one so very very much!

 

 

25th birthday

My 25th birthday was seriously wonderful. I'm so blessed with a husband who was incredibly over-the-top in his thoughtfulness and kindness and love all weekend, an amazing family who sent me treats, wonderful friends who called/texted/facebooked and everyone who went out of their way to wish me well! Thank you so much to you all.

I thoroughly advise having your birthday on a Sunday so you can call that weekend "birthday weekend." It was very effective. Some people try to pull off the whole "birthday week" shenanigan, and I commend them. But in my experience, those around you will begin to feel suspect and it's hard to keep it going. Oh, but birthday WEEKEND is perfect. It will go something like this:

Wake up on Saturday and it will be a gorgeous, flawless day. Your husband will announce that it is birthday weekend and then treat you to a latte and a delicious egg sandwich (you all know how I love egg sandwiches!) from a local establishment. Then you will take a leisurely walk on some local trails. That will be the perfect start to birthday weekend.

Although your husband will have to spend the day in class and you the afternoon catching up on work, you will pick up on birthday festivities later on at your friend's band's show. Good music, good friends, good times.

On Sunday, don't worry if you get a little frustrated trying to decide what to wear to church as you rush to get out the door. It won't ruin your brithday. It's a perfect day outside and you'll get a pour-over coffee before church even though it makes you 7 minutes late. Your friend's band is now the worship band at church, score. Your pastor will give a rockin' sermon from the end of the book of John. You will be so happy you go to this church on your birthday. After it leaks to several people that it is your birthday, you'll get some birthday hugs. Yay!

THEN it will come to your attention that there is a Nyack street fair today! You'll get birthday treats from the street fair! There is too much awesomeness in this day. After that, you and your husband will spend the rest of the day in New York walking, shopping, and ultimately eating one of the best meals of your life. Holy smokes. This birthday rocks.

 

Here are some birthday photos!

High Line above / Chelsea Market below

The Chelsea Market was one of the coolest places ever!

Spying on some bakers

Relaxing in Madison Square Park

Ready for dinner!

We went to Craft for dinner thanks to Doug and Phyllis Gaerte who generously gave us a gift card! THANK YOU SO MUCH DOUG AND PHYLLIS! I cannot even form words that describe how good the food was. We both got seafood and had ramps for the first time (highly recommend them). I got scallops and Luke got swordfish. There was a creamy, lemony, incredible risotto that we enjoyed too. And they personalized a menu for my birthday! That was a fun surprise. I came back from the bathroom and there it was. I thought Luke had called in beforehand, but he said he had not, and then we realized they must have seen my tweet! Are you kidding me Craft?

 

So that's my birthday in a nutshell. I feel so happy and blessed by all the love shown to me this past weekend. Thank you! I love you! I'm excited to be 25. WOW, I just had that moment when it really dawns on you that you are your age...I'M 25! How did this happen?!?

 

 

Martha Stewart Weddings: Bridal Market 2011

My employer Bryn brought me along to an event at the Martha Stewart headquarters on Monday! It was so much fun! Of course, my favorite part was the food. We ate the smallest food you could ever imagine (prepared by Peter Callahan. have you seen his awesome book of mini food wonders, bite by bite?). I'm talking burgers the size of a quarter.

 

And mini fish tacos with mini margaritas in mini Patron bottles.

 

And Guinness in mini beer steins, mini sushi, mini spring rolls, mini cupcakes, and shrimp lollipops. Wow, Martha really goes all out. Rumor has it she showed up, but we missed her (darn it!). The space at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is pretty stellar though...really cool to see.

We did run into a few other people I was excited to meet: Nole from Oh So Beautiful Paper (one of my long-time favorite blogs), NYC photographer Jen Huang, and one of the sweetest -- Jillian from 100 Layer Cake, who jumped in on our photobooth photos! So from left to right is Bryn, myself, and Jillian.

My favorite part of this was when Bryn got the shutter button and prompted us by saying "We love EVERYTHING!" I was cracking up.

What's that you ask? Why, yes, I was embarrassingly underdressed for this event (see venue photo above - is that a person in an actual wedding dress in the lower left?). Maybe it's a good thing we didn't run into Martha after all. You know, in case she doesn't think fondly of people who wear jeans to her parties.

Tried not to let it take away from the fun, but it was also 150 degrees in there and that sweater is wool. Yikes! Perhaps there will be a next time. Perhaps then I'll arrive prepared. And by that I mean I'll be carrying a large tote bag to fill sneakily with bitty foodstuffs. Ain't no party like a Martha party!

Proving My Worth

So, lately I've been waiting tables to earn a little extra cash. I haven't really told anyone because, to be quite honest, I was kind of embarrassed by it. I associate myself so directly with what I do that I was afraid of the opinions of my friends/acquaintences if they knew. Sad, yes, but I think it is such a natural human tendency to consistently look to other human beings to convince us that we are likeable, that we are in a desirable place on the social ladder, that we are going somewhere, that we matter.

I'm currently reading Donald Miller's Searching for God Knows What in which he expounds on what he's dubbed the Lifeboat Theory. Simply put, we're all just trying to prove our worth to one another in much of the same way as we would if we were in a lifeboat, say, that's carrying too much weight. The group needs to throw someone overboard, so you must prove that you don't deserve that fate--you must prove you have enough value to be kept in the lifeboat. He goes on to say that God intended that we would find complete and utter satisfaction and worth in His opinion alone, but since the fall of man we have looked instead to others. It's really fascinating. And I think he's dead on. Our jobs, our clothes, our cars, the people we associate with, what we tweet or write in our facebook status updates, all these scream out to be validated by others. For me, here are just a few of the things I really try to portray in a particular light in an attempt to prove my worth:

My home. I would be really embarrassed if someone showed up unexpectedly and the apartment had everyday items strewn about on floors and surfaces or the sink held the day's dishes. When I expect company I go into a frenzy cleaning and even redecorating. I think this frustrates my husband, who would rather present a comfortably lived-in home for our guests.

My job. As I mentioned previously, I do not want to be associated with a job that's uncool. I pride myself in the environments I work in instead of being thankful I have any job at all. I have a standard and, if I were to lose my job tomorrow, I would never consider taking a job I felt to be below that standard for fear of judgement from others. I myself cast judgement on others. It's a despicable thing.

My marriage. I want the marriage everyone thinks is perfect and hopes to have themselves. I want others to think Luke and I have it all together and have amazing communication skills. The truth is I'm often a selfish and bratty wife and when I'm upset with my husband I go into a stonefaced stalemate and refuse to talk to him or resolve the issue until I "feel like it."

The books I read, the way I portray myself on the blog, the way I dress, the photos I post, the things I pin, I'm attempting to carve out an image in others' minds which portrays me as this person they might look up to, want to be, want to be friends with. It's exhausting. It's worthless. It's a rat race many of us are running and I don't know how to stop. Do you all know what I mean? Wouldn't we be so carefree if we weren't always thinking about our image? Do you share any of my same struggles? 

All that just to tell you that--anticlimactic alert--I was waiting tables, and now I'm not anymore. I quit. But not because of my image, mostly just because I remembered how horrible waitressing can be and how stupid and slow and stressed it makes you feel and how people don't leave good tips and how at the end of the day it's so not worth the toil. Waiting tables is not a fun, easy or cushy job. In fact, you should go get a job waiting tables right now just so you know how to treat your next server. So I'm mostly done there, but will continue to fill in once in awhile. I'm cool with that, it helps cover my commuting costs.

Okay, my last words are that I always want to be honest on this blog rather than just try to impress you all. I mean, I'll probably still do that too but I'll try as hard as I can to just be the real me. I hope you like the real me.

Thanks as always for reading my ramblings.

Dreaming Big

What are your big dreams? Have you decided to follow them, or has life gotten in the way? Sometimes dreams get put on the back burner because reality says you need to make more money or be more stable. Lately I can't ignore the fact that I need to bring my dreams back to the forefront and start making them a reality. The message has come in many forms and I've struggled a lot in the process. You see, when we moved here I felt like it was the perfect time to narrow down my creative abilities, my skills and my strengths, and figure out what I wanted to do so I could pursue that goal wholeheartedly. But it's easy to become afraid. Afraid of the bank account getting low, afraid of failure, afraid of how others will view you.

So I almost gave in. I met two great people who offered me a job at their well-known cake bakery. It sounded great and accepting it seemed like the logical thing to do. Luke and I need more income, I love to bake, they have a job for me--wasn't this a door that had been swung open in front of me? But I couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't right. I prayed, I wrestled, I asked God to show me what to do. I tried to figure out why I didn't feel any excitement about it. On Monday I sat quietly in a beautiful gazebo in Central Park by myself, contemplating whether I should take it or dream bigger. I thought about my life, my abilities, my passions and where I'm headed in each of them. After a long time, I looked around to take in the setting. I noticed the plaque nailed to one of the natural tree trunk beams. It said the name of the gazebo in big capital letters: "A TREE HOUSE FOR DREAMING."

This morning, Luke and I each made a list of 5 things that we really want to see happen in our lives. His #2 was for me, for my dreams to be fulfilled. My #3 was for me, for my dreams to be fulfilled. Later on I called the wonderful folks at the bakery to tell them I wasn't going to accept their offer. The best way I could explain why was to tell them I had to pursue my dreams. I don't even know what that means for me now, but I'm trusting that this leap of faith--this risk--will lead me to things bigger than I could imagine for myself. I'm excited for this season of my life and I hope this resonates with some of you, that you might give life to some of your big dreams. Remember where they came from. Remember that the one who holds your destiny gave you all your dreams, thinks they're wonderful, and wants them for you, too. I'll leave you tonight with wise words from the Avett Brothers (which, of course, I heard tonight when I was again deeply contemplating my sitch): "Decide what to be and go be it."

So simple…right?

Top photo taken by me (attaches to right end of panorama). Above panorama taken by Luke atop a water tower in Honduras.

Bright Windowsill

I'm sitting at our new (to us) desk in our bright bedroom. It is simple and light in here, not many items yet. Sunshine is dancing on the white surface of the desk, leaves from trees casting their shadows. The taste of the coffee I'm drinking is reminiscent of Honduras itself, where it originated from: a bit muddy, out of the ordinary, not what I'm used to, but delicious and endearing in its own way.

We are still, slowly, making our apartment feel like home. Trying not to break the bank as we purchase items needed to feel normal, like a couch. It's a small space, but 20 miles down the river folks are living in 90 square feet, so I'm not complaining. I like it here in Nyack very much. I like the fact we can take the train into New York City for the afternoon (still have yet to do it). I really like the fact I've seen my family twice in the past three weeks. I'm happy because Luke loves his job here. As for me, I'm off to an interview at 1. What I'd like to do with myself is still sort of beyond me, but this particular interview is at a bakery and I know I would enjoy that. We shall see.

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've updated. We finally just got internet in our apartment yesterday, so I'm looking forward to sharing with you the goings-on of our life! Bear with me. :)

A Peek in our Library

Hi everyone! I'm just popping in for a quick post today. I know when I shared our screened-in porch I said I would be back to show you photos of a couple other spaces in our home, and I'm glad I snapped a few when everything was still intact! As of right now, our house is in full-blown packing mode and looking pretty empty. I can't believe tomorrow is my last day of work and we only have 4 days until we pack the cars and go! I'm trying to stay afloat, and Luke is doing a great job keeping me sane. He has packed up so much of our house while I've been at work...and I love him for it.

Today I wanted to show you one of our joint favorite nooks of the house. In the corner of the living room is a bookshelf that houses our little library. We both love books and the idea of having a library in our future home, and this is definitely a humble beginning. There are lots of books we love that aren't seen here, but these things take time. I'll point out a couple of my favorite details while you take a closer look...

1) Budvase of lavender, memento from my best friend Mary's beautiful wedding.

2) Vintage Kodak Instamatic I found for $2 at an antique store.

3) One of the vintage dessert plates from our wedding.

4) The tiniest pewter frame for which I have not yet found the perfect tiniest photo.

5) Sailboat drawing by Mary, a wedding gift.

6) This was a "birthday present" for Luke last year. I definitely had personal motives in mind with this one.

7)  One of three globe bookends I've picked at yard sales. I guess I've started a collection.

8) Luke and I each subscribe to one magazine. My pick is Real Simple, his is Outside.

 

It's fun to walk over to the bookshelf and choose a book I haven't read in awhile. Speaking of things you haven't read in awhile, do any friends spy books that belong to you? I've been bad about returning in the past...I promise to be better!

We're off to spend a much-anticipated evening with great friends. I'm sad to leave these amazing people but so glad for the brief time we had getting to know them. I'll try to check in on Monday but I think it will be really hectic, so we'll see...have a beautiful weekend!

 

To Jammy

 I bought her when I was 19. My dad cosigned the loan. 

 

 

 

Her name, Jammy the Jetta. I paid her off in full while in college by working numerous jobs.

 

 

I saw many a beautiful sunrise, sunset, and view of the open country through her windows.

 

 

I got to know my husband driving her around on back roads. We ate subs, chatted and sang along to songs we loved.

Oh, and sometimes we napped.

 

 

She was a trooper in all kinds of weather, in the cold North on steep Centerville Road and even when snow surprised us in South Carolina, our first married winter.

 

 

Together we traveled over 60,000 miles. Many, many trips from Tunkhannock to Houghton. The long trek to and from Savannah, back and forth to Rochester, to High Point, to Charlotte.

 

 

 She's old and tired now, in need of a new clutch, exhaust line, and gasket to fix her oil leak. We couldn't afford to fix her and really don't need 2 cars in New York. I fought with luke about whose car to sell, fought to keep her, but it just made more sense to sell her. So I put her up for sale on craigslist today. Within 5 hours, we were notarizing the title and handing over the keys to James. I think she is going to serve James very, very well... but I miss her already.

 

 

Oh, and the Solar-7 is a whole 'nother story.

 

Spotlight On | Sweet_ness 7

I'm a sucker for a great coffee shop. Combine an inspiring space with strong coffee, tasty food and friendly faces, and you've got a total winner in my book. At Sweet_ness 7 in Buffalo, NY they've gone above and beyond to achieve that atmosphere. Ornate victorian-style ceilings soar above you. A gigantic industrial table sits in the middle of the room, able to seat nearly 20. Shelves line the wall behind the cafe counter. And the food is excellent. When it comes to breakfast, they're our staple--Luke and I are especially in love with their egg sandwich! Give me a homemade oversized english muffin layered with egg, melted cheese and sliced tomato and I'm a very happy girl. Add a big mug of black coffee into the mix and all you'll hear from my side of the table are happy sighs for the next 10 minutes. 

The other thing that makes this cafe so winning is its not-so-trendy location. Buffalo's west side has suffered from disinvestment for the past few decades and the surrounding neighborhoods have fallen into major disrepair. This beautiful space gives me hope for a really bright future, both for this area and Buffalo as a whole. So props to Prish Morgan, owner of Sweet_ness, for moving such a SWEET little shop into an area that needed some love! Here are a few photos I snapped on Friday when Luke and I popped in for our usual.

 

Camping at Paris Mountain State Park

This week we decided to take a couple days to camp at Paris Mountain State Park outside of Greenville, SC. It was a great time--we hiked, sat around a campfire, and did a bit of exploring Greenville's cute downtown area. After a super busy week last week, it was just what we needed!

Several of our awesome friends pitched in to get us this tent as a wedding gift. We love it.

Hiking Sulphur Springs at Paris Mtn.

Drinking homebrews before dinner at Blue Ridge Brewing Co. in downtown Greenville. 

The contraption in the photo on the left is a coffee percolator we got from my in-laws (along with a truckload of other camping gear--thanks David and Lola!). It was amazing. I think the fact that it was brewed over a fire made our cheap coffee taste great. I also loved hearing Luke's stories of camping with his family when he was younger, and how he and his brother Mitch would wait and watch for the water in the percolator to boil so the whole thing would rattle and signify their parents' coffee was ready. (PS--The photo on the right was taken at about 7:15am. How does a guy roll out of bed, throw on a baseball cap and look just as awake as a ray of sunshine? Not fair.)

One last quick hike before heading back home. Nothing like a weekday getaway to recharge for the remaining week of work. Hope you all had a great week and are getting ready to enjoy the weekend!

Tour of Savannah

In 2008 I spent the summer living in Savannah, Georgia with my dear friend Mary who was attending Savannah College of Art and Design. Today, as I brought my mother-in-law around to all my favorite spots, I snapped some photos to share with you even though I generally really dislike busting out my camera like a tourist. HOWEVER I'm obviously no longer living there, so I decided I can embrace the fact I am coming back as a tourist--only now I'm a very well-informed tourist. Now, I'm a tourist who knows all the good spots. 

Our first stop, naturally, was the best coffee shop in town: Gallery Espresso on Bull Street.

They display local artwork on the walls and fill the open space with a mishmash of old furniture. My mother-in-law got a black coffee and I got an iced black tea. I love Gallery because I remember many, many summer evenings spent outside in their chairs reading something while Mary read something else. When we had sipped the last of our coffee or tea, we rode our bikes home in the warm Savannah air.

Then I wanted to take Lola to a wonderful little market on Liberty Street. We went too far and backtracked down Abercorn Street, where we passed a tiny shop called Fabrika. I only noticed it because of the colorful bunting hanging in the window. 

I'd never seen it before, so we kept it in mind as we continued to look for Polk's Fresh Market, a small, family-owned market situated in an old garage and adjoined with a grass lot they converted into a beautiful garden in the summertime. One time they even gave me a whole bag of okra for free because I'd mentioned that I'd never had it! Really nice folks. Sadly, we never found it so we headed back to Fabrika, which was adorable. They sold fine fabrics, a few little gifts, books, cards, and lots of sewing equipment. My favorite items were some handmade aprons--specifically one made of a thin outdoor fabric that was shiny and seemed to be water repellant (or frosting/cake batter repellant, as I thought of it). The owner was friendly as she helped us cut a length of the fabric to try our own hand at the apron. I bought a little card to write a thank-you note and then we headed out, feeling happy we stumbled upon this little gem. We went on towards the hub of all the tourist action, parking our car beyond Broughton Street so we could walk down the "main drag", per se. My goal was to take Lola to one of my favorite shops ever, Nourish, on the corner of Barnard and Broughton Streets. The first amazing thing you experience when entering this shop is the aroma of all the different products. It smells fresh and natural, not at all harsh or overpowering. The second amazing thing is the feast laid out before your eyes of expertly arranged displays, vintage furniture, soft floral fabrics laid here and there, and light streaming in against the natural brick walls and wood floors. I didn't remember to snap a photo inside because I was so caught up in the greatness of it all, which is a shame. I got a bar of one of my favorite scents: Lemongrass and Rosemary. I am completely hooked on handmade soap. I want--no, NEED--to learn how to make it. Soon. Here's an image of the interior I hijacked from here

As we headed back towards the car, we stopped in a few other shops. The Savannah Bee Company was right next door, so we did a honey tasting which was lovely. Although I've been in there several times before, this is the first time I had someone guiding me through the process. Our "guide" was super friendly and definitely knew what she was talking about. We tried tupelo, sourwood, local wildflower, a creamy winter white that melted on your toungue, and the grand finale of sliced apple topped with raw honeycomb and a piece of blue cheese. During my previous visits, I was always intimidated by the apple/honeycomb/cheese plate during my self-guided tour of the honey tasting station, so I always steered clear. But my mother-in-law and I agreed that this could potentially be a life-changing snack. Seriously, it was SO GOOD. If only we could all be so lucky as to have raw honeycomb at our fingertips on a regular basis. So then I had beeswax stuck in my teeth for about 30 minutes, but I didn't so much mind since it opened my eyes to such mind-blowing tastiness. We stopped in a brand-new store on Broughton Street called Modern General which was definitely super mod, very pricey, and carried a fairly small selection of really unique products. The whole "modern general store" theme they were going for was cool, but considering their tiny inventory I'm not sure how well they'll do. By this time we were getting pretty hungry so we made our way back to the car and drove to the best lunch place in Savannah the world: ZUNZI'S.

There are no words to describe how tasty Zunzi's is. I know everything they serve must be amazing, but I've never bothered to get anything other than my go-to, the Conquistador, because it's so ridiculously awesome tasting. It's a french bread sub piled with lettuce, tomato and grilled chicken slathered in their secret Zunzi's sauce (which I think is like crack). My mother-in-law got the Fisherman's Deck, which is the only other thing from Zunzi's I've tasted because it's all that Luke has ever gotten there. It's identical to the Conquistador except it's piled with spice-rubbed salmon instead of chicken. Today we waited in the longest line I've ever seen at Zunzi's, but I also lived in town when SCAD students were on summer vacation. Considering the storefront itself is no bigger than your guest bathroom, the line moves fairly quickly. It's just a counter where you step up, order, and, magically, by the time you make your down to the register they have your delicious Conquistador and FishDeck up (yeah, I call it a FishDeck to sound more like a regular).

After we reveled for a bit in our Zunzi's we decided to head to River Street to buy Pecan Pralines, the token Savannah treat, for our hosts Larry & Rhonda. I've never really found a good reason beyond the pralines to go down to River Street. It's packed with tourists, kitschy shops and overpriced eateries. If you find yourself down there, be sure to make your way into one of the two (or both) candy shops for a praline sample. They're yummy! Pralines in hand, we hopped in the car and headed down Whitaker Street which is a one-way road headed south the whole length of town. We crossed over to Bull Street on the lower end of beautiful Forsyth Park which we followed to our last stop of the day, one of my faves, Back in the Day Bakery. This is simply a beautiful space and I love it. It has a very soft, antique feel and the wall of vintage knick knacks fascinates me. Check out the adorable tea cup succulent gardens!

 

With that we called it a day, but not before we shared a decadent lemon bar. Yum! So there you have it, my favorite spots in Savannah, Georgia. Savannah people, what'd I miss? Where do you take friends or family when they come to town?

April Girl

There's nothing quite like looking back on where you've been to put in perspective where you are now.

Last night I read through some of my old journals to contemplate where I've been on past birthdays. I laughed at myself, cried with myself and cringed at my angsty teenage troubles. I marveled at how much scripture was scribbled in the old pages--it is so apparent that the Lord has been walking with me all my life. I'm sure one day I will look back on my 24 year old self and laugh, cry, cringe and marvel all over again. Today, I will give thanks for the season I'm in now.

Some things I'm thankful for on my 24th birthday:

My wonderful family and the joy my young nieces bring.

My new family. 

The love of my husband.

A delicious birthday dinner of sushi.

This letterpress print created by someone dear to me and framed for us by my mother-in-law. It serves as a reminder to me that even when I feel unloveable, I am loved just as I am--though I can be as unpredictable as the month of April: all at once golden, cloudy, gracious, cruel, tender, roudy, soft, cold. I am ever changing, I am ever true. And I was certainly born in the right month.

Photo Credits: Mary Dougherty Photography (1, 4, 5)