Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hope, Patience, and Prayer

Be joyful in HOPE, be PATIENT in affliction, and faithful in PRAYER.
-Romans 12:12

This verse has been on my heart in a big way the past few weeks. We're going through parts of Romans right now at Hope with a series titled, "All In". Our pastor is challenging us to be "all in" for Jesus and not dancing on the sidelines. It's a powerful series that is hitting home for a lot of us, but this verse has resonated with me the most.

Over the course of 2013 I've felt some hope, but more suffering. There have been moments where I think, "I've got this. I'm going to be okay." And moments of, "Please, God, take away this pain" and "When will the ache stop?". This verse was the perfect reminder of God's will for me to. . .

be joyful in HOPE
I must remember to find the joy in the HOPE He promises His followers.
be PATIENT in affliction
 He promises me that pain is only temporary and He will restore me if only I am PATIENT.

and faithful in PRAYER
Constantly PRAYER restores and rejuvenates in miraculous ways.

Romans 12:12

Monday, November 25, 2013

Another Busy Weekend

Last week was one of the craziest of the school year-conference week. Our plannings and after school hours are packed with back-to-back parent conferences and we have a late night at school to help accommodate working parents. I love the purpose behind it and the opportunity to connect with parents, but man, am I tired by the end of the week! Come Friday I was ready to leave school behind and enjoy some time with David.

Our weekend kicked off with a wonderful supper with some even more wonderful people, Brian and Noelle. We've known Brian for a while now but this supper was our first chance to meet his girlfriend, Noelle. We met Brian through our church and in the time we've known him he has become one of David's best friends. Sadly, he is leaving us to head back to New York to be closer to Noelle. I can't really blame him since she's such a fun girl:-)

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early for a hair appointment. If you've seen me recently you know this was wayyyyyy overdue. My girl, Karen, worked her magic and gave me an updated look very different from what I walked in with. It will certainly take some getting used to, but I love it!
Yes, I am wearing a scarf in the house. Yes, it is that cold.

That afternoon our friend Ed joined us. He didn't come up from Charlotte, or even drive down from Raleigh-Ed rode his bike from Winston-Salem to hang out. Crazy, right?!? He has a goal to ride his bike to a different North Carolina city each weekend in November. His trip to us wasn't even his longest at 70 miles. To get to Raleigh is over a hundred!

This is a video he made about his journey from NC to CA!

Once he showered and rested we headed down to NoDa, our go-to place for out of town guests. We chowed down on some Cabo Fish Taco before we headed back to the house. Before we headed home, though, I got to try Tier 3's Pumking beer. A bit heavier than any other pumpkin beer, but definitely worth the try.

Good thing this is a short week because I'm already counting down to this weekend!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Brown Sugar Chicken

We love us some chicken in our house and I'm always on the hunt for new ways to fix it. Here is one that will definitely be repeated again and again!

2 1/2 Tbl. brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
5-6 chicken breasts

  Preheat oven to 425.
Combine sugar, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder.
 Coat each chicken breast thoroughly with this mixture and place on baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This past Sunday our wonderful pastor spoke to us from Romans 12:1-2. 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

His sermon focused on God us giving up on the things of this world and to trust God through every moment of our lives, not just the good ones. He urged us to hand everything over to God and trust His plan for us. This spoke deeply into our hearts as we go through some things (more on that another day). As he closed the sermon he challenged us to ponder five things we are thankful for in our lives. This is something I used to do every Thursday when I first started blogging. I'm not ready to take up that public torch again, but I do want to share the five things that immediately came to my mind on Sunday:

1. David and our marriage
Man, oh, man do I love that boy. I would be absolutely lost without his love, his challenges, his humor. . . well, pretty much everything about him. He makes me a better me.

2. Our family and friends
If it were not for these Godly people and their love and support who knows where we'd be today.

3. Our health
I think it's very easy to take health for granted, but I refuse to do that. I am so thankful that we are healthy and we can continue to keep ourselves that way. I am also very thankful for the doctors and nurses who make that possible.

4. Freedom
This is such a broad topic but I am so thankful for the freedom to worship our wonderful God, the freedom to go to work, the freedom to wear what I want, the freedom to come and go as I please, the freedom to speak up when I want, and so on. It's easy to forget what a luxury this is if it's all we've ever known.

5. Daisy
It may sound ridiculous, but I am thankful for that spoiled little pup. She has a sixth sense about when I need a snuggle and when I need company. Shet is such a comfort to me when I'm down.

What are you thankful for??

Monday, November 18, 2013

Goodbye Rattletrap Car, Hello Gorgeous!

I have posted quite a few times on the rattletrap car, aka Suzy Subaru, aka the clunkiest car that just wouldn't die. I saved and saved and saved in order to finally have a car of mine and I was so proud the day I was able to walk into the car dealership and buy her outright all those years ago, but that was all those years ago. 

I bought Suzy my freshman year of college so I had something to travel back and forth from home to State with. I adored her when I saw her on the lot and couldn't wait to call her mine. To be honest I would have adored anything after driving a 1987 Honda Accord (the car I drove in HS that my brother had kindly killed when I went to college). She was a great little car, but after years and years of driving she slowly started to fall down the hill and was soon referred to as the "rattletrap car" thanks to all the rattling she produced. 

Fast forward to this summer when I fell off the road trying to avoid being run over by an eighteen wheeler. This lead to tire issues and the discovery of more problems. After averaging a grand a year every year for the past three years, we began to consider a new car. It wasn't until David took her in for a routine oil change and they reported yet another new problem did the hunt officially begin.

Last Monday we visited the Hyundai dealership and we found the perfect fit for us. After some haggling on David's end we were able to get an incredible deal and on Friday this beaut joined the fam:

This is my brand-spankin'-new 2013 Hyundai Tucson! It's going to be hard to top a name like Suzy Subaru, but we're gonna try. Any suggestions??

Friday, November 15, 2013

Anniversary in Asheville (Part 3)

After our stellar experience at Early Girl Eatery the day before we decided to hit up Tupelo Honey Cafe before we hit the road and headed for home. We decided to get there early and arrived at 8:30am for their 9am opening. Needless to say we were the first ones in line:-)

We dined on a delectable breakfast of an omelet stuffed with goat cheese, asparagus, and spinach as well as goat cheese grits (for me) and a crab scramble with asparagus, bacon, and toast (for David). And all that was after the most incredible biscuit I've ever had with blueberry preserves. We were stuffed! 

After that we hit the road for Skytop Orchard for some apple picking. It was a short drive and pretty much on our way home so we couldn't say no. 

I may or may not have gotten a smidge carried away with the picking. . . we ended up with $31 in apples for two people. Who wants some pie??

We then said goodbye to the mountains and hurried home to pick up our sweet girl. 

It was an amazing trip and I left rested and relaxed with a very full heart. Can't wait for our next visit!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Anniversary in Asheville (Part 2)

Saturday morning gave us a rare treat in our house-sleeping in until 8:15am! We're both such early risers during the week that the weekend usually follows the same pattern. We tossed and turned for a bit before rolling out of bed and heading back downtown for breakfast.

We got a few suggestions on this as well, but settled on Early Girl Eatery-we were not disappointed! We got there about 8:50am since we they opened at 9am. There was already a line when we arrived, but we made it just in time because after they seated us the wait jumped to 45 minutes! 

After a scrumptious breakfast we headed down the road to do some hiking. Neither of us brought gear for an intense workout, but we knew we wanted to take in some of the beauty that surrounded us. What made it even better was the park we ended up at had an exhibit by a famous Lego builder with Legos! How nifty!

We wandered/hiked for about an hour and a half before heading back to the hotel to freshen up to head back downtown. We were still stuffed from lunch so we hit up Hannah Flannigan's for beer and nachos. We highly suggest their Irish Nachos!

Then we were off to shop and see Asheville. I love this eclectic city and all the neat things it has to offer. Poor David was a trooper despite not loving all the shops. Maybe it was the sweet potato chips we picked up from the Gourmet Chip Company that made it bearable;-) 

After a few hours of that we attempted to go to 12 Bones to take part in the awesome BBQ everyone reccomended. Too bad they were only open for lunch. We ended up at Asheville Brewing Company for pizza and beer. No complaints from us!

Whether it's because we were exhausted or old we headed back to the hotel soon thereafter to watch football and hang out.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Anniversary in Asheville

Yes, our anniversary is in June. 
No, we didn't really do anything special for it. 
Yes, I just wanted an excuse to head to the mountains:-)

I wasn't home from Seattle for more than 48 hours and we were off again! This time was a bit more local-the beautiful Asheville, NC. 

For whatever reason I've been wanting to come back since we celebrated our first anniversary here in June 2011. It was such a wonderful, heart fulfilling trip I just knew we needed to come back. What better weekend than one that had a Holiday tacked onto it?!

We hit the road Friday afternoon and arrived a little over 2 hours later in search of food. Thanks to all the stellar people who responded to my facebook and blog post about visiting we knew of a few places we wanted to try. We found parking and headed to Lexington Avenue Brewery for a few beers and a stellar supper. 

Afterwards we wandered around a bit and ended up at the Bier Garden where David had one of his favorites on draft! I also got to have a Pumpkin Cider. Trust me, it was as good as it sounds. 

We were tired from the long work day and drive so we headed to our hotel to turn in for an early night. 

Come back tomorrow for the next installment!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Seattle Day 2

Miss the first installment? Start here!

Due to the three hour time difference I was up at 4am local time. That would be sleeping in if I were at home! I caught up on some school work (a teacher's work is never done!) and took full advantage of the cable TV before wandering across the street for some more magic in a red cup. By that point it was time to meet back at the hotel for the buses to take us back to the Foundation for our big day!

Panoramic view of part of the Foundation. It was huge!

We arrived and were greeted by the incredibly friendly staff and a wonderful breakfast. Spinach and egg wraps with avocado, fresh fruit, and various pastries. And of course, coffee. I really got used to the readily available coffee at every turn! They gave us another hour to eat and visit. To teachers with a lunch of 20 minutes (this also includes a bathroom break and warming your food!) this was a huge luxury. In fact, we didn't know what to do with ourselves.

After that they herded us into the Atrium for the fireside chat with Melinda Gates. We quickly went in and grabbed front row seats on the couches. I mean, how often do you have this ind of opportunity?? Melinda and three teachers of the year (from Vermont, Wisconsin, and California) discussed collaboration, creativity, lack of time, and the negative impact of over-testing kids for about an hour. It was comforting to hear that teachers from every where face the same woes as those of us in North Carolina. Now, what to do about it?? The Gates Foundation had some thoughts!

April, Levi, me, and Sue

Heyyyyy, Melina Gates

We were then grouped and put into different rooms to give feedback on some projects they have been working on. To all my teacher friends, you know those gazillion different websites and tools we are constantly filtering through in an attempt to help our kids/make our lives easier? Well, the Gates Foundation is streamlining them all into one place! Some of the things they proposed were unnecessary while others were cutting edge. We spent hours (with an awesome lunch in between) in small focus groups offering feedback and just about every teacher in the room offered to continue to help with no further incentive. That's how exciting these news programs are!

Everything they feed us was super yummy, super healthy, and local!

That afternoon we gave input on using Social Media and who we turn to the most before we headed back to the hotel. April and I said goodbye to our new biffles and headed out to one of the top seafood restaurants in Seattle-Blueacre Seafood. It did not disappoint! I've not always been a huge fan of fish, but my sweet husband has encouraged me to try more and more and I am thankful he has because I now actually like it! We dined on a delicious three-course meal before embarking on an adventure to the original Starbucks. There was no way we were going to Seattle and not going to see it! Just like any city at night, Seattle was a bit scary. So after we got our pictures, souvenirs, and coffee we hurriedly headed back to the hotel to turn in.

Yummy grilled black cod

Visiting the Motherland!

Didn't get to see the market in action, but we got to wander past

I cannot think of enough adjectives to describe how wonderful this trip/opportunity it was. I am so thankful for this incredible experience!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Seattle Day 1

Sorry about the delayed posting of my fabulous Seattle trip, but just as soon as I got back, I was off again. More on that later. . .

I was fortunate enough to visit Seattle with the incredible opportunity of attending the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Connecting Teachers to Teachers conference. Roughly 200 teachers from all across the United States came together to discuss what teachers need in order to help further their students. It is not very often that we're asked how we can be helped and we did not waste the chance to speak up! What made it all even better was having a fellow Mooresville teacher, the inspiring April, along on this adventure with me:-)

A quick background on this trip. . . we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. In fact, when our principals (April teaches at the high school) asked us if we'd be interested in going they only asked if we wanted to go to Washington. None of us knew that it was in Seattle until we were sent information on our hotel! Not that we were complaining. I mean how often do you get to fly across the country to Seattle on someone else's tab?? We also had no earthly idea what this trip would entail. All we knew was our flight and hotel information. Can you imagine the anxiety this prompted in two Type-A teachers?!?

Our flight was scheduled for late Monday morning, which meant a nice little sleep-in for someone used to a 4:15am alarm. I puttered around the house for a bit before heading toward the airport. I was about halfway there when I realized I had forgotten my jacket. Did you catch the part about going to Seattle?? Other than that the pre-flight was pretty painless. The flight itself was a six hour direct flight, oof. Thank heavens I took David's advice and requested an aisle seat! 

When we landed we hurried to get our baggage and meet our driver (yes, our driver!). While we were there we met another teacher, Levi, who had brought along his wife for the trip. We grabbed our luggage and headed toward downtown and our awesome hotel. 

Once we arrived we had about an hour and a half before we had to be downstairs to catch the bus to go to the Foundation for supper and hopefully more details. I knew I couldn't waste the opportunity to explore so I was off! This East Coast girl quickly grabbed Starbucks we were in the Motherland after all!) and hit up a few stores in search of a jacket. H&M came to the rescue and I got an adorable gray peacoat on sale! 

And it was in a red cup to boot!

I quickly hurried back to the hotel and we all headed to the Foundation for cocktail hour. That's right, folks, cocktail hour. As a teacher I never thought I'd be able to say I was on a "business trip", but cocktail hour with local brews too?? I was in hog heaven! We visited and made quick connections with a few other Southern birds. They finally gave us an itinerary which settled our anxious minds. They also gifted us with business cards. Yep, business cards. The goal was to have us make connections with fellow teachers and build a new community. 

Did I mention how thankful I am for this incredible opportunity??

Around this time that East Coast time started to hit us hard and caught the first bus back to the hotel. We needed a good night's sleep if we were going to be on our A-game for the next day!

Goodnight, Seattle.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday's Letters [11.08]

Happy Friday, folks!


Dear Seattle, Can I please come back?? 36 hours just isn't long enough!

Dear Gates Foundation, I cannot thank you enough for the incredible experience. I would also like to take a moment to speak for all the teachers there when I say thank you for treating us like professionals. Thank you for advocating for us!

Dear readers, We're heading to Asheville for the weekend and are looking for suggestions for things to do, places to see, and food to eat! Whatcha got for us??

Dear all the things I have to do, Go away. Just shoo. Shoo!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Tough Guy

This past weekend David proved his manhood and completed a Tough Mudder! 

A few months ago his good friend, Steve, asked him if he would be interested in doing it with him. David loves these kind of challenges and quickly signed up for the 12-mile run sprinkled with various obstacles. They both figured they would have plenty of time to train and didn't really worry much about it. Fast forward those few months of little training and the day was here.

If they were scared they didn't really let on. They admitted they were a little nervous but seemed fine otherwise. Caroline (Steve's fiancee and my former roommate!) and I wished them adieu and they were off. We stayed back in the comfort of our cozy clothes and the couches and chatted while they put their bodies through the ultimate tortures. Every so often we'd look at the clock and get anxious for them, but we knew we'd get a call from the hospital if something terrible happened. 

We finally received a call that they had finished in 3 hours and 20 minutes with no major injuries-WAHOO! We were so proud of them and hurried to prepare the house for their return. We got the towels ready, pulled out the sofa bed, ordered the pizza, and poured the beer. After showering, chowing down, and drinking up they shared stories from the big day. Both boys said they would definitely do it again. Caroline and I said we would definitely wait from home again;-)

Before and After

Monday, November 4, 2013

Seattle Session

Howdy, folks! While you are reading this post it is likely that I am flying across the country on my way to Seattle, Washington for an incredible opportunity through work! I don't have many details yet, but please send happy thoughts for me and a friend/fellow teacher as we embark on this new adventure!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday's Letters [11.01]

Happy Friday, folks!


Dear Daisy, I don't know what to do with you and all your personality.

This was taken when we were ignoring her and trying to eat supper. Clearly she did not agree with our choice.

Dear Davido, You rocked the Batman pajamas last night even if they were a smidge snug. Next year we'll spring for the real thing!

Dear Central Office, I can't thank you enough for blessing us with teacher workdays on Halloween AND the day after. The teachers of Mooresville are indebted to you.

Dear God, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take in this beautiful view.

Dear Seattle, I'm coming for ya in a few days! Get excited!

Dear 2013, Where did you go???