Tuesday, January 27, 2015

mountain love

song pair: Rocky Mountain High by John Denver

oh, asheville...we sunk right into your charm. it was our first wintry vacation and we sincerely enjoyed it. embracing the chill, we bundled up and kept each other toasty. having a mostly non scheduled few days was quite restorative. we wandered in and out of shops, stopping for snacks and cocktails often. we saw two theater movies in four nights. i bought a pair of shoes. we munched on a bag of bulk candy from an old fashioned candy shop. we had two fancy dinners and two very casual ones. i had a different chai tea every morning, that is my favorite part of the day. we spent an afternoon at the Grove Park Spa where i experienced an 80 minute facial of my dreams. the grotto inspired spa is luxurious. they play music under water so you can float on your back and absorb classical tunes. the place is a natural sedative. on the only drizzly day, we met southern gent's parents and aunt & uncle to tour and wine taste at the Biltmore. a lovely escape. 

having the dogs with us was so much fun. we broke all the usual rules. at home they are restricted from furniture and our bed. in our dog friendly hotel, we invited them to bunk with us. they were in heaven. we scouted out pet friendly restaurants and they also joined us for some meals. bacon for breakfast was a real treat. 

our favorite Asheville spots

sunny point cafe
early girl
over easy cafe

white duck taco shop: you must have a shrimp taco

salsas: latin american
the admiral: hipster vibe. order the dates as a starter
curate: spanish tapas
plant: vegan

the imperial life
lex 18
MG road. order a cheese plate
sovereign remedies

wicked weed. order a french 75 beer
the lab

french broad. order a lavender hot chocolate 

*we also have a growing list of places to try on our next asheville excursion!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January: doing things differently

song pair: Stolen Dance by Milky Chance

a few more things i have been doing differently:

i am going to Trader Joe's every Wednesday. i think the reason i was so late on the Trader Joe's train, was every time i attempted it was a weekend. the parking lot and cart crashing were overwhelming, so i shied away. i love crowds, but not at a grocery store. wednesdays are a whole new adventure. on hump day it is much more of a pleasant place where i can browse and enjoy. in terms of food, i am a displaced citizen. american foods are not my favorite. my favorite flavors come out of china, thailand, india and the mediterranean. TJ's has wonderful cuisine from all over the country. it has been fantastic to have more food varieties in our home.

i am bringing fresh vegetables to the office. i have always been a brown bag girl. packing my lunch comes naturally. usually a sandwich. last year, i was on a cracker kick. the type of cracker changed often, but the crunch was a nice complement to my hoagie. i have started packing fresh veggies as a substitute. it's delish and the snap mimics that of a cracker. a little hummus on the side is just what i need for some extra flavor.

have you started doing something differently?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

january: doing things different 2

song pair: Come With Me Now by Kongos

this monthly discipline is challenging me to reflect on choices i make on the daily.
you have been holding me accountable without knowledge. thank you!

southern gent and i love to listen to music. i read somewhere that if you listen to fun music before a night on the town, you will leave the house feeling and looking more alive. i truly believe it! i am almost always listening to upbeat music. when i prepare a meal or lightly clean the house, i listen and sing along to my energized iTunes playlist.

though the concept is great, it's not realistic to always be upbeat. some moments call for a tranquil vibe. there is a local radio station that plays 'beatles brunch' on the weekends. i like that theme. i am starting to wonder if constant high energy tunes may be creating overwhelm or even low levels of anxiety. high strung melodies could be generating a sensation of being rushed or feeling behind.

so i have started doing it a little differently. there is a definite psychology to the atmosphere we create around us.

i located a few mellow stations on Spotify and have added them to my repertoire. i think i was the last person to find the fabulous world of Spotify. better late than never.
creating balance and appreciating different types of music is a goal. yesterday while eating breakfast, i listened to reggae. this morning while tidying up the house, i tuned to classical. all sorts of harmonies will be streaming from our home speakers and setting a tone of balance.

my hope is that this discipline will evoke a heightened sense of calm and self reflection. this is the same logic around why i don't wake up to an alarm clock. the jarring feeling of being shaken awake by an 'alarming' sound is such an unpleasant way to awaken to the day.

the way we feel is a direct reflection of every choice we make throughout our day.
what are you listening to?

Monday, January 12, 2015

baptism anniversary

in 2011 when our godson Duncan was baptized, we made a commitment to always celebrate the anniversary of that event. and we sure have. every january he has a special day. duncan picks where we eat. the golden arches have dominated the celebrations. later in his life he may want to branch out, but we let him lead the way. it's quite remarkable to see how he is growing and growing. he always chooses milk as his drink. smart kiddo!



we followed up lunch with a trip to Launching Pad, a trampoline park
it was an incredible time. leaps and bounds of silliness and fun. unadulterated joy. 

in line with being godparents, we gave Duncan a daily devotional for kids. 

we accepted the honor of being godparents to heart and always want Duncan to know he has a special set of adults who love him and want to help guide him toward living the best life he knows how. 

here was my post from last year

*The only thing worth doing in the world is to make it a kinder place. -Karen Armstrong

Thursday, January 8, 2015

january discipline

as i have eluded to before, i am always up for a challenge. last year, one of my favorite bloggers created disciplines for herself. each month she chose a different hurdle to leap. i loved following along. we can do anything for a month, right? any behavior needs at least 21 days of repetition to become a healthy habit. i am ready to implement this into my year.
January is about doing things differently. here we go!

at the beginning of every year southern gent has a few days away from the office. we have always chosen to travel somewhere tropical. we naturally assume palm trees and beaches. we retreat to warm weather. this month, we are doing it differently. we booked 4 nights in the cultured mountain town of Asheville. the best part...we are bringing the dogs!

our agenda:
*spa appointments
*big breakfasts every morning
*brewery tours
*room service
*cool coffee shops
*celebrity chef restaurants

sounds like paradise to me! 

the other thing i have done in the first week of january?

selfies are so awkward, nobody else was around at the time.
i'm daring greatly! taking risks. doing things differently. 
i was tired of my blonde. it was fried out. it was brassy. now i'm auburn.
it's shocking, i'm embracing.

i will keep you posted on my month of doing things differently. stay tuned for next months challenge.

live fearlessly my friends! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 in review

Hello Friends! Hello 2015!
i love the energy a new year brings. it's like a reset button. a nice time to set goals and forecast the near future. it's about challenging ourselves. as a therapist, i find it invigorating. i am always setting new goals, almost incessantly trying to improve. i love that kind of thing.

let's look into the rear view mirror. here are 14 of my very favorite moments from 2014.

14. said goodbye to Facebook and joined instagram
since this change, my conversations are more authentic and meaningful. when i see friends, i truly catch up with them vs. prior knowledge of exactly what they have been doing. instagram has inspired me. i mostly follow people i don't know. i love expression through photography.

13. new years eve in savannah
i must say, i have a cool mom. i got lucky. we travel well together and bring out the silly in one another. i'm glad she's mine! 

12. beach trip with my neighbor girls
as i have shared before, i have the best neighborhood! these girls know how to have a good time. 
colorful sunglasses are always a good idea!

11. skating w keegan
i was once a figure skater and also played girls ice hockey. i can skate a little. so joining my nephew on the ice was a delight. i call him my little "skater bug." we did lots of swizzles.

10. to the mountains x 2
southern gent's parents moved to the mountains in 2014. we love visiting them and his extended family. very relaxing. lots of wine. lots of dogs. it brings out the colorado in me! 



9. chicago trip
i traveled to my hometown city, staying with a different friend each of the three nights. it was nostalgic and emotional. my age always strikes me when i am with my high school friends who have children in elementary school. i am proud of them for so naturally evolving into parenthood. their kids are awesome little people! i returned to my life with equal parts gratitude and grief. 

8. emily did karaoke
on this night, my brilliant and beautiful niece channeled her courage. she expressed great nervousness about performing a song. we talked..i pep talked..she dug deep and ultimately found the bravery she needed to step on stage. to watch a young woman fight a fear was incredible and inspiring! and she rocked it! fearless = freedom

7. NC dad's 60th bday weekend
family and friends came into town for a two-day celebration, complete with a cycling theme. the first night was the trolley pub downtown and the second night was a party. each food item was from a state he has lived. we customized every detail to fit his 60 year story!

6. Ohio dad visit
my dad visited us for a long weekend. it was wonderful to have him in our neck of the woods. we gave him a tour of our offices as well as our charming city! my dad is always up for anything and so pleasant to have around!  

5. new orleans
four couples had a wild time in Nola, mid-September. 
below is the before and after images. three big nights in a row!



4. key west x 2
virginia and her family of three moved back to key west in 2014. we couldn't stand being away from them, so showed up on their doorstep twice. 



3. katy perry concert
a big night out with my very favorite girls! 

2. won best therapist in triangle
this happened. a little self promotion never hurts. 

1. pacific coast highway
the best trip of my life also happened. southern gent & i traveled from napa to san diego in ten days. we experienced every city, beach and mountain town along highway 1. 
there are so many highlights, but the one that stands out most was in Big Sur. 
at 1am on a tuesday we were in hot springs overlooking the ocean on a starry night. unforgettable. 

well, that is my recap. below are reviews from past years. one thing i know for sure? i definitely seize the day. i hope you do too. it's the only way to live. fill your weeks with fun and great connections. i almost feel an unease about the number of things i want to do in my life. there is so much to learn and experience in such a short time. 2015 is looking just as amazing. it's a choice. our perspective and outlook have everything to do with how we perceive the world around us. choose the lighter side.

what stamp will you leave on this world? i hope mine is colorful.

2013 recap

2012 recap

2011 recap

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Card 2014

and just like that, it's behind me. my holiday card is complete and sent. each year it gets better, a little more complex. dreaming up an idea to fruition, what fun. we were pleased with our card this year. it started with a vision and developed from there. the idea did not originate with me. i had some inspiration. some very specific inspiration. isn't that what we all do? we see something we love and spin around to replicate it. style is the same way--we see an outfit or a color combination and re-create it in our own form. imitation is the best form of flattery.

my very first step is scouring the internet for images that catch my eye. the images below were front runners. who knows...i may use one next year. i love the natural setting of each and appreciate the relaxed poses. i am not a fan of formal photos. we prefer a casual, candid style image.






since i grew up in the midwest and lived in Colorado all of my 20's, snowfall holds a special place in my heart. it doesn't snow often in raleigh. when it does, most of the city is in fear. i, however, am delighted. i want to drive in it. i want to run through it. i want to stare out the window at it. i want to make a snow angel with it. for all these reasons, #4 was our final choice and became a muse to mimic.

i tracked down the photographer who shot the scene and asked several questions about the image. she was flattered that we wanted to re-create the shot she photographed several years ago.
the priceless secret she shared was about the 'snow.' it wasn't really snow. it was actually potato flakes. yes, you heard that correctly. Hungry-Jack-potato-flakes. after hearing that, i did my research and found that many movie sets use good ol' potato flakes to imitate snow. in person they are a buttery yellow. with the right lighting and a great camera, they reflect as snow.

i convinced southern gent this was a good idea. remember when i said he was a good sport? he truly is.
we gathered my parents and my favorite photographer friend, and all headed to a winter garden. it was important to have firs behind us. small details add up. i blogged some hints about the photo shoot here.

picture this: my mom on a ladder with a spaghetti colander and potato flakes. we were kissing and laughing as she shook the 'snow' in front of us. there was a tarp at our feet to catch the mashers. here are a few outtakes. it took some time to get the right consistency and perfect level of focus.

after much experimenting, we captured the shot! 

and, voila, a card was born!  

going to the mailbox is always the most fun in December. Happy Holidays Lovelies! 
enjoy each moment. imagine, discover, believe! 

previous cards:
here is our post from 2013
2012 christmas photo here
2011 christmas card post here
throw back christmas post here

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