New Adventures

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post for about two and a half weeks. I’m still not sure what to say, so I’m just going to start typing.

Today is my first day at a new job, in a completely new-to-me field. This path is not something I ever would have pictured myself doing, but I like to think God had other plans. I look at the last post I wrote and this seems to fit that so well…

So I’m sure you’re asking, “Wait, new job? What?”

Yes. I quit my job about two weeks ago.   Yesterday was the last day sitting in my office, looking out the window at the steel yard and hearing the people I’ve come to know so well over the last 4+ years pass by. It was bittersweet. On one hand, I’m so excited for this new adventure and to try something completely different…but on the other hand, I’ll miss that place. It was comfortable and I loved my coworkers.

This wasn’t something I was planning. I wasn’t looking for a job…and about three weeks ago, I got a phone call. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I was told that they wanted me to work for them. It took me a few days of prayer, reading and torturing Farmer Ben and close friends with conversation about it before I decided to do it.

So what will I be doing?

My official title is Youth & Outreach Coordinator. So basically, I’ll be working with the teens at my church and overseeing community outreach/service project coordination. It’s going to be a huge challenge…but it is also a lot of things I really love to do.

The last year has been a whirlwind and I feel like Farmer Ben and I have had our world turned upside down, more than once! This is going to be another huge change, but God has a plan!

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Anyway, wish me luck!

Let’s catch up! What’s new?!


Frostbite 5k: Rouses Point, NY

I told you about the Run to Chocolate in Fairfax, VT…but you may have noticed that I said we did TWO races last weekend!

Frostbite 5k-Rouses Point, NY

After our trip across the lake, we were ready to take on a windy 5k on Sunday. We woke up bright and early last Sunday morning to attend prayer at our church and ate a delicious breakfast of roast beef hash and eggs (thank you, Farmer Ben!).

Then we relaxed for a few hours before heading north to Rouses Point, NY. Sunday was much colder than Saturday and it was WINDY, especially because this little town is right on the lake…and next to Canada.

We hooked up with our friend Preston and his two little ones for the race. Preston took his 1 year old in the stroller and his 8 year old ran the race—his first 5k!

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The boys

We got there to register about 40 minutes before start time and  I was lucky to be able to chat with my friend Gerry (who was a HUGE help at Strides for James last year). He even took some time and explained the course to me. We hung out inside the fire station and made small talk with other runners. I even got to chat with some reps from the Fleet Feet across the lake.

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Pre-race

Of course the women’s bathroom was non-functional, so the line for the men’s room was pretty long…and I had to pee 1234234534 times before the race started (does anyone else have that problem? I don’t know what it is but as soon as my body knows that I’m racing it starts to revolt!)

I was a little nervous because we were running around town so there were a lot of turns, luckily there were cones and volunteers at just about every turn,  so any confusion was almost non-existent. It was a little slippery, but it was nothing compared to the conditions we ran in the day before.

This was another low-key race, we lined up at the start and as we took off, I could hear people around me chatting and laughing—always a good sign! I wasn’t planning on going super-fast, as we had raced the day before, but I also wanted to keep a pretty consistent pace.

As I mentioned above, we  were running through the town, near the elementary school, a local company, and by the water tower. Luckily the sun was shining and I ended up peeling off my heavy sweatshirt and tying it around my waist about 1 mile in. It was pretty windy, but the sun kept it comfortable. Of course, I didn’t run with a watch, so I have no idea what my splits were, but I ended up finishing at 29:01, which, is just about the same pace as I had run the previous day.

I was super happy to see Ben waiting for me at the finish line (probably my favorite part of the race). He finished in 27:04…speedy! After I crossed the finish line, we jogged back to look for Preston and Jared (his 8-year-old). We saw Preston first, rounding the last corner but I decided to keep going to look for Jared…Farmer Ben walked behind me.

After jogging back through the course, I finally found him, looking pretty tired and walking along with two women. He saw me and brightened up a little bit, showed me that he had scraped his hand after taking a spill and then started to slowly jog again.

 I told him we were almost finished and that seemed to brighten his spirits, his face lit up as he saw his dad and Ben coming with the stroller and he sprinted to them…forgetting he still had a little ways to go.

 We cheered Jared on as he got closer to the finish and reminded him to run as fast as he could through the finish line!

 He was super happy to be finished and we were all pretty proud of him for finishing his first 5k (with no training). He ended up getting a blue ribbon for being the first and only boy in his age group. How exciting is that?

Farmer Ben and I both placed 5th  in our respective age groups and we all got a pretty nice fleece hat and $10 Fleet Feet gift certificates out of the deal. Overall it was definitely a win and I am looking forward to doing this race again next year.

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Post-race

I’ve never been much of a winter racer! But I am definitely seeing the appeal… I’m a big fan of low-key, local races!

So there you have it, race number two of my 14 in 2014!

Let’s chat, favorite winter race? Favorite Race Swag?


January Foodie Penpals

Hi friends! Happy Friday!

It’s that time of month: Foodie Penpal Reveal day! For more info on the FPP program and to view other posts for this month, click here.

This month, I had the pleasure of being matched up with Raina at The Home Plate. She lives in Tennessee, so I sent her some local favorites including maple syrup (obviously) and Michigan seasoning. We had a great time exchanging emails and getting to know each other and we seem to have pretty similar food tastes. Win!  You can see Raina’s post here.

Anyway, Raina sent me an awesome package.

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She sent me all the makings for apricot chicken including chicken broth, apricots, rice, olive oil, spices Tabasco (yay!) and a great recipe!

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How neat is that?

She also sent some amazing chocolate mint cookies which were devoured within two days.

I have to say, this is going to be a tough month to beat. Thanks again Raina!

Have a great weekend, friends!


A Quarter Century??? Almost.

In honor of turning 26 tomorrow, I decided to repost my thoughts from exactly a year ago. Has much changed? Yes and no. I still have a cowlick, I just have shorter hair. I still spill things all over myself… but I’m closer to figuring out exactly what my purpose is. I mess things up from time to time, but I am still ridiculously happy and healthy. Cheers!

Noelle's Notebook

That sounds so…. official.

Today is my last day as a 24-year-old.

Tomorrow I turn a quarter century old.

Can you say “major freak-out?”

I know that age is just a number, but I have this vision in my head of what 25 is supposed to look like… and it’s a lot more put together than my 24 and 364 days old self.

I feel like I am supposed to know what I want to be when I grow up…and should be doing that already! I also feel that I should know how to tame my cowlick, not spill things all over myself and know exactly what direction my life is heading in. But I don’t.  And frankly, all of those things freak me out, just a little. Okay, maybe a lot, depending on the day.

Everything happens for a reason…I know that. If I had followed a strict plan, I certainly would not be…

View original post 162 more words


Scenes from a Ridiculous Road-Trip

Hi Friends!

I am finally getting around to showing you some photos from our road-trip.  In case you weren’t aware, the hubby and I took off to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (we were attending my dear friend, Sara’s wedding), with a slight detour to St. Simons Island, Georgia (to visit Farmer Ben’s dad/step-mom). On the way home, we stopped in Northern Virginia, where Farmer Ben  got to see my old stomping grounds and we caught up with my friends Natasha and Liz!

Can I just tell you, we had a blast? A lot of friends said we were crazy for driving, but we enjoyed it…it also allowed us to have some adventures and views you just can’t get on an airplane.

Anyway, we left immediately after picking up our rental in Burlington, VT and didn’t stop until we finally needed a nap at about 5:30 in the morning… we were in Pennsylvania.

Sidenote: I saved $300+ by renting a car across the lake….how does that work?!

Not gonna lie, I was pretty bad about taking pictures, partly because I was doing a lot of driving (about 50% to be exact) and partly because, well… I just didn’t feel like taking pictures. Silly, I know.

Anyway, here we go….

This photo was somewhere in Virginia… This was after driving through the night with only a quick stop for (delicious) pizza and 3 hour nap. Can you see how happy Farmer Ben is that I am taking his picture?

Can you spy the hitch-hiker?

Can you spy the hitch-hiker?

Next we have South of the Border…this is on the NC/SC line… there were billboards advertising it all the way through both states.

South of the Border

South of the Border

The hurried “oh crap, we passed it!” photo doesn’t do it justice….

We finally hit our first destination (St. Simons Island) around 8:00 pm on Thursday. Unfortunately, it was getting dark, so there wasn’t much to see, yet. We went to a restaurant at the marina where the in-laws live and did a hurried catch-up, then we headed down to the boat to get some much-needed sleep. Spending the night on the boat was a first for me.

The next morning, Ben’s dad made us a salmon, spinach and feta scramble for breakfast, then we headed out to explore the island. What a beautiful place!

Again, I didn’t take a lot of photos, but here are a few….

I don't know why, but I chuckled at this sign...

I don’t know why, but I chuckled at this sign…

Exploring...

Exploring…

Live Oak Trees...

Live Oak Trees and Farmer Ben…

A better view...

A better view…

One last picture before hitting the road again!

One last picture before hitting the road again!

It was a quick trip, but it was nice to catch up and spend some time with family. After some more exploring and a huge lunch at Bob & Janet’s favorite Thai restaurant, FB and I headed north to Mount Pleasant.

I was blown away by how pretty it was…not that I don’t love the scenery up here (hello, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks!), but it was a nice change.

Again… I didn’t take a lot of pictures. Fail on my part .

We checked into our hotel around 6pm on Friday. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with our room.

We planned on having a date night but I got one of the worst headaches I’ve had in a long time and, as a result, wasn’t up to doing much… so we hit up the local Whole Foods (Farmer Ben picked out a local beer to try) and a family-owned Barbecue place for takeout. Can I tell you that I love southern Barbecue?! So good! We spent the night in our hotel room, watching crazy food/restaurant shows and pigging out on barbecue…I’m okay with that.

After breakfast on Saturday, we wanted to do some exploring in Charleston/the surrounding area. After some debate, we ended up driving out to the Firefly distillery to do some tastings. Can you say “great decision?!”

Here's what I tried...

Here’s what I tried…

We picked up bottles of the Southern Lemonade Vokda, Mint Sweet Tea and the Chocolate Pecan Pie Liqueur. So good… I’m planning on making a chocolate cake with the liqueur instead of my usual, Kahlua.

There was also a winery on site, so we meandered over to the tasting room.

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Grapes

Grapes

The wine wasn’t bad, but I have to say, I’ve had better. This was my first time trying wine made from Muscadine grapes and it was a bit different than what I’m used to. We ended up leaving with a bottle of red and a bottle of white that we both enjoyed.

After the tastings, we headed back into Charleston to check out King Street. Once we found a parking spot, we headed over to the Farmers’ Market. It was huge and it took a lot of self-restraint to not buy one of everything. We settled on some amazing dill pickles and pickled beets.

After the market, we scoped out some of the shops on King Street and then popped into one of the many restaurants for lunch… guess what we had….

Barbecue Tacos.... sold.

Barbecue Tacos…. sold.

Seeing how we were in South Carolina, we had to indulge in some more Barbecue…so we settled on some brisket tacos to shake things up. I had fried green tomatoes with mine…Ben had Mac & Cheese.

We perused a few more stores…

Farmer Ben in his element.

Farmer Ben in his element.

And then headed back to our hotel to relax and get ready for Sara’s wedding. I was so excited to see the bride–she was my roommate when I studied abroad in Sevilla, and I decided to wear some earrings I bought on the street in her honor.

I'm really bad at Selfies...

I’m really bad at Selfies…

The venue was beautiful. Fun Fact: People actually camp out in order to wait in line to book a wedding date. I could see why….

Again, I failed at taking pictures, but here are a few of what I did take….

Before the ceremony....

Before the ceremony….

Ceremony site.

Ceremony site.

Cocktail hour/next to the ceremony site.

Cocktail hour/next to the ceremony site.

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Enjoying the beautiful night.

Enjoying the beautiful night.

I could not get enough of this view!

I could not get enough of this view!

After the cocktail hour we headed inside for one of the best wedding meals I have ever tasted (besides our own…haha!)

Guess what we had! More barbecue!
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I absolutely loved the ceilings/chandeliers!

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And can I add… who goes to a wedding and takes pictures of the food and not the bride?! Yup… this girl.

Luckily, I got a photo op at brunch the next day… please excuse my gross appearance!
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After brunch, Farmer Ben and I hit the road and headed for DC.

Luckily, the amazing Liz was gracious enough to let us crash at her place for the night. We met at the Dogwood Tavern in Falls Church… one of my favorite places to go when I lived in the area.

Not only did we get to spend time with Liz, but Ben finally got to meet my good friend Natasha and her manfriend.

Again, please excuse my gross appearance…and alien eyes.
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Farmer Ben and I hit the road early on Monday morning.

Although we enjoyed being away, we were eager to get home.

Anyway, as you can see we had a great trip. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime.

Road trips, yes or no?! Favorite state to visit?! What do you eat on the road?!


Scenes from a Weekend Hike

I should have posted this last week as we did the hike two Sundays ago…but …I didn’t.

Anyway, Ben and I were invited to chaperone a church youth group hike. Per usual, we decided the morning of that we would do it and threw a few snacks, the camelbak, some Energy Bits, and clothes in the back of my car. After church, we picked up some subs to eat for a quick lunch.

We were told the hike would be pretty easy… this was only half-true. The first three-quarters of a mile is flat… the rest is a nice little incline, the whole way up.

In spite of the steep climb, it was totally worth it. Interested in doing the hike?

Click here for more info.

Here are some views from the top….

Battle Wounds....

Battle Wounds….

Wild blueberries growing up the mountain=blue teeth

Wild blueberries growing up the mountain=blue teeth

Take 2.

Take 2.

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

Worth it.

Worth it.

Perfect Day.

Perfect Day.

Anyway, it turned out to be a great day for a hike and I am so glad we decided to go. This is definitely one of the harder hikes I have done, especially once we got closer to the top, but I felt good.

Hiking, yes or no? Favorite outdoor activity?  Are you a last-minute person like me or a planner?


Garden Variety

As promised, here is a Garden Update.

First: All of the rain we’ve gotten has made gardening a challenge. Simply put, we just had too much water!

The plus side of all the rain? We have ha so many greens!

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lettuce, Swiss chard, beet greens.

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On repeat, Beets and greens, Swiss Chard, more lettuce (oak leaf, I think?)

The potatoes have also exploded… Farmer Ben got a little excited and dug up one of the plants… when the rest are ready, we’re going to have to clear out an entire closet to store them…. but there’s something about home-grown potatoes. So good.

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These will be perfect in breakfast burritos.

Our scallions, chives and dill are taking over. We also had a ridiculous amount of cilantro, but we had to pull it and dry it because of all the water.

Chest High Dill... this has been pulled and is now drying.

Chest High Dill… this has been pulled and is now drying.

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Some of my favorite things….

Our peppers and eggplant are only doing so-so…it’s going to be sheer luck if we get a big yield this year. But we have gotten a few jalapenos.

The tomatoes (my favorite) were off to a rough start but have since flourished. I can’t wait until they all ripen! We even got a couple of random plants that popped up. Score!

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The corn, beans and squash are coming along.  Ben is a big fan of the three sisters method, as you can see. We planted a red corn (bloody butcher, I think) for drying and a later season bean.

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Teamwork in Nature

The garlic seems to keep coming back, but we’re not sure how. It’s a survivor.

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Garlic and Carrots…and more squash.

 

The chocolate mint won’t leave.

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Chocolate mint jungle. There is no way to kill mint or to remove it from your garden once it’s been planted: In other news, this has all been pulled and is now being dried for tea.

Our sauce tomatoes (Paisanos) are doing the best out of all the plants. We’re going to be making a LOT of sauce in the next couple of weeks!

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tomato jungle

Farmer Ben and I had a lot of winter squash this year and we put the seeds in our composter. Well, sometimes when you do that, you get mystery plants that take over half of the garden…

This squash plant?

First we thought it was zucchini, then we thought and 8-ball zucchini…then an acorn squash. Now we think it’s a pie pumpkin. Whatever it is, we are going to have a lot of them.

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Can you guess what this is?

Our beets and greens did pretty well. The beets were small, but so tasty and we got a huge yield of beet greens (and to be honest, that’s my favorite part anyway).

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Beets… and more squash.

Again, our beans seem to be doing pretty well, and they provided the perfect shaded area for our lettuce.

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Bean Tee-Pee

We also had Swiss Chard come back this year. Not that we mind because we both love it.

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A box of Chard

Here are some more photos of our mystery squash. Does anyone know what kind it is? Again, we are narrowing it down to pie pumpkins… but we could be wrong.

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And last but not least, here is our potato jungle. I think potatoes are the my favorite item to harvest and it looks like we are going to have a lot of them.

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So there you have it… Farmer Ben’s been working really hard, and although the garden isn’t exactly as we planned it out this year (random squash, Swiss chard and tomato plants, mint take-over), we are enjoying the fruits (err…veggies!) of our (mostly his) labor.

We’ve also been able to share with our friends and loved ones, which is an equally amazing feeling.

What are you growing this year? Did you have any mystery plants? What challenges are you dealing with in your garden?

Happy Friday!

 

 


So Now What?

In case you missed this post, I finally took the plunge and officially signed up for my first marathon! Wow.

On September 22, 2013, I’ll be running the Adirondack Marathon in Schroon Lake, NY. I’m pretty excited.

Here is a view of the course elevation (and part of the map):

Source

Source

It’s going to be ridiculously a bit hilly… but I’m not worried (yet).

So what is my plan?

1. Train: I opted for Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 program. I’m currently on week 4. Luckily, I had already been running consistently for a few weeks because I had to start at the end of Week 2 to be on track. Poor planning on my part….Oops!

I’m going to focus on hill work…because, well, you can see why. Luckily, Schroon Lake isn’t too far of a drive, so if I get desperate, I can head there for a long run.

I’m focusing on, not only getting in the mileage, but also on getting stronger. If this means doing a 10pm 30 Day Shred session or doing an early morning core workout, then so be it.

I’m not as fast as I was last year, but I’m not beating myself up. I’d rather be slow and steady than fast and injured (again).

2. Plan ahead: I’m really good at filling up my schedule, and this summer is no different. Between full-time work, part-time work, volunteering, online classes, praise and worship team, weddings, baking and hubby time, I’m committed almost every weekend for the next couple of months. This is going to make fitting in those long runs tough. It’s also going to require me to say “no.” And…I’m going to have to drag my butt out of bed early. Really early. This is tougher. So if you have any tips, please share them!

3. Sleep: Speaking of dragging my butt out of early, I need to focus on quality sleep. This is going to be the hardest part for me because I have never been a good sleeper. Don’t get me wrong, I love sleep…I’m just not good at it…if that makes sense. It’s really hard to get up early and run (or go for a late-night run, as I had to a few days ago) without enough sleep.

So how do we remedy this? The hubby and I have made a commitment to turn our phones off and, taking it a step further, keep them out of the bedroom. Have you ever woken up at 3:00 in the morning to that obnoxious flashing because you got some sort of junk mail or late night text? Yeah, me too… I’m over it.

Another thing we’re doing is unplugging at least an hour before bed and trying to make our room dark (there’s a light outside our window that goes on at random intervals through the night… not conducive to quality sleep). I’ve also been trying to make a conscious effort to not drink caffeine after a certain time… or anything for matter (raise your hand if you have a small bladder!). Someday, we’re upgrading to memory foam. Someday. Until that day, we’ll see if these other adjustments help.

4. Proper Fueling: I eat pretty well…most of the time (80/20 principle)…but eating for a marathon? I’m not really sure how to eat for optimum training and energy. I can tell you what foods I wouldn’t eat because of stomach issues…and I have a vague idea of eating a variety…but after that, I’m not really sure. I can tell you that the thought of ingesting all those gu’s and gels kind of freaks me out.

So, I’m doing research and experiments to figure out alternatives; I’m reading new running/health blogs and am in the middle of Eat & Run by Scott Jurek (he’s a vegan ultra runner! Awesome, right?!) and getting some ideas from the recipes in the book and his personal anecdotes. I know not all of them will work for me, but I’m willing to try. I’m also eating lots of veggies, mixing up my meals and trying new foods (chia seeds, anyone?). I am also focusing on eating enough quality foods….like this salad (90% of this came from our garden).

My go-to mode of enormous salad transportation.

My go-to mode of enormous salad transportation.

Yesterday, I made rice milk. I don’t think Farmer Ben will ever forgive me.

This weekend? Chocolate Adzuki bars. I’ll be posting my kitchen/fuel successes, so be on the lookout! I’m not working my second job as much, this means that I have more time to play in the kitchen. Win.

5. Have fun. I don’t think this one needs an explanation.

After a really enjoyable run...

After a really enjoyable run…

What about you?! Are you in training? Any tips?!

Happy Running!


Life Update?

You guys! Oh man, you guys! I have so many things to tell you.

First, my online class starts soon and I am beyond excited!

It’s March 21 and the ground is covered in snow. What is this crap? The joys of upstate NY living.

I have made a decision about the marathon.

I’m getting excited for racing this year.

Race planning has officially taken over my life. I admit it.

I am okay with that because I know it’s all for a great cause. And I know if James were here, he’d be so happy.

That being said… I’m still behind on blogging, so I decided to call in reinforcements. I’ve got some guest posters lined up that you are going to love. These people inspire me in so many ways and I cannot wait to introduce them to you!

My current food obsessions are as follows:

Mashed avocado with black pepper, parsley, scallions and lime juice

Popcorn (always)

Pickles (always)

Giant salads with sprouts and hard-boiled eggs

Thin mints

Bagels. Everything bagels.

While planning a race (I’m sorry… I can’t help it), I’m learning a lot about people:

They can be incredibly kind, helpful and giving. Some days I am just overwhelmed by all the help, donations and kind gestures the race committee has received.

I’ve also found that people can be very…funny. They can be conniving, evasive and sometimes, downright rude!

But for the most part, people are good. And our group has been very blessed.

Speaking of which, we’re going to have some amazing prizes for the race. I am so excited.

Also, I love Farmer Ben. He is pretty great.

In the last month, I have been to two baby showers. That is more baby showers than I’ve been to…. ever… maybe.

I also have a wedding this weekend (and a mini college reunion!).

And a bridal shower next weekend.

When did I get so old?! And furthermore, how is it that so many of my friends have children?! I mean… I know how…. but, aren’t I still 18 years old?

Food for thought from Noelle’s Notebook.

Word.

Happy weekend!


My Thoughts: Burritos, Baguettes and Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cider.

Confession Time: I have been in a major funk lately. I’m not sure what caused it, but I just can’t seem to shake it.

All I want to eat is taco salad and/or burritos. Is that wrong? Does it make it any better if I made my own flour tortillas? They’re whole wheat!

I may or may not have eaten half a batch of chocolate chip cookies over the course of 24 hours this weekend…. luckily Farmer Ben made them so he cut down on the sugar….WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I don’t even really want coffee in the morning… what’s wrong with me?! Actually, that’s a lie… I want coffee, but then I can never finish it…I think that is classified as an ever bigger offense.

I’m hoping it’s just a winter fad. I’m trying to drown my sorrows in big glasses of water and fully decked out salads…. whether or not this works remains to be seen.

But until then, I guess I’ll have to keep eating chocolate chip cookies and homemade breakfast burritos. Is there such a thing as too much of either of these things? I hope not.

Burrito eating and chocolate chip cookies soothe my soul.

So does wine tasting at the local vineyards. Yeah, that also happened. There was wine and chocolate. No big deal.

Bourbon barrel-aged hard cider made from local MacIntosh apples? Mind-blowing.  Check it out!

On another note, baguette-me-nots is my latest obsession. Hilarious. You’re welcome.

Happy Monday!