Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays!

 In honor of this special, engaged holiday season, I wanted to count a few things I am excited about and thankful for. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year have felt extra special, and per usual, I feel the need to get extra gushy and tell you all about.

1. Being welcomed into Heather's family. I've got a stocking, y'all, it's official!

2. Watching Heather with her family, they know her better than anyone. I haven't heard her laugh that hard in a long time.

3. Making new traditions. Double decker pizza + homemade key lime pie on Christmas eve eve.
Eating at Reba and Poncho's in PA with my family every Thanksgiving. Why does repetition make us feel so at home?

4. Florida fruit! Avocados, lemons and limes galore! And I picked my first grapefruit.

5. Watching Louisa open presents for the first time (in PA). This one can only get better with time.

6. Reading and drinking coffee while listening to the water. I wish I could do that every morning!

7. For the past few holidays, Mozey was either with friends or with me in Tennessee while Heather was in Florida. The gang is all here in 2015.

8. Getting to celebrate both holidays together this year!

9. Heather's mom decorates her home to the GILLS. I have never seen such a thing, and I love it.

(Heather's nephew made these!!)

10. Exploring new places together, including St. Pete, St. Augustine and Savannah.

11. The endless entertainment I get from retirement communities - these are my people!

12. Water! Never have I celebrated Christmas by the beach, let alone with a tan.

13. My family. I talked to my mom on the phone before they boarded their flight to Paris and my mom got a little teary. When I hung up, Heather said, "That's a good mom."

I hope you ALL have a beautiful holiday, no matter what you celebrate.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Top 5 Thanksgiving Moments

Since it's almost Christmas, it felt timely to look back on Thanksgiving. This year we got to celebrate Thanksgiving with both of our families, which makes it one of my favorite Thanksgivings yet. To celebrate, I am counting my top 5 moments from this year's celebration.

1. Old family photos.

Heather's sister and my soon-to-be sister-in-law (woop, woop!) came up from Florida the weekend before to celebrate with Heather and their dad. We all went out to eat together and Heidi brought along a box of old photos she had found. It was a total blast seeing both of them as little kiddos!

2. Sierra Nevada

While Heidi was here we checked out the Sierra Nevada Brewery for the first time. And, holy crap is it beautiful! We ate some reallllly decadent food (duck confit fries) inside and then moved outside by the fire for beers. It was super cozy, I highly recommend it!

3. Flying with Mozey.

The scene of us with our carry-on bags, dog carrier, two backpacks and leashed dog was a sight to behold. I was super nervous about going through security with her and about how she would do on the plane - but it went off without a hitch. Unexpectedly, it was also really fun to have her with us in the airport!

3.5 One of my best friends and I got to say a quick hello in the Charlotte airport!

Due to a never-ending group chat with my besties from college and to some serious stalking while Meredith was in the air, my friends and I discovered that we would overlap. We sleuthed out her arrival gate and I got to be there for a quick hug before boarding my flight to PA. It was total serendipity, and she and Heather got to meet for the first time too! This is the beauty of technology, I tell ya.

4. Louisa.

Always and forever, Louisa will be a top moment. Having a baby around just always makes the occasion sweeter. She is a total wild child, and I cannot wait to have real conversations together and give her life advice. Is that arrogant? But really, what are aunties for?

5. My hometown!

Growing up, I took for granted how beautiful my hometown is. Now that I am older, I notice so much that I never did before. I love walking downtown with Heather, showing her my old spots. And hanging at the quintessential townie bar, of course!

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Heather and I are officially engaged!

So people keep asking if we have a date for the wedding yet, and I am getting the feeling that we aren't a traditional couple. (Well, we already knew two girls wasn't traditional, but ya'll know what I mean right?) Ever since we met there was absolute confidence that this was it, so getting engaged wasn't a huge change in mindset for me and didn't rev me into super-fast planning mode.

Also, I was never the girl who dreamed of what her wedding would be like, I was just open to whatever came my way. But over time, I realized that I wanted to be a family with Heather and that, one day, I would want to have my best people around me to celebrate that. We have talked for a while about what we would do at our wedding.... songs, vows, location... the beginnings of wedding dreaming. This was all totally new to me, and a lot of the wedding stuff seemed crazy and some of it seemed awesome. Since this will be a mutual planning thing (two girls, remember?) and we want to be intentional with that cash money, this will take a bit. So, no, we do not have a date, but we are both enjoying being engaged and have been really grateful to feel like love from our friends, family and coworkers.

All of that said, can I get a Hell YEAH, F*&% YEAH, please?!

People have asked how it went down, so here it goes, in great detail. If the idea of reading this makes you cringe, please stop now!

The 15th was a Sunday and earlier that week Heather asked me if I wanted to go on a Sunday brunch date with her, to which I responded YES! The Saturday beforehand she went to have lunch with a friend and didn't return until late that night. That day I rearranged all of the furniture in the house, went on a run, walked the dog, made dinner and watched all the Netflix shows she hates (The League, anyone?), so I was in the zone and just figured she was being her usual sneaky, romantic self. I love to be surprised and my birthday is coming up, so I just let it be. Everyone needs their privacy, ya know? Turns out she was at our friend Meta's house making me a ring! Here's a photo Meta shared later:


Sunday morning, I wake up super early and pronounce that I want to go on a hike before brunch. Heather looks a bit panicked and said there were a few things she wants to finish before we eat, but that she can swing it. So we hustle out to our go-to hike spot in Montreat. While we're hanging at the top, she whips out this 2nd edition Rilke compilation and reads me some beautiful poems and says she bought the book for me. Little known fact, I love and read lots of poetry, so I was pumped. Again, I just thought she was being sweet!

After we head home, change clothes and drive downtown, I did get a little suspicious. Heather dressed up a bit more than normal and told me I should wear something nice too. Heather would literally never tell me what to wear, other than telling me I look beautiful in all things (including my favorite disgusting pj outfit of flannel pants + airbrush 80s sweatshirt). She's a gem. At Limones, we sat at the bar, ate the freshest, limey-est ceviche, sipped fancy cocktails and both had really stellar, fancy egg dishes with obscure ingredients that I could never recall for you now.

After we ate, Heather was nervously driving all over downtown, saying she had somewhere to take me. Once she parked she led me to the Battery Park Book Exchange, a really cool spot that's like a cross between a library + bar + secret garden. Basically, it's amazing, and dog-friendly! Heather dragged me all over the bar looking for the little private nook we once sat in and then spent 5 minutes trying to get me to call my dad (it was his birthday). Once she realized I wasn't playing along, she whips a painting out of her bag titled We Do by a local artist we both love. She had been trying to get me to look away so she could hide it in a bookshelf, but at this point I was aware of how nervous she was and just waiting to see what would happen. She gave me the painting, had me look at the title on the back and then she proposed and gave me the ring she made! And we cried and hugged a lot and cried some more.

I honestly have no idea what either of us said, it was like a blackout due to emotion instead of booze. Somehow we ended up downstairs where Heather's dad, step mom and our friends were waiting! Then I ugly-cried A LOT and hugged a lot of people and drank a lot of champagne. Later that night we ate a Buxton Hall Barbeque with some friends and ended up home chilling on the couch discussing the day. I don't have lots of details to give about the day after it all happened because it was such a blur. So here are photos from our friends.

Thanks for all of the love. Here's to the Belliotts, heh heh heh!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Parkway Lovin', Winter Style

The leaves are truly leaf-ing. See what I did there? I know I am so punny.
(Actually for real puns, refer here.)

My lady, my baby dog and I ventured out for CHILLY hike this Sunday and it's officially official, leaf season is over. 

Although we've got about six more weeks until the winter solstice, once the leaves are gone, the brain turns to Christmas and Netflix binges. This fall has been so rainy, I feel like we missed out on some enjoyment, which honestly sucks. Thankfully, we did get a camping trip in the weekend before Halloween when the leaves were at their prime.

This past weekend, though, winter was in the air and the leaves were all but gone. Once you get up on the Parkway, it's at least a few degrees cooler than it is in Asheville, and as you climb, the temperatures just keep dropping. Those naked trees really let the wind through, and it can get pretty eerie up there with all the crackling of branches. For a Sunday, I couldn't believe how desolate the trail was. In total, we saw four other people, not counting the requisite engagement shoot.

The best thing about hiking in the "winter" is that the air is so clear. This particular hike doesn't lend itself to long range photography, but winter hikes have a special feeling about them. The air is free of plant matter and pollen, allowing you to see much further than during the summer. The air just feels so refreshing, it's like jumping in a mountain spring.

The most epic part was this rock wall leading up to the trailhead that was essentially raining. We spent a good while just listening, trying to identify where the sound of each little drop originated, noticing the unique patterns as they joined together. We stuck our fingers in moss-filled knots in the huge forest full of rhododendrons. We studied the patterns the leafless branches make, like clouds in the sky, antelopes and rabbits, old men and coffee cups.

I believe most of us do our best reflection in Nature, and a quiet, wintery hike is especially perfect for such thoughts and dreams. All it takes is a little perspective of the vast world around us to bring our little moneky brains back to earth. The hard part is capturing that feeling and sustaining it once the real world becomes real again. Ya know? That's the work, as my old yoga teacher would say.

Nature truly served its purpose this weekend, and it felt damn good.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Internet Treats

Happy Almost Halloween!

Let's be real, Halloween is about indulgence. Indulging in candy, too many beers and way more glitter than any self-respecting adult should ever feel okay wearing in public. Costumes are an excuse to wear your leggings without pants, show off your impeccable knowledge of history/current events/pop culture or (the absolute worst kind of person), stay silent behind a mask all night logo. 

But, don't misunderstand me, I intend to indulge in all of these things, minus the I-May-Be-A-Murderer-You'll-Never-Know funny guy who silently stares are people from behind a mask, refusing to speak. Other than that, I am personally very excited to wear a muumuu and way too much makeup in public. If I could get away with that daily, I would. In honor of a holiday that is 100% about indulgence, let's indulge in some gratuitous humor at the expense of others.

This is seriously the best thing ever. I watched this at least ten times and laughed hysterically

This article. And not because of the One Direction references, I could care less about them. "Say that out loud to yourself. 'Besides Justin Timberlake, Joey Fatone is the most successful member of NSync"

If you haven't seen Whine About It, you're missing gems like this: "You want candy? Why don't you get a job and you go down to the CVS and look the cashier right in the face while you buy a whole bag of jumbo Kit Kats for yourself. That's how adults do candy." This and this are also highly entertaining.

This is actually not funny at all, it's the best internet news ever. MODG is back. She writes all the curse words on the internet so that I don't have to.

Hope you enjoy these treats, don't be a Halloween dummy - use that free Uber ride and wear leggings if you can. Best advice ever.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Old Lady Style

It's no secret that I love old people and that I kind of wish I was one. My closet is a menagerie of patterns, mumus and old lady loafers. Most of all, I love the audacity and gumption it takes to nail down a style the way these old ladies do. The word eccentric doesn't even begin to explain it.

I also have it bad for classic styles, oxfords, a button up and some tortoise shell glasses. Must be the Yankee in me, but I love a classy, put together lady. It's not my personal style but that doesn't stop me from loving it.

For example:

Bobbi Brown

So, as much as I love highly decorated, layered style, I love Bobbi's for the opposite reason. She knows what she likes and sticks with it. Black or white structured tops, jeans and flat sneakers. Hair parted in the middle, heavy black glasses and dangly earrings and necklaces. Simple, clean and reliable. How easy must it be to get dressed in the morning when you know exactly what looks great and you just go with it? I feel like I need to channel more of this in my life!

Joan Didion

First of all, she is an amazing author. She writes in such an honest way about tough subjects. I really appreciate how she lays it out there. Anyway, get a load of that big glasses + sweater action. Simple, classic and comfy. When you're getting up there (and also in your late 20s) comfort is key. Lookin' right and feelin' right!

Iris Apfel

Okay, you knew this one was coming. Last year I was thisclose to being her for Halloween. From my perspective, she is everything I love about aging. Have fun, put it all out there. Yes, you should wear every necklace you own at once. Yes, matching your shoes to your bracelet to your belt to your earrings is a fabulous idea.

She legitimizes all of my collector notions. She's a legit badass old lady. I mean, look at that blue eyeshadow and red lipstick. She's got a documentary on Netflix, a makeup collection with Mac, she is all over the place. If you haven't heard of her, check this out.

Anyway, just had to get that out. Stylist, I am not, but I'll accept the role of admirer!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Five on Friday, October 2nd

It's been a rainy week around here, with lots of lazy Netflix nights and I don't hate it. Although it is a bit sad to miss a whole week of the best weather that Western NC has to offer!

I like joining in the Five on Friday, it's nice to recap my top 5 favorite moments from the week. They say that listing what you're grateful for reduces stress and increases happiness. That's reason enough for me!

Coffee! I am a very clumsy person and broke our french press in an epic explosion of grounds a few weeks ago. I've been resisting purchasing a new one and finally broke down this week, using a Bad Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon, there any other way? Hooray for delicious coffee again! We got this one in the 12 cup size because we drink a lot of coffee in my house, and 8 cups just don't cut it.

Sylvan Esso played at Highland Brewing on Monday, and it was such a good show! We missed seeing them in Raleigh this summer and were able to snag tickets before the show sold out. They played the outdoor stage and the rain actually held off all night. If you haven't heard their songs Coffee or Play It Right...get on that.

In my old age (nearing 30, y'all, this is real) I am joining my sister and mother in the dizzy/vertigo world. As a kid, I always got car sick. Once, my super-styling grandmother, Nana, didn't believe me and I ended up decorating the inside of her car...with my puke. Those Tennessee mountain roads don't joke. Next time we head out on a road trip I am trying this sucker out. Thanks to Mari for sending me an acupressure bracelet to try out!

I had a nice little coffee + donut date with myself last weekend, and it was fun! It's funny what you notice when you're alone and not distracted. Solo time is super important to me. It can be hard to figure out if you live with your partner, but taking time alone, even just to read or take a bath is essential!

Had my own little throwback Thursday last night, god I forget how much I love 10 Things I Hate About You. Normally I am far too ADD to watch movies, but this one gets me every time.

Hell is just a sauna.

Happy weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Sunday Well Spent

When I woke up this past Sunday, the rain that had promised to let up had not. Heather and I had planned to go hiking but had lots to accomplish that day too. Luckily, Heather had the fabulous idea to head up to Hot Springs for a hike + a soak in one of their mineral hot tubs.  So at 11 AM we booked one of their hot tubs for 5:45 that night! The idea of a river-front hot tub, sans all the harsh chemicals, is my idea of bliss on a cool, rainy day. In the way that happy Sundays can be sometimes, we had the perfect balance of city wandering, nature and relaxation.

After running some errands and plodding around downtown Asheville, we made the 45-minute drive out to Hot Springs. Since it was raining we left things flexible, with the plan to grab a beer at one of the two bars in town if it was raining too hard or stop off in one of the other little towns along the way. The only way there is via a one-lane road, so we were forced to slow down and smell the horse manure roses.

Every time I make a drive like that it makes me think of home and I get all nostalgic. Nothing says Central PA like a 25 MPH speed limit and ramshackle old barns. Makes my heart swoon. And, it was the raining that perfect, misty rain that makes the roads glisten, and lightly enough to crack the windows and listen to the car tires crackle along the wet road.

Once we got there the rain stopped and we saw blue skies, so we preserved and went on our hike! We actually did a portion of this same hike a few years ago, but I was enough of a space cadet not to realize we were on the Appalachian Trail! I think it's so cool that the AT runs so close to Asheville, and Hot Springs is one of the places that it runs right through civilization. We timed the hike so that we'd return with enough time to head over to the Hot Springs Resort and Spa where they rent the tubs out by the hour.

The big draw in Hot Springs is just that...the natural hot springs that give the town its name. I learned that the city was founded around these springs and were used by the Cherokee Indians for their healing powers. There is now a "resort" and "spa" along the river which feeds the springs. I use these terms loosely as the amenities are, shall we say, rustic? I, for one, I totally appreciate the utilitarian-ness of these tubs (and the price) but I do worry that a honeymooning couple may one day mistake this spot for a swanky resort.

I've only been to the tubs one other time, in the dead of winter, and I was honestly a bit cold. Since the tubs are fed by the springs I assume the temperature fluctuates with the weather. But by 5:45 on Sunday, the rain had stopped and it was downright muggy outside. The deal with the tubs is that each one is totally private and you face the river, so you feel pretty solo out there! It was so incredibly relaxing to soak in a hot, bubbly tub outside listening to the river for an hour. The minerals are said to relieve stress + fatigue and increase oxygen + blood flow. I can't say whether these things really happened, but damn if it didn't feel fantastic.

I was so relaxed driving home that I honestly felt like I was in a dream. Have you ever left a yoga class, totally blissed out and felt like a you're on another planet? That's exactly how I felt, cruising the back roads back to Asheville.

It was the perfect way to start the new week, I wish I could do that every Sunday!