Weekend Recap: Mom & Dad’s 1st Visit! (Part 2)

Picking up where we left off…


We met Saturday morning and headed out for a hike! I definitely wanted to take my parents out for some adventuring while they were here. I thought a new trail would be fun, and one of my friends recommended Crabtree Falls, so that’s where we went.

The trailhead is about an hour from Cville and the trail is ~3.5 miles total. The internet said it was “moderate to strenuous” but…IMG_1516.JPG…according to that sign, 30 people have died by venturing out, so…seems a bit more than strenuous to me, eh?

In all seriousness, the trail was in great condition so even “strenuous” parts were manageable for us. There are steps built into some of the steeper terrain, and as long as you’re OK maneuvering over rocks, you’ll be fine.IMG_0320.JPGIt was about 15 degrees cooler in the mountains than it was in the city. Plus the trail winds along a waterfall for most of the way, which helped cool things off AND meant we got to enjoy some incredible views the whole way. I’m a big fan of instant (or constant) gratification when it comes to hiking 🙂IMG_1521.JPG


IMG_1523.JPGThe bonus surprise was an amazing view once we got to the top too! I had no idea it would open onto a vista like this, but it was so rewarding and breathtaking.IMG_1544.JPG



IMG_1549.JPGIt took us about 1.5 hours to get up and about an hour to get back down. This hike is perfect for a half-day adventure from Charlottesville. We started the hike around 10:30AM on a weekend day, and while it was definitely a popular choice, we didn’t have any trouble finding parking spots or keeping our distance from other groups. (Can’t say the same about Old Rag!)IMG_0317.JPGWe were all smiles the whole way. I don’t think we stopped talking…ever…which made the whole hike fly by! (And yes, by “we” I mean me. I talked the whole time. Future warning for anyone who goes hiking with me!)

Dad was awesome and drove us back from the hike so I could veg out/eat Clif bars/look at all our pictures. He was also a real hero when we got back into town and stopped at Beer Run to get Nathan a case of local beer! That man knows the way to my husband’s heart (does that sentence feel as awkward to read as I do when I type it? But it’s true!). Nate is on night shifts for another couple weeks, so he may or may not end up drinking the beer around 8AM after work but…#nojudgment here.

Our hike worked up a wonderful appetite for dinner that night. We wanted to time our dinner so that Nathan could join us before work. It was so nice to have his company! We originally planned to try Tavola, but there was a wait and we didn’t have much wiggle room for timing, so we went right next door to The Local! When we went to The Local before I knew my parents would love it (and also that I wanted to try everything on the menu), so I was really happy we got the chance to take them on their first trip out.

For starters, Mom got the watermelon gazpacho (which I’ve never had and got to try – reminded me of a fruity salsa, in a good way) and Dad and I both got house salads.

Local “Appalachia Star” mixed greens, soy-ginger vinaigrette and pickled vegetables, topped with crispy won tons and soy roasted almonds

Then the main attractions…

For me: Duck Breast
Pan roasted duck breast, pistachio mole, duck fat sweet potato hash, Virginia apple-cranberry-chayote squash and avocado relish
For Dad: Local “Double H Farm” Berkshire Pork Chop
Chili rubbed, grilled and served with mashed potatoes, shoestring sweet potatoes, and a chipotle adobo gravy
For Mom: Roast Local Squash
stuffed with “Caromont” goat cheese, quinoa, dried cherries and almonds over local braised greens with a fresh tomato sauce, and parmesan (cheese can be omitted for vegan diets)
For Nate: Local “TImber Creek” Chicken and Waffles
Fried Local Chicken Breast over house made orange-pecan waffles with Strawberry-jalapeno “syrup” and a honey-lime dipping sauce

All of the food was absolutely delicious! Nate was in breakfast mode so it was great that they had the chicken and waffles as an option. I’d never had duck before but I would definitely get it again. Very flavorful and tender – all the flavors of my dish complemented each other perfectly with a nice amount of spice, and anything with avocado is gold in my book! Dad’s pork chop was also great, although the mashed potatoes kind of stole the show. And Mom’s squash with the goat cheese was awesome! I love getting to try a little of everything and am glad no one in our family is shy about sharing 🙂

Of course, we had room for a few bites of the dessert special – flourless chocolate cake!IMG_1568.JPGThis was rich and dense and the perfect finishing touch to a delicious meal together. Nate said we should have cake after breakfast more often. Ha!

After dinner, we dropped Nate off at work so my parents could see where the hospital is. I had my paparazzi with me and couldn’t resist this pic. So official!img_0354-jpg.jpegAfter that, I dropped Mom and Dad off for the night with plans for one last breakfast at our apartment together before they hit the road back home.


In the morning, I picked Nate up from work around 7:30 and my parents brought over some delicious food for breakfast. We had originally planned to cook for them but they were able to get some bacon, egg, & cheese sliders from their hotel. Couldn’t beat that! We got to relax and get comfy at home while hearing about their upcoming Alaska trip, Nate’s night at work, and everything in between. It was a perfect way to start the day and cap off their time in Cville. After we finished, they hit the road, Nate went to bed, and I went to church with a friend.

I can’t believe how fast this trip went! I feel like we were able to fit in SO much and really make the most of my parents’ time here. Of course, I already have things on the list for the next time they come back. It was also a lot of fun having them stay for a few days vs. in Indy where it was always just day trips because we lived so close. We get way more quality time together this way and get to do so much more exploring! Their first visit – of many, I hope! – was a success and I’m already looking forward to the next one 🙂

Weekend Recap: Mom & Dad’s 1st Visit! (Part 1)

This weekend was extra fun thanks to our first out-of-town visitors – my parents! They both came to help us move in June, but that trip was a whirlwind-one-night deal. This time, they stayed Thursday to Sunday and we had a few days together full of the fun stuff we’ve discovered so far in Cville!


My parents got into town mid-afternoon on Thursday. I took Thursday and Friday off so I could spend time with them, so once they got settled I met them at their hotel so we could catch up (aka talk/laugh for a couple hours nonstop) without disturbing Nate, who was at home trying to sleep. The timing with his overnight work schedule with their visit was a bummer, but we still got to have evenings with him before he went into work. We were out and about during the days too so it really wasn’t all that bad in terms of him needing to be home/sleeping in the quiet.

We came back to the apartment around 5 (when Nate has been getting up) so we could cook them dinner. Ever since we first tried this recipe, we were dying to make it for our parents. It was the perfect way to spend time together their first night and show them our apartment now that we’ve gotten everything unpacked/organized!

Me stuffing chicken. #glamorous

IMG_1471.JPGAfter dinner, I went to my book club meeting and sent my parents off to date night at Carter Mountain. On Thursdays in summer, they stay open late for people to watch the sunset on the hill. From the photos my parents took, it looked absolutely beautiful!




^Doing sunsets in style.

I had a great time at book club too! It was their first meeting since we’ve moved here (they meet monthly), so it was great getting a feel for what to expect and getting to know some new people. Believe it or not this is my first book club so it’s a fun new experience for me. I love how easy it’s been to plug into groups I’m interested in here so far!


We got an early start Friday by heading to Monticello for the morning. This has been on my bucket list here since day one, but I wanted to save it for a time I could go with my dad. He is a huge history buff and I knew I would get so much more out of the experience if he was there! Plus, if you are a Virginia resident but take out-of-state guests, you get admission for free. Win win 🙂

IMG_1475.JPGBefore our tour of the house, we got to walk around the grounds and check out the basement and gardens.IMG_1484.JPGThis is the view from the top – pretty hazy from the humidity that day! I can see why Mr. Jefferson liked this place even if living on a mountaintop was a little inconvenient during his time…particularly when there was a drought and they had to haul water all the way up from the Rivanna River!

I learned a lot during our visit at Monticello. I had no idea Jefferson was such a foodie. His kitchen was “well equipped” for that era (oven, fire, stovetop, etc.) and he had his cooks train with French chefs to prepare his favorite meals from Paris. It was pretty cool to hear about what he would eat and how the slaves would get all the food from the basement to the main floor/table without even being seen. Different times for sure. IMG_1478.JPGThe garden was probably my favorite part of the whole place though ❤IMG_1486.JPG

IMG_0361Rows and rows of fresh produce. It was quite an operation in the 1700s and is still going strong today. I admire the ways they’ve preserved the condition of everything to be as close as possible to how it was when Jefferson lived there.

The real photog in action!

IMG_1492.JPGWe toured the house but weren’t allowed to take photos inside 😦 I can attest that it was absolutely gorgeous though and so impressive! He had GREAT style – classic choices that are still beautiful today. Every brick for the house was handmade. Can you imagine? A lot of the house was inspired by/modeled after architecture Jefferson observed in Paris, too. He introduced the first skylights in America and had 13 put in at Monticello. Lots of European influences here!IMG_1496.JPGFun fact: Monticello took 40 years to build.IMG_1499.JPGHad to get some photos of the iconic view of Monticello (facing west).

On our way back to the visitors’ center, we stopped by the cemetery where Jefferson and some of the family are buried.

We also stopped by a gravesite for some of his slaves. It was a sobering moment…unlike Jefferson’s cemetery, there were no headstones, there was a broken down fence, and it was about .75 miles from the main house. Times were so different back then. Jefferson was a great president, but the realities he existed in are hard to wrap my head around.

After Monticello, we had lunch and did a little shopping for my parents’ upcoming trip to Alaska (!!!I know, when I grow up I want to be cool like them too). Later that evening after cleaning up (hallmark of a well spent summer day: two showers needed), we met at my apartment and walked to the downtown mall for dinner and Fridays After 5.

The hardest decision was where to eat. It was Restaurant Week, so a lot of the menus were limited. Even though everything sounded amazing, we ended up at one of my standbys: Monsoon Siam!IMG_1505.JPGIt was delicious, as usual 🙂 I love taking different people with me because I get to try different dishes. Goodness knows I will always stay true to my Pad See Eaw ❤

Pad See Eaw with Chicken for me
Chicken Pad Thai for Mom
Kao Pad Fried Rice with Crab for Dad

So glad they got to try this place! It is definitely one of my favorites – delicious and reasonably priced. I think it will be a regular spot for us! Sure seems that way so far, anyway.

After dinner we walked back to the pavilion for music.IMG_1512.JPG-1The band was really great this week! They had such a range – Jackson 5, Etta James, Walk the Moon, even ACDC. A lot of people were dancing, including some adorable kids in front of us who kept us highly entertained the whole time.

We walked back to my apartment as the sun set and reminisced on a wonderful summer day. I knew I would sleep well that night: good food, good time with family, and a full day of fun. Which is a good thing too…I needed to rest up for our grand plans for the next morning! Stay tuned for part 2 of their trip 🙂

Things I’m Loving Thursday: Favorite Smells

Is “Things I’m Loving Thursday” a thing? No? Will we make it one? Maybe…

Funny story about favorite smells. When Nathan and I were first dating (we’re talking like…date #4 or 5 here…), I asked him what his favorite scent was. This was my oh-so-subtle way to find out what kind of cologne to buy him for Valentine’s Day which was coming up quickly. Of course he had no clue where this question came from or why I was asking. After major hesitation/awkward silence, Nate puzzled, “I guess banana bread?” Alas, they don’t sell banana bread scented cologne, so I never did end up getting him any and my clearly great conversation skills fell oddly flat that night.

We still laugh about this sometimes. Now that I know Nathan better, I understand that he’s all-dude who grew up with all brothers, so having a favorite “scent” was never something that crossed his mind. ME, on the other hand…I have always had a lot of favorite scents 🙂 I believe my Bath & Body Works trajectory went something like: Cucumber Melon —> Fig & Vanilla Sugar –> Japanese Cherry Blossom. #noshame #2for1forlife

I think our sense of smell is something that is seriously underrated and neglected. It can bring instant comfort/memories/pleasure and it’s so simple – we just need to slow down enough to stop and smell the roses, as they say. In that spirit, I’m sharing some of my favorite scented products today in hopes that you will find time to do a little something to bring yourself joy/simplicity too (and/or encourage my addiction and tell me YOUR favorite scents! Muahaha).


For the BODY

  • Coconut Water Dial Body Wash: My latest favorite-smell find. I loved it so much, it inspired this whole post. This body wash has a really refreshing, summery scent to it that’s not overwhelming. In other words, you don’t feel like a coconut dessert when you’re done unlike other coconut-scented products I’ve tried before. This soap makes me feel extra clean after I shower which is important considering how gross the humidity/summer heat can make me feel this time of year.
  • Moroccan Oil Shampoo & Conditioner: My mom gave me this brand to try last year, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I try to rotate my shampoos/conditioners, so I’m always SUPER excited when it’s time for another round of Moroccan Oil, which it currently is ❤
  • Marc Jacobs Daisy Perfume: This is my long-term love. Most perfumes I outgrow/get tired of before the whole bottle is used. Daisy is one of my favorites and it has been for years. Plus, isn’t the flowery cap adorable? #thingsnathanwillneverunderstand

For the HOME

  • White Barn Japanese Cherry Blossom Room Freshener: I have used this room freshener since my senior year in college. This was another gift from my mom and I was immediately obsessed. It has a nice light, floral, fresh smell that is perfect for the spring and summertime. I used to use it every day during those seasons but now it’s a special-occasion type spray so I don’t run out as quickly. (Does anyone else hoard/save their favorite products for fear of not being able to replace them like me?)
  • DW Home White Sandalwood Candle: This candle was a going-away gift from a friend in Indy and it has been such a comfort here in Cville! Feels like a little piece of home every time I light it ❤ It is also the PERFECT scent for summertime. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about that pumpkin spice/apple cider coziness when it comes to fall candles, but this one has a real beachy feel to it and it puts me in a zen state of mind whenever we burn it.
  • Capri Blue Volcano Candle: A classic. If you haven’t ever bought a capri blue candle, do yourself a favor and get one now. I love this candle so much that whenever it runs low, we buy another one. In other words…this is a year-round staple in our house.


  • Mimosa Trees: That amazing smell you catch a whiff of this time of year? Yeah…it’s MIMOSA TREES. I finally identified what this scent was this year after smelling it in Bloomington, Indy, and beyond. My mom finally helped me figure out where it was coming from after a hike one day and I am in love. It’s especially great because the mimosa blooming season seems to last longer/later into the summer here, so I’m still enjoying this even though it’s middle of July 🙂

So there you have it! My favorite scents. Now that Nathan knows me better, he indulges my need for smell-good things. But I think if I asked him his favorite scent today, he’d still say “banana bread.”

Book Review: Spartina

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to make a living as a fisherman? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to build your own boat? Or man a ship – by yourself – in a storm? Or catch lobsters and crabs and – sometimes – cocaine-filled quahogs? Spartina by John D. Casey is your first row look at all of it!

Spartina tells the story of Dick Pierce, a commercial fisherman in Rhode Island, and the other people who live there. Dick has spent his entire adult life on the sea on other people’s boats. Now, with a wife and two nearly grown sons, he is anxious to finish building his own boat, the Spartina-May.

There is a whole cast of characters that make completion of this boat and earning a living while he’s doing it more complicated. The Narragansett Bay has a Gatsby feel as the rich begin to move in, building condominiums on formerly empty land that Dick has grown up with his whole life. As he watches the local area transform, he runs out of money for building his boat and gets tangled in a tricky web himself.

This book tells the account of life as a fisherman, and I found myself Googling many of the terms Casey uses to refer to parts of the boat, different sea animals, and other expressions. The way he’s written this book sweeps you up in the culture and livelihood of the whole area, and even though it’s one I’ve never even visited before, I could picture it clearly in my mind. I found myself wondering if Casey had lived in Rhode Island while he wrote this book or grew up there himself because it seemed so authentic. I’m not the only one who’s impressed, by the way – this book won the 1989 National Book Award.

Even though it’s primarily an adventure story, there’s a little romance to go along with it. Take this quote for example:

“She was better than him. It wasn’t alarming to hear this news, it was deeply, thickly soothing. She was lightened of a dangerous disabling weight. She wasn’t him. She’d become separate from him, and yet she was staying with him.”

Of course, that’s Dick talking about the Spartina-May, but when your life depends on your boat, you can understand why he falls in love 🙂

Stats: 385 pages
4/5 stars
Recommended for: Anyone up for an adventure and a peek inside Rhode Island/fisherman life. I think this would be a great epic summer read that will sweep you up and make you think. (It’s definitely not a ‘beach’ read in terms of levity, but still a fun one to get into.)
Up next: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (It’s summertime so you know what that means…my book selections will be bent toward the classics for the next few months. Kicking things off by finally getting to a childhood favorite!)

Weekend Recap: Starry Nights and Orchard Days

We wrapped up another fun weekend together. Summer is my favorite – always something to do and such great weather lately! This was Nathan’s only weekend off this month, so we tried to make the most of it while also gearing up/transitioning to him working night shifts, which he’ll do for the rest of July. (Womp womp…)


Friday was pretty chill. We ate dinner at home (leftovers from this dinner – still just as delicious!) before heading to Fridays After Five. We haven’t been since our first Friday in town, so it was fun to go back and see people we know. Last time we were in a sea of strangers, so it’s cool when things like this happen that make Cville feel more and more like home.


Saturday we had fun plans!

First, dinner fuel:

Best pork we’ve ever made thanks to the cast iron skillet!

Then: Starry Nights at Veritas.

We’ve had this on our calendar ever since we found out Nate’s weekend off would coincide. One Saturday a month during the summer, Veritas, one of the local vineyards, opens up their lawn in the evening for live music, dancing, food/picnics, stargazing, and – of course – wine. This is THE place to be when they have it…so many people but plenty of room for everyone! I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience even though I had such high hopes to begin with.

We met up with a small group of friends there and it was so much fun! We spread out some blankets, watched the sun go down, and shared a bottle of rose.


I can’t believe this is real life ^^^^^

We got home close to 11 and pretty much went straight to bed…#partyanimals. Such a fun way to spend a summer night with new friends!


Sunday we went with friends to church before having an afternoon date just the two of us to Carter Mountain Orchards. We’ve heard a ton about this place and it’s not far away at all, so it was only a matter of time before we made it there. We were grateful this window of time opened up before Nate would be on nights AND while peaches are still in season!


This is about ~10 minutes from our apartment. The views were amazing! A month of living here and I’m still nowhere CLOSE to used to being surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. ❤


We were given some tips for how to pick ripe peaches, each got a bag to fill up, and headed into the orchard.


We lucked out with the weather and it wasn’t too hot while we were there. Perfect afternoon to be out and about which isn’t always the case in July!


We had to restrain ourselves from not picking all the peaches. We tried to go for quality over quantity 🙂

Beachys with some peachys…


After peach picking, we walked around the cute little market store. I definitely want to come back for a slice of their apple pie, some pumpkin donuts, apple butter, ice cream…Ok, I want to come back for one of everything, please!


They open on Thursday evenings to watch the sunset from this view during summertime. Definitely on our to-do list! It’s breathtaking even in the bright light of day, though, and we loved soaking it up with some sweet peaches, too.


And that was our weekend! This week feels short to me because my parents come into town Thursday to visit for a few days, so I’m counting down to some fun times with them. Stay tuned 🙂