Book Review: The Secret Garden

My first classic for the summer was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I can’t believe I’ve never read this book. The movie version was a childhood favorite for me and my sister! I even remember stumbling on our own “secret garden” out in the woods behind our house growing up. Needless to say, this story had an impact on me then, and it still holds magic for me today.

The Secret Garden tells the story of Mary Lennox, an Indian girl who is sent to live with her uncle Archibald Craven in Yorkshire, England after a cholera epidemic wipes out everyone she knows in India. Ten-year-old Mary finds herself at Misselthwaite Manor with more than a hundred rooms, a servant Martha, groundskeeper Ben Weatherstaff, and Mrs. Medlock. Those are just a few of the cast of characters Mary encounters, some of the most important ones not being humans at all – like a robin, fox, and two squirrels.

Mary has a curious nature, and the moorland and forest around her help bring her to life. She spends days exploring outside and gaining strength. When it rains, she does the same thing indoors, wandering the manor even though she’s been told not to go too far. Mary rarely encounters her uncle, but she does find another blood-relative along the corridors. As they strike up a friendship, a whole new wave of energy and invigoration wash over Mary.

There is one forbidden place outside, which Mary comes to call the Secret Garden. No one has stepped foot in it for 10 years, ever since Mrs. Craven died. Mr. Craven locked the door and buried the key, but – as Mary’s curious nature grows – she is determined to find it.

Over the course of the book, Mary blooms along with the rest of the world. If you have the chance (or patience) to wait to read this until spring or summer, DO IT. It was such a treat to be able to enjoy the outdoors while Mary is doing the same thing in the book. I found myself taking more notice of the fresh flowers bursting around me, and I think the appreciation is in large part because of this book! I don’t always read books seasonally, but after enjoying getting to do that with Winter Garden so much, I like when it works out that way. This book is definitely fit for spring if you can manage it!

The book is simple enough to be enjoyable as a summer read but has more heft and thoughtfulness to it than traditional “beach” reads. I highly recommend this classic novel if you are in need of some fresh air and a reminder that sometimes the things we take for granted in life are the most precious of all.

Stats: 288 pages
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Recommended for: People of all ages. I loved the story as a kid and found new appreciation for it as an adult. If you need a breath of fresh air, this book will be as close as you can get without getting literal. Although, reading it outside in the fresh air is even better!
Up next: Song of the Shank by Jeffrey Renard Allen

Weekend Recap: Sweet Treats, Pizza Eats, and a New-to-Us Trail

Nate and I wrapped up another fun weekend together. This was the last weekend before we both started work (he’ll be on cardiac ICU starting Saturday after orientation all week), so we made sure to make the most of our time together!


Friday was pretty rainy, so we started watching House of Cards. Four episodes later…the rain stopped and we went out for some frozen custard from Kohr Brothers!


Kohr Bros. is relatively local (they have a handful of locations in Virginia). Nate got a mint and chocolate swirl in a waffle cone. I got a chocolate and vanilla swirl with sprinkles.


Summertime in a cup! ‘Twas perfect.


On Saturday, we spent most the day at a pool party for incoming interns and their partners. The rain cleared out (yay!) and we enjoyed getting to meet a lot of new people.

That night, we went out for date night at Lampo. This Neapolitan pizza place was on the top of our list of places to try after hearing about it nonstop. They make Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN), “certified Neapolitan pizzas using only the finest ingredients.” There are currently <100 VPNs in the U.S. and I can attest that there really IS a difference. Nate and I both felt like we ate pizza for the first time at Lampo.

Like pretty much everything else we’ve gone to so far, Lampo was less than a mile away. (Dangerous!) We were warned that there is always a wait, so we got there at 6 and had a couple drinks while we waited for a table to open up.


We eventually got seated at a spot outside and took a couple photos.


…And literally within 2 minutes of this photo rain started pouring and they moved everyone inside 🙂

Presto, change-o!



Food followed not long after. They serve everything as it comes out of the oven/kitchen so it’s all as fresh as possible.

We started with a salad.

This was delicious! Nate and I both loved the maple dressing. I am also a big fan of fennel. The hazelnuts reminded me of the salad I had at Napolese. Added some good crunch!
Next up – the REALLY good stuff. We shared 2 pizzas.
As you can see, the pizza comes with a pair of scissors to cut your slices. So cool! We’d never eaten pizza before that way but it was fun (and meant we could make the slices as big as we wanted…).
But about the pizza…GAME OVER. I will never be the same and it has ruined all other pizza for me. Aside from incredible crust (melt in your mouth but with just the right amount of chew too), the sauces on each were amazing. The prosciutto comes with their traditional white sauce and the margherita has the red (as you can see). Both were exquisite and I’m glad we tried one of each. The balance of flavors was perfectly done – that hint of lemon with prosciutto – yum. Clearly I am at a bit of a loss for coherent words but that should tell you how good it all was! I feel like we’ve been to Italy now but I am waiting to take my sister here (who actually has been to Italy) for her to be the judge. 🙂

We followed pizza with more House of Cards before calling it a night. In other words… #myperfectdatenight


Sunday was spent trying a new church and getting ready for the workweek (what?! Haven’t had to say that in a while…) In the afternoon, we ventured out to Monticello Trails. A few of the residents had told us about them at the social on Saturday and it was a nice, lower key kind of hike!


We walked around for a couple hours exploring and definitely plan to go back! It’s about ~10 minutes from our apartment, so just a short drive away from another great nature escape.


Having so much wilderness close by to relax in makes me feel SO spoiled and completely at peace after living in a city for a few years.


We have some fun plans this week while Nate is doing orientation – a couple more socials, which should be fun, including a dinner out tonight. I’m sensing a theme here in Cville…lots of good food with fun people. I can get used to this 😉

Home Sweet (Cville) Home: Apartment Update

After a couple weeks in our new apartment, the place is really starting to feel like home. Nathan and I were intentional as we unpacked/set up about only using the things we REALLY loved/made us happy. It’s so easy over time to just let stuff build up (as we learned in just 3 short years in Indianapolis). Even though we purged a ton as we packed up for the move, we had a second wave of purging as we unpacked in Cville to get rid of the excess and only display happy items. #minimalist #hippie 

We literally made 3 trips to Goodwill within the first week, but it felt so good! I’ll be pointing out some of my favorite happy-making items in the below photos. Still a work in progress as I’m sure it’ll take several months before we really settle in, but for now, it’s in a good spot as work starts and real life resumes.



Favorite items in the kitchen include my Anthropologie floral oven mitts, Rifle Paper Co. recipe tin, dish towel from my sister from her trip to Paris, mint green Kitchenaid mixer, and rug we got for our wedding (also from my sis!).

Bar area:


Favorite items include new barstools (love the pop of blue!), new salt & pepper shakers from Target, our cow cookie jar (named Bessie, despite Nathan’s insistence that you can’t name inanimate objects…), and my Letterfolk board ❤ (not visible in this pic but to the left of the barstools).

Living room:


^Before we moved in and halfway through the week before we got a couch…



Favorite items include the rug we bought when we first got married, porcupine pencil holder, “Go Jump in the Ocean” throw pillow from our honeymoon, IU coasters & Nick’s jar, NEW COUCH! (our belated anniversary gift to each other this year), my keyboard, and London wall art in the corner.

Entertainment area:


Favorite items include the leaning bookshelf with vintage editions of some of my favorite classics and many other meaningful mementos, plus the Indiana wall art I made for Nathan for one of our dating anniversaries.



Favorite items include our new patio set (!!) – a lifesaver when we literally did not own barstools or a couch for a few days, and my spider plant Zeke (again with naming inanimate objects…) who successfully made the trip from Indy to Cville! I can’t wait to plant some friends for him all over this patio.



Favorite items include our new shower curtain (told Nate I wanted a beachy/classy feel so all the light greens and blues in this room make me happy) and framed photos of the beach from my mom.



Favorite items include the French Paper Co. poster from a conference and our London pillow. Lots of wall space left so we’re looking forward to finding art to fill it!

Ta-da! It’s still a work in progress, but we are loving it so far. It’s been great to have the time to work together on sorting through all of our belongings and figuring out our own style based on what we’ve learned about each other and our lifestyle over the last few years. *Hopefully* a smaller apartment helps us keep up this minimalist approach! Moving will certainly be simpler the next time around if we do 🙂

Dinner Recipe: Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts

We upped the ante on our resolution this month and tried not one but TWO new recipes. Once I got my hands on Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings for my birthday, I couldn’t wait to put it to good use. Nate and I picked out a fancier-than-normal recipe since we had extra time to cook together before work started.

Side note about the cookbook… SO many people recommended it that I couldn’t resist getting a copy even though most of the cookbooks I already own collect more dust than anything else. BUT I knew this one would be worth the shelf space! I ❤ her philosophy toward food: no calorie counts/nutritional info/gluten-dairy-fat-free ingredients…just LOVE and HAPPINESS toward eating/food/yourself – a breath of fresh air! Chrissy is married, too, so her recipes are down-to-earth and family friendly. It’s like the subtitle says: it’s food you WANT to eat (and your husband/kids/friends will want to eat too). Can’t say enough good things about this cookbook but just so glad I finally own it! /sidenoteover

This recipe was a few days in the making because we had to get our cast iron skillets ready to use. We have two of them but hadn’t broken them in yet, so it was a process of seasoning & oiling & baking them 4-5 times over the course of a few days before they were ready. Definitely made a difference in the end though, and now they’ll be good to go anytime we want to use them!

In the interest of copyrights, I won’t be sharing measurements when it comes to how we made these, but consider it a favor if it means you go buy her cookbook because you will LOVE it. This one recipe alone makes the whole thing worth it!

Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts
(recipe source)


  • Crumbled goat cheese
  • Cream cheese (room temperature)
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 2 bacon strips
  • Olive oil
  • Cherry tomatoes


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together cheeses and spices until creamy and smooth.
  3. Cook the bacon until it’s crispy, set aside on paper towel.
  4. Beat the chicken into half-inch thick pieces, season with salt and pepper.
  5. Put half of the cheese mixture onto each chicken breast, topping with crumbled bacon. IMG_1272
  6. Roll up each chicken breast and wrap with 3 slices of prosciutto each.
  7. Brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper.IMG_1274.JPG
  8. Bake in a cast iron skillet (the same one from the bacon) with whole cherry tomatoes for 30 minutes. IMG_1276.JPG

When it comes out, you’ll hear some sizzling, the house will smell amazing, and you’ll see something like this…


*…and the hallelujah chorus sounds*

Sooo perfect and dreamy in every bite. The chicken was perfectly juicy, the prosciutto nice and crisp, and the crunch of bacon with the creamy cheese was heavenly. Nate and I both agreed this is the best thing we’ve ever cooked and the flavors were insane together. A bite of juicy tomato with the chicken … YUM.

We feel like real grown-ups now that we can cook something like this. We kept saying, “I feel like our moms” because it was so good (and they’re both amazing cooks), and we can’t wait to make it for them when they visit!IMG_1278.JPG

We served ours with charred asparagus (also done in a cast iron skillet and SO good!) and buttered French bread.

Nathan has really helped me learn to have fun cooking. I would have NEVER tried this recipe without him because I get really intimidated by more complicated dishes. But Nathan has a great attitude about everything and is like “why not just try it?” If it looks good, he goes for it. He doesn’t worry about it failing (and my anxious mind is like “if we fail we wasted food and then we have no dinner”) but, as you can see, the results are pretty much perfection anyway. He is adventurous in a lot of ways and it really pays off in the kitchen. With such delicious results, the operant conditioning is going to work on me in no time and I’ll be branching out even when I cook solo 😉

So, two take-home messages:

  1. Go buy the cookbook.
  2. Prepare to see a LOT more recipes from Cravings on the blog in the coming months…weeks…maybe even days at this rate. 🙂

Weekend Recap: 26th Birthday Shenanigans

June is my favorite month of the year for a couple reasons: 1) it finally starts to feel like summer has arrived and 2) it’s my birthday month! Yes, birthday month is a thing for me. Luckily, Nate indulges this 🙂 My birthday fell on a Sunday this year, so we made sure to celebrate over the weekend!


We kicked things off Friday with happy hour at Beer Run. We had heard SO many good things about Beer Run, which is literally 100 yards from our apartment complex, so we were excited when a window of free time opened up to check it out.

Nathan was in heaven.


The weather was perfect so we sat outside for more than an hour talking and imbibing. Nathan tried a couple beers, including one that came in a “sissy” glass, according to him.


We didn’t have food this time but the menu looked great! We also loved the little market store attached with all kinds of beer and specialty goods. We will definitely be back here frequently. Having it so close is going to be dangerous for our budget!


After a low-key dinner at home, we hit up *my* version of happy hour: dessert! After getting a few recommendations, we checked out Arch’s Frozen Yogurt on The Corner (an area right off of UVA’s campus). I basically came for one reason: gooey brownie topping – FOR REAL – in addition to two full counters of other amazing toppings.

I hadn’t had fro-yo in forever (our Orange Leaf in Indy closed about a year ago), so this was a fun walk down memory lane on a nice summer night.

Cake batter fro-yo as a base for both of us. 

My toppings: sprinkles (birthday!!), gooey brownie, walnuts, Reese’s cups, and golden Oreos

Nathan’s toppings: blueberries, heath, and strawberries

In other words…one of us is 5 years old with a raging, irrational sweet tooth, and the other is a respectable adult. Since this was still technically before my 26th birthday I figured my tastebuds just hadn’t matured yet like Nathan’s 😉

On the way home we saw the full moon for the month! Mom had told me it would be on June 9th so I kept an eye out for it. The moon is always so much cooler in person than in photos. Regardless, I still tried to capture it…


We enjoyed watching the NBA playoffs at home and then called it a night!


Saturday began with a walk to the Farmers’ Market for some fresh flowers. I’d been waiting to get some until we had the apartment set up, so I already knew exactly where I wanted to put them. I ended up buying a small handful from a stand called Lesley’s Garden.

Life goal: Be able to name all the different kinds of flowers I see without having to Google them.

Next up – Sweethaus to get some birthday cupcakes for later! One cookie dough cupcake and one salted caramel cupcake to go (and to split).

Then a Chick-Fil-A date for lunch because it was closed on my actual birthday and I couldn’t miss the excuse to get some of my favorite food 🙂


The afternoon was spent reading by the pool (aka my version of heaven this time of year) and then a low key dinner at home. Followed by a walk on the Rivanna Trail at sunset!


I’d been hearing about this trail ever since we visited in March. It sounded like a bigger, more nature-y version of the Monon in Indy. I was eager to find it but hadn’t had the chance yet, so I was THRILLED when Nate said he’d stumbled upon it while I was at the pool. He was kind enough to go back for the second time that same day and show me around 🙂


This is about 1 mile from our apartment…probably even closer once we get to know the entry points better. It follows along the Rivanna River where people were swimming, inner tubing, canoeing, fishing, etc. I can see us spending a LOT of time here. It feels like we have the country in our backyard to one side and the city to another – the perfect mix!

Finding this pocket of paradise felt like a birthday gift in itself 🙂 Another great discovery during our first week in Cville and a wonderful way to end the day.


My actual birthday began with the smell of casseroles baking in the oven that Nate had gotten up early to make (#dreamboat)…immediately felt like a holiday! French toast casserole and sausage/grits casserole by request (and recipes courtesy of my mama ❤ ).


We enjoyed breakfast al fresco with some Farmers’ Market fruit on the side.


After breakfast, I walked to a free yoga class at a relatively new studio, NOWYoga. (Well…the studio itself isn’t new, but the owners are.) They have free classes every Sunday so I definitely want to try to attend when I can, especially since I can walk there!


The open air/patio setup was so dreamy and relaxing. I felt suuuuper stretched out by the end and it was a great birthday treat to myself.

Next stop: King Family Vineyards for a polo match! On Sundays in summertime, this vineyard holds free polo matches in the afternoon. We packed a picnic and joined the crowd.

Needless to say, neither of us have any clue about polo. But we weren’t alone! I was worried we’d feel completely out of place but the whole experience was very casual and relaxing and everyone was really friendly. It was fun to try something new and the horses (and scenery) were beautiful!



It really doesn’t feel like real life sometimes and I had to pinch myself a few times as I realized I got to spend my 26th birthday at a vineyard in the mountains watching polo. What is this life!?!

A little golf cart from the vineyard circles the field with wine for sale throughout the match too. Great strategy on their part 😉 It was really hot so we only stayed for about an hour, but we had a great time and will definitely be back (with an umbrella or tent for shade next time…)


Our afternoon included phone calls with family, pool time and reading, and happy hour while opening some birthday cards. Once the sun went down a little bit, we walked to dinner on the mall at Monsoon Siam. We’d been there during our visit in March and I had been craving it ever since!

We scored a perfect table for two tucked into a corner. I love the cozy atmosphere of this restaurant – it’s in an old house, just like our favorite Thai restaurant in Bloomington.

We got there in time for “happy hour” (which ends at 6:30) so drinks were still super cheap. (#budgetlife) I ordered the exact same thing as last time (pad see eaw with chicken) and Nate got pad pik sod with beef.


…And we cleaned our plates 🙂 Just as delicious as I remembered and totally hit the spot! Craving satisfied.

A nice stroll back home at sunset helped us make room for the grand finale for my birthday weekend: dessert! We dug into those Sweethaus cupcakes and shared half of each (served on the special birthday plate, of course).

Nate’s favorite was the salted caramel and mine was the cookie dough (no surprise there). But they were both amazing and it was hard to choose between the two! The cake part (which was marbled chocolate and vanilla for both) wasn’t dry at all, which is usually why I don’t enjoy cupcakes. And the frosting:cake ratio was ON POINT. The frosting itself was among the best I’ve ever had (think Sweet Stuff in New Albany) and I can’t wait to go back! I think we’d try new flavors next time just to see what else there is…but these two are going to be hard to beat.

It was such a fun birthday and I have a feeling this whole year will be more of the same as we continue our Charlottesville adventures. Thanks to everyone near and far who helped make the start of my 26th year one of my favorite birthdays yet!

Cville Snapshots: Fridays After Five, Farmers’ Market, Old Rag Mountain Hike, & More

Our first week in Cville was a nice mix of work and play. Work = unpacking boxes, organizing rooms, purging closet (singular, because we now only have one…to share…), and furniture shopping. “Play” looked a little different from what we are used to doing in Indy since we are now walking distance from downtown and less than an hour from incredible mountains.

After our families left last Friday, we took advantage of the great weather and walked to Fridays After Five on the downtown mall. Every Friday evening in summertime, live bands play at the amphitheater from 5:30-8:30ish. There were food trucks, local beers, and tons of people. We love live music, so this was a real treat for us – especially because it’s free! This particular night was all blues bands, but it changes every week. We are already looking forward to going back more this summer.


On our first Saturday morning in town, we checked out the Farmers’ Market. We loved the Broad Ripple Farmers’ Market in Indy, so we definitely wanted to get acquainted with the closest one here as soon as we could. The place was hopping!

We didn’t buy anything this time but saw some great selections for all the usual suspects (produce, flowers, etc.) plus some enticing local food stands (Pie Guy, I’m looking at you). We’ll definitely be back! I can easily see this being a staple of our weekends in summertime. It’s about a 10 minute walk from where we live so no excuses not to go regularly!

We’ve really enjoyed strolling around town and trying to figure out the streets here more when we need a break from work/have some extra time. We figured out the numbered streets run north-south here, opposite of east-west like Indy. Good to know! On one of our first jaunts I made a friend:

Photo Jun 02, 3 49 40 PM

…And another time I made use of a brick wall and the brick walkway of the downtown mall for a backdrop:

Photo Jun 03, 11 38 47 AM

On another day with great weather, we decided to venture out for our first hike in Virginia. Having access to mountains and trails was one of the biggest draws to this area for us. We have always enjoyed our Gatlinburg getaways and being outdoors in general, so we wanted to start off on a strong note with a highly recommend trail: Old Rag Mountain.

But first – brunch! With a hodgepodge of groceries (still working on restocking) we fueled up with an Eggo (#childhood), piece of French toast, eggs, and fruit. This plate x2 for us!

Photo Jun 06, 9 14 54 AM
*Please note the lack of syrup. Near crisis moment when we realized we hadn’t bought any here yet 😦 Made do with peanut butter instead. #firstworldproblems

The trailhead is about an hour away from Charlottesville. The whole drive out was beautiful. When the mountains kept getting closer/bigger I knew we were on the right track!

Photo Jun 06, 12 49 03 PM

The parking lot is ~1 mile from the start of the trail and then the trail itself is ~9 mile loop with stunning panoramic views. We made it about 3 miles in and then realized we’d have to climb steep rocks to continue…so we decided not to push our luck on the first trip out and turned around after we got to this beautiful summit.

Photo Jun 06, 1 19 57 PM

The views we saw were absolutely worth it and I would happily do this portion of the trail again! We decided we might need to invest in hiking boots before we tackle the rougher terrain.

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Nathan was definitely more adventurous than me and kept creeping closer to the edge during my photo ops…and I realized I am more afraid of heights than I thought. Ha!

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We are loving the lifestyle in Charlottesville so far and exploring a new place together has been a ton of fun. I think we’ve done a good job of taking advantage of the time before work starts for both of us, and I look forward to sharing more adventures around town this week!

Belated Anniversary Dinner: Hamiltons’ at First & Main

Somewhere between packing boxes and farewell plans with friends and family, our 3rd anniversary snuck up on us the week before we moved to Charlottesville. As the date got closer, Nate and I decided to have a belated celebration once we got settled in Virginia vs. squeeze in another night out in Indy. After a few days of unpacking, we were more than ready for a night on the town earlier this week!

We decided to make an evening of it by checking out Wonder Woman at Violet Crown  theater on the downtown mall before our dinner reservations. We walked from our apartment (so far the walkability here is my FAVORITE part of our living situation) and were able to enjoy some cool post-rain weather.

Photo Jun 05, 4 22 13 PM

The movie was SO good. I usually don’t get into action films much, but the girl power in this one gave me all the feels. I’d heard good things about it and it definitely lived up to my expectations! Highly recommend.

Next stop: Hamiltons’ at First & Main for dinner. It was literally <100 yards from the theater so we were there in no time.

Photo Jun 05, 6 44 21 PM
My handsome date!

When we walked in, we knew right away that Hamiltons’ was a great choice for our date night. It seemed “our style”…nice and classy but casual and cozy too.

Photo Jun 05, 6 45 55 PMOnce we were settled at our table, Nate ordered a local imperial double IPA, Throatlatch. He said it was “oh my gosh, so good.” I’ll take his word for it!

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I was perfectly content with the fresh-from-the-oven bread basket…

Photo Jun 05, 7 09 37 PM

Plus a starter salad:

Mixed Greens with House Vinaigrette and apples, jicama, radish, cucumber, tomatoes, and candies pecans

Photo Jun 05, 7 03 50 PM

The hardest decision we had to make all day was which entrees to choose. I love our dinner dates because we get to try a couple different dishes…in this case, we wanted to try about 5 of them. So we had to narrow it down 😉

For me, I went with a southern classic:

Carolina Jumbo Shrimp poached in chardonnay and lemon with Woodson’s Mill Creamy Grits, smoked roma tomato confit, and fresh arugula

Photo Jun 05, 7 24 06 PM

This was AMAZING. Nate declared it the best shrimp and grits he’s ever had after just one bite. It totally hit the spot for me too. I’ve had a couple seafood dishes in Cville so far and they have both been superb. Being closer to the ocean than in the Midwest probably helps!

Nathan went with:

Housemade Linguine with a Spring Pea Pistou caramont chèvre, prosciutto crisps, blistered cherry tomatoes, and fresh arugula

Photo Jun 05, 7 24 13 PM

Lucky for me, he shared too! The flavor combinations of this dish were out of this world. I’m a sucker for a soft cheese, plus the prosciutto crisps (basically fancy/yummier bacon bits) were delicious. The pea pistou seemed like a milder version of pesto. Overall, A+ for both entrees!

Photo Jun 05, 6 48 54 PM

After dinner, we strolled back to our apartment as the sun set. That sounds like a cheesy storybook line but it’s true…We literally walked home with the mountains in the background and the sun setting behind them. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve pinched ourselves over the last week to remind us this is REAL life. I don’t know if we’ll ever get used to it, but we’re absolutely loving it!

Cheers to a belated but worth-of-the-wait anniversary celebration in Cville 🙂 Thanks to Hamiltons’ for being a great first date night for us!

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Indy to Cville: Part 2

Let’s pick up where we left off: heading eastward into the sunrise on June 1. *trying to make this sound more exciting/wonderful than a 9+ hour drive & moving for the second day in a row actually is…*

Photo Jun 01, 6 32 46 AM

I lucked out and got Mom as my road trip buddy the whole drive to Charlottesville, so she captured gorgeous photos along the way, starting with the sun coming up over the Ohio River as we drove out of town.

I love summertime in large part because of longer lasting daylight. Having the sun up with us even though we left first thing in the morning made it feel not quite as early as it was and made it easier to stay awake 🙂

I drove my car, Nathan drove his, and my dad drove the truck with the U-Haul. We caravanned down I-64 and eventually met up with Don and Tim (who were coming from Cincy) too. We even got to stop and have and lunch together, which made it fun!

Photo Jun 01, 10 39 02 AM
I saw a lot of this view the whole way there.

Once we got into West Virginia, the mountains just kept getting bigger and bigger. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to such beautiful views. So breathtaking! Between that and girl talk with my mom, the drive flew by for me. I was just so excited to finally be on our way and getting closer and closer!

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Before we knew it, we were in our new home state – Virginia 🙂

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Things started to look a *little* familiar from our trip here in March. It was a nice feeling to know this time I’d get to stay vs. drive back to Indiana after a couple days.

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Nate and I got started at the leasing office at our apartment complex to fill out the last bit of paperwork and get our keys. With the new keys in hand, our 24 hours of homelessness officially ended. It’s a disorienting feeling to know you literally don’t have a place to call your own, so even just getting the keys made me feel more at peace in our new place.

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It’s official!

We walked into our new apartment and it was even better than I remembered. We downsized with this apartment (from 2 bedroom town home to 1 bed/1 bath), but a few things made that decision SO worth it:

  1. Location – literally a 5 minutes walk from the Downtown Mall, .25 miles from my work, and 2 miles from UVA where Nate will work. Yay for much better commutes and super easy access to fun stuff!
  2. Hardwood floors, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances…oh, and CEILING FANS (seriously they are so underrated but such lifesavers in summertime). Having a nicer place made this feel like a major upgrade even if we downsized on space.
  3. Amenities – awesome pool, lounge areas, courtyard, game room, conference rooms, and *FREE SNACKS* (like freshly baked cookies) every day. Need I say more?

Without further ado, here is our apartment BEFORE we unloaded anything…

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Walking in the door – kitchen to the left, living room ahead.
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Kitchen is HUGE. Probably our favorite room and wouldn’t mind having a kitchen like this in our future home.

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Patio space off the living room and in front of the bedroom.
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Bedroom closet
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After getting photographic evidence that our apartment was at one point very clean and tidy, the manual labor began. With Tim, Don, and my parents, we were able to get unpacked in a little over 2 hours. By unpacked, I mean boxes in one room…not empty boxes. Because our apartment is on the first floor, we were able to lift a lot of stuff over the patio fence and just unload it that way. Huge time saver!

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About halfway done…

The weather could not have been more beautiful for our second moving day. We lucked out with sunshine and clear skies again. It rained the whole time we were here in March, so I appreciated the nice weather that much more this time around. We didn’t do much aside from get all the boxes inside and setup the bedroom furniture. My mom was awesome and made sure we had clean sheets on the bed and our shower set up so that we could, at the very least, take a shower and sleep that night. Lifesaver!

For dinner, we took everyone to Brazos for some much needed re-fueling after another long day. The tacos were just as good as we remembered them and it was great to finally sit down together after such a busy afternoon.

This Is My Yam and a fish taco for me. YUM.

After that, we went to check out the downtown mall. It was such a gorgeous evening and so nice to finally be there! Having family around us made it all feel more real.


Mom suggested stopping for ice cream cones at Chaps…we didn’t need much convincing before agreeing that was an excellent idea.

Cheers to summertime in Cville!

After the sweet ending to a good day, everyone went their separate ways for the night. Nate and I cleaned up, unpacked for another hour or two, and then slept like babies before getting up for brunch with everyone before they headed back to Indiana.

We decided to try The Nook downtown and got to sit outside. There wasn’t much of a crowd on a weekday morning so we didn’t have any trouble getting a table. Score!

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Everyone was feeling much more refreshed after a good night’s sleep…and knowing that for the first time in 2 days, they wouldn’t have to do any heavy lifting that day!


I tried the two-way sandwich which came with egg and cheese. Everyone seemed to really enjoy their meals and there was a wide variety of options. It was nice just to spend time together outside without having to coordinate any moving logistics for the first time in awhile.

A few final photo ops to capture time with family of course… don’t know what I’d do without them ❤

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After brunch was over, my parents headed back to southern Indiana and Don and Tim took the U-Haul back to Indy for us. Like I said, our family members were ROCKSTARS throughout this whole experience. We had such a great start to our lives in Cville thanks to being surrounded by loved ones. “Thank you” is an understatement.

Once they left, Nate and I hit the ground running with unpacking, exploring, and fun along the way. This concludes our Indy to Cville moving series, but stay tuned for our first adventures in our new city!

Indy to Cville: Part 1

10 hours of driving, 1 flat tire, 2 trucks, 1 U-Haul, and awesome family members = a successful move to Charlottesville! After 2.5 months of preparations, we are safely on the other side with all our stuff under one roof. Whether or not that stuff is still in boxes or not is another story 😉 For now, I wanted to get started recapping our story with Part 1 of the journey from Indy to Cville.

Our last few days in Indy were bittersweet. We both got to the point where we were just ready to GO, so that helped us say goodbye with smiles on our faces. We didn’t have many “lasts” left on our Indy bucket list, aside from enjoying some quality time & meals with close friends and family.

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The view from our back patio will be missed ❤

At long last, May 31 rolled around. We had everything packed and ready to go, so we were able to get a good night’s rest before the chaos began. The morning of our move, Nate got up early to go get the U-Haul and I got some pictures of one last sunrise in Indy.

It was really nice to have some quiet time before the day got going. I will always be a morning person for moments like this!

Not much later, family started arriving to help us load up our stuff. They were all ROCKSTARS. Nathan’s parents, Tim, and my parents all helped out. Seriously…we felt so supported and loved through the whole process having our people around us ❤ Everyone was so upbeat and eager to help with whatever we needed. I think they might be saints because I don’t know if I would’ve been nearly as nice as they all were if I were in their shoes 🙂

Not long after we started loading boxes, Don noticed a bolt (and thus a flat) in the U-Haul tire. Womp womp…Photo May 31, 9 33 54 AM

Luckily, we hadn’t loaded too much stuff yet so it wasn’t a total pain to unpack. My dad and Nate went to go swap out the U-Haul for a different one, and the rest of us worked on bringing boxes from upstairs to downstairs so we’d be ready to go once they got back. (I believe this is what made my legs sore the next day. It felt like I’d done squats and, newsflash, I don’t do squats on a regular basis. #legday)

When Nate and Dad showed up with a new U-Haul with Virginia Beach on the side, I decided it was a good sign and everything would be OK despite the hiccup in our plan 🙂

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After that, it was smooth (sometimes sweaty) sailing all morning. The morning was nice and cool (PERFECT moving weather), and even once the sun got higher in the sky we were able to find some shade. Some of us had it easier than others…

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Taking advantage of the one time I get to sit in a leather chair in the front yard with Mom!
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Hiding from the heavy lifting.

With everyone’s help, it went by so fast! “Many hands make light work” for sure.

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Me wondering when we got so much stuff and how it’s all going to fit…smiling away the stress!

We stopped for a Starbucks run mid-morning, Chick-Fil-A lunch break around 1, and some photo ops along the way. Otherwise it was go, go, go!

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Tim taking a much-deserved break!

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After lunch, my parents took off to head back home with the trailer (where we would join them for the night) and Don and Tim left to go to Cincy for the night while Jo, Nathan, and I did some cleaning around the apartment and showed it to the maintenance staff in hopes of getting our security deposit back (fingers crossed!). Zach also stopped by to say goodbye before we left. It was a lot of fun having some extra time with them!

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Saying goodbye to our home sweet home of almost 3 years…

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After all was said and done, Nathan and I left Indy around 3:30PM with no return trip on the books. It was SUCH a weird feeling to drive away knowing that the next time we come back things will be so different and we’ll be visiting vs. living there with a place of our own.

We loved our time in Indy and can’t imagine a better place for the first few years of marriage, but we were more than ready for a new adventure at this point. So, despite the weird feelings when we left, we never lost sight of our excitement through the whole experience. It finally felt real and I couldn’t wait to get on the road!

Nathan and I stayed with my parents in Georgetown for the night (our lease in Charlottesville didn’t start until June 1), so we were able to enjoy dinner on the deck – one of my FAVORITE things to do in summer. Mom was awesome and made us a homecooked meal of BBQ ribs, sweet potatoes, broccoli salad, and fresh bread. It felt like my birthday dinner, only a few weeks early…ha!

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We stayed up talking for awhile, had brookies (brownie + cookie) with ice cream for dessert, then hit the hay. It had been a long day and we knew the next one would be too, so we wanted to get as much rest as possible.

The next day began bright and early – actually not bright, because we left before sunrise – at 6AM. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our journey where we (spoiler alert) get to Cville, move in, and start exploring our new city!

What I Learned: May 2017

Wondering what “What I Learned” is all about? Check out my first post for details!

Here’s what I learned in May:

  1. Shipping “media mail” for USPS is super cheap. Nate sold some old textbooks and I took them to the post office to ship. He told me about how media mail (which textbooks qualify as) is subsidized by the government (did not confirm but sounds legit) and so we got them off our hands for a lot cheaper!
  2. How to make chicken parmesan casserole. Our new recipe for the month was simple (which was needed since it’s so busy here!) but delicious. It’s a great shortcut for traditional chicken parmesan because it’s relatively hands-off and can easily be frozen for future use. This made enough for leftovers too.
  3. What it feels like to have your flight surprisingly canceled. This was certainly a learning experience 😉 But I survived and it all ended up working out! The flight my sister and Jack and I were scheduled to go to Houston after my brother’s graduation in Nashvtille got canceled…and we found out when we got to the airport. It was definitely stressful but we figured it out, thanks to my dad too for having our back!
  4. Cedar hangers prevent moth damage to clothing. This was a tip from the Brooks Brothers’ consultant who fitted Nate for his suit that my parents got him for a graduation gift. Good to know and worth the investment!
  5. How to negotiate a job offer on the phone. Well this was certainly outside my comfort zone but I’m so glad I did it. I guess the big news is – I have a job waiting for me in Virginia now! But before I accepted, I called the company’s owner and successfully negotiated the terms in their initial offer. Going out of my comfort zone paid off…literally!
  6. You can request a black napkin at a restaurant instead of white. I saw this on a TV show where a woman requested a black napkin from the waiter so the white one wouldn’t leave any specks on her black dress. Apparently you can do that at restaurants with white cloth napkins and they keep black ones in the back. Who knew!
  7. New podcasts for this month: The Daily and TED Radio HourTED Radio Hour