Saturday, April 14, 2018


**Mushiness Warning**

The other day, when we were folding laundry or some other mundane task, Heather looks at me and said "Thanks for doing all the life stuff with me. Not just the fun, exciting stuff." And I totally melted. We have fun doing silly, stupid stuff, and it's really the simple moments that mean the most. One of the things I love most about Heather is how she makes "something out of nothing" (a Shovel and Rope lyric I quote a lot), like lighting candles and turning on the record player before I come home from work. (She knows how I feel about lighting... its important things like this that make a relationship, right?!) Making normal life moments something to remember.

While we did all the big life stuff pretty early, like getting Mozey and buying a house in 6 months 😁, we didn't rush the traditional commitment stuff. The last 2.5 years of being engaged and married have been hard. We lost Heather's dad, planned a wedding with no family in our city, and generally had a lot of ups and downs. I won't bullshit you and say we haven't fought and taken each other for granted. But in the end, I am always grateful to have a partner that I love and trust, and who I know loves and trusts me right back.

Last night Heather and I celebrated 5 years together! I cannot believe it has been FIVE YEARS! Half a decade! Five spins around the sun! In five years, we've bought one house, one camper, adopted Mozey, seen the birth of our two nieces, adopted a 2nd dog (Gertie post coming soon), had countless Florida and PA trips and left the country together once (finally!). I don't know if most married people celebrate their dating anniversary, but 4.13.13 was an important day in my life and one I'll never forget, so I intend on celebrating it forever! Last year, I was deep in wedding planning hell (have I mentioned that I hate planning?!) and missed writing an update. But, if you are so intrigued, check out my posts from two years and three years!

We didn't have any set plans last night, which meant we went where the wind took us, and it was lovely! We started out at a new West Asheville beer spot called The Whale and each had a tasty, obscure IPA. It was a gorgeous day and we both wanted to spend some time in the sun with the pups. Also, adorable pups means people come say hey and you get to make them take your photo. Win win!

We tried walking to the nearby Oyster House for a snack and another drink, but it was totally crowded and we got really overwhelmed by the barking dogs. Our two dogs and Heather's crutches became too much, so we took the pups home and decided to take advantage of her Handicapped Parking pass and brave downtown on a Friday night. Most locals avoid downtown Asheville (almost always, but ESPECIALLY on a weekend) but we were feeling brave! 

We ended up at Hemingway's, the new rooftop bar at the Cambria hotel and it was lovely. Waiting 30 minutes for a drink was not, but the view made up for it! We had ceviche and plantain tostadas and they were both delish! 

The Cambria is right by the Grove Arcade and as we were leaving Heather suggested we stop by the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, where we got engaged! It is one of the coolest bars anyway, with the winding passageways and stacks of books, but it clearly has special meaning to us. 

It was a beautiful night and our no-plan plan just rolled smoothly - I love when that happens! Here's to many more years with my favorite human!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Easter Weekend 2018

This long Easter weekend was simple and beautiful!

We kicked things off camping in Brevard at the Davidson River Campground. Brevard is a totally gorgeous little town with a cool connection to music and right in Pisgah National Forest. It's where we got married and this particular campground was Heather's late father's favorite spot. So, needless to say, it was a no-brainer for our first camping trip of the year!

Anyway, it was a beautiful weekend, if not a bit chilly! Our friends Aubrey, Eric, Allie and DJ joined us and we feasted, laughed and frolicked around the campground. As you do. Oh, and took a million photos of our dogs next to/near/around the camper. I mean...

Back at home Sunday morning, Heather and I walked to a church that meets near our house and really enjoyed it. It was a tiny group of people, sort of conversational and very welcoming. Felt right for Easter! We also camp home to a package from my parents. Every year they send us the same chocolate easter eggs with our names on them that my sister and I got as kids. A sweet little local chocolate shop makes them and it's still exciting as an adult! The rest of the day, we mowed the lawn, hung up hammocks in the back yard and drank some beers with our friends. Twas lovely all around!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Unique Heart Day with Cottage Cooking

This year for Valentine's Day Heather and I did something a little different. Usually, we are boring and cook a nicer-than-normal-meal or go out to eat. But one of my dear friends (Thanks, Caro + Alex) gave us a cooking class as a wedding present, and we decided to redeem it on Valentine's Day.

Liisa and John at Cottage Cooking could not have been kinder hosts. Our certificate actually expired at the end of last year, but they let me use it in February, AND I emailed them about Heather being on crutches and they were quick to assure me they could accommodate her.

We arrived, BYOB vino in hand, around 6 and got right to it! We started out slicing the main ingredient to make Hasselback potatoes, something I've seen and never made. Next up, was brie and raspberry jam in puff pastry and the main course: Salmon en Papillote. En Papillote means "in paper" and this is such a genius and cool way to cook it. We wrapped green onion, lemon, asparagus, garlic, compounded butter and white wine in the parchment paper with the fresh salmon and it turned out moist and delish!

When everything was ready, we all sat down to eat together! Our hosts and the other couple had all traveled extensively and Heather and I had just returned from France. Travel and bucket list dreaming is always an easy topic of conversation and it was cool to learn about everyone's favorite destinations.

After dinner, we made creme brulee! I have to say, I really want a blow torch now, it was so satisfying!

It was cool to make dishes I would regularly deem too fancy, and realize how simple they were! I never go for presentation, always flavor. Now I am inspired! We are planning to cook this menu for my mom while she is in town and hopefully she'll be reallll impressed. Although she does live with an amazing cook, so I'll have to bring it.

After leaving, Heather and I agreed it would be a super cool activity to do with friends or another couple. It would also be a cool way to meet new people if you are new to town. I highly recommend Cottage Cooking for a cool date night, girls night or as an individual! Huge thanks to our friends for a very cool and original gift!

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Elliotts Done Did France!

There is no way to truly describe what it's like to travel Europe with 8 humans, 2 of which are under 3 feet tall. Amazing, stressful, loud and hilarious are a few words that come to mind. When I first started talking about this trip, most folks were blown away by the fact that my mom, dad, sister, BIL, nieces, wife and I were all going to France. Together. For a week.

The trip began as my dad's idea, and he threw down a ton a frequent flier miles (with contributions from my sis!) to get us all tickets. How amazing is that? He planned the whole damn thing and even sent us all guidebooks to read and pick a few sights. What came of it was NOT the trip two adults would take, but a unique cultural moment as experienced by a herd of slow-moving non-French-speaking people that love each other a lot. There were lots of snack breaks, compromises, and early bird specials.

It was pretty damn cool.

The way the trip began after our overnight flight, with all of us piled into two double beds attempting to nap, was pretty hilarious and indicative of the ridiculous things you do to make a group of people acceptably happy.

I came away from this trip extremely appreciative of the generosity of my family, feeling lucky that I actually like them well enough to want to endeavor such a ridiculous trip, and most importantly, how to use a train bathroom with a 3.5-year-old. Spoiler: With the door open, tearing streaming down a face or two and with a dismount via force.

I don't think anyone, not even me, wants a day-by-day play-by-play, so here is the highlights of 4ish days in Paris and 3ish in Sarlat-la-Caneda:

  • Somehow looking forward to a long-ass plane ride with my people 

    • Lighting candles in Notre Dame for Heather's dad

    • Thundershirting Louisa into a nap during our first dinner (No sleep = losing it, and she can't have wine so...)

    • Aubergine + pesto + goat cheese
    • 24 Stomach flu (Mom)

    • One cane and lots of knee pain (Heather)

    • The comfort of a seated Museo d'Orsay tour (Heather + Lousia)

    • Watching Louisa add stars to her drawing while studying Starry Night

    • NOT making it inside the Louvre

  • Walking along the Seine, at night in the rain, with everything all glowy and magical

      • Wandering Pont Neuf with my sister (There's a shit load of locks, y'all)

      • Watching the 5-minute sparkling Eiffel Tower light show, a glorious accident! 

      • Realizing Van Gogh's self-portrait is really only two colors: Maize and sky blue

      • Drinking wine and melted Camembert with my wife, in the rain

    • Giving Louisa a pink, rose-flavored meringue that made her go nuts and sing/yell MERRRRENGGEE with Heather overandoverandover

      • Carrying more bags at once than I ever thought possible while constantly bragging that Heather and I packed HANDS FREE
        • Taking the longest, muddiest route around the UNESCO border at the Eiffel Tower, in the pouring rain

        • The most amazing Indian meal of my life, complete with free carrot dessert
        • Stressing out about train switches with Heather's hurt knee (we made it)
        • Evaline sleeping on my lap while riding the slow train through Bordeaux

        • Louisa sleeping on my lap on the way back to Paris from Bordeaux
        • Recalling Waking Ned Devine as we trucked all our luggage from the rural train station to the closest restaurant we could find
        • Hilarious and crazy hotel rooms (lofts, outdoor staircases, staircases) in Sarlat

        • Cheap grocery-store wine in hotel rooms while babies slept
        • Being surprised that an all-carb croissant breakfast could hold me over til lunch
        • Seeing Lascaux (and a dog with the same name) and wishing I was the 1940's teenager who discovered it
        • Almost getting locked inside a medieval castle with a million tiny stairs and Louisa

        • Running through a field to catch a photo of Beynac-et-Cazenac before sunset

        • Wandering through medieval city planning at night
        • Dance parties with tiny people who pee on the floor
        • Finally leaving the country with Heather!

        • Running straigh into a plate glass window while trying to snap a pic (This still makes me laugh so HMU if you want the story.)
        • Late-night crepes

        • Trying to fathom all the lives of those who are interned in the Catacombs

        • Touring Montmartre with my cousins

      • Ringing the bell at Van Gogh's house, to no avail

        •  Having every meal with my favorite people, with our favorite food 

        Just look at these nuggets that made it all happen! They are the cutest and I will remember this trip forever!!