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.

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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:

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

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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!

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*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!

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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.

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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!

Double Date Dinner at Late Harvest Kitchen

This week we were treated to one last Indy dinner with my mom and dad. They came up for the day on Tuesday and we had a lot of fun catching up! They brought more empty boxes for us to fill up and took home a few more things to store while we downsize our first year in Charlottesville. A little work, a little play, and some really good food made for a perfect day!

We decided to make a tradition of a double date dinner each May to celebrate our joint anniversaries. Last year we went to Varanese in Louisville, and the timing just worked out to do it again this year except in Indy this time! We made reservations at Late Harvest Kitchen, one of our favorites from our Christmas date this past year. We wanted to go back one more time before we move, and we knew my parents would love it too.

The weather was ideal on Tuesday evening, so we got to sit on the patio. I’d heard awesome things about their outdoor seating so it was fun getting to experience it! Seriously could not have asked for a better night to be out. We felt like we had our own private terrace!

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Like last time, we knew to ask for the bread basket and were treated to goodies from Amelia’s bakery once again. So good! We split these four ways so everyone got to try everything. We had Amelia’s bread at Bluebeard for our anniversary last year, so this is starting to be a theme for us 🙂

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Mom and I both started with salads, too.

For me…

SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD – SMOKED ALMONDS, SIEVED EGG, PARMESAN CHEESE, CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

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For mom…

KNIFE AND FORK SALAD – ROASTED PEARS, DANISH BLUE, BACON LARDONS, HEARTS OF PALM, HAYSTACKS BUTTERMILK-RANCH DRESSING

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The salads were both so good! Such fresh, local ingredients used in everything here and unique combinations. I love how they charred hearts of palm in mom’s salad and I also loved the sieved egg in my brussels sprouts salad.

The entrees were up next. Nate and I both got the same dish:

Halibut with cheddar cheese grits, hominy, andouille sausage, and aioli.

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This had a nice amount of spice and everything tasted so good together! Loved the contrast of texture in the hominy vs. grits, and the halibut was perfectly tender with just the right seasoning. We cleaned our plates!

Mom’s entree:

Roasted 1/2 chicken with fregula, tomatoes, and spinach.

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Luckily she shared! The chicken was so juicy and we loved the sauce/seasoning with it!

Finally, for my dad:

Rabbit biscuits and gravy with shiitake mushrooms and carrots.

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This is a mainstay on the menu (while everything else changes pretty regularly) so you know it’s gotta be good. We had this during our Christmas date and it did not disappoint! All of us also split a side of the roasted vegetables with garlic confit.

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Everything was so tasty! Our waiter was kind enough to take a photo of us at the end of the meal…perhaps that will be part of the tradition too!

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Can you tell the patio ambience and weather was incredibly perfect?!

Cheers to 33 years for my parents and 3 years for us, and yay for May anniversaries! This was a great last dinner together in the city. They’ll be back next week for the big move to Virginia. It was nice to have some downtime together beforehand to fuel up for the next adventure!

Dinner Recipe: Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Another simple dinner recipe coming your way! This was our new recipe for May, and I’m sure we’ll be making it again. This is a great recipe to make as a freezer meal for busier times in life (ahem…like now). But we enjoyed it fresh out of the oven!

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

(Recipe source)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. cooked chicken
  • 1 jar (28 oz.) marinara sauce
  • .5 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • Salt, pepper, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning (or your preferences!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Dice the chicken and mix with the marinara sauce.
  4. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.IMG_0754
  5. Mix the breadcrumbs and seasonings together before adding to the top.IMG_0755
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.IMG_0757.JPG

OR to make it a freezer meal, simply freeze before step 6 (baking it). Then, when you’re ready to eat it, let it thaw for a day in the fridge before baking.

We served ours with French bread and a simple salad. For leftovers, we are planning to make these into delicious (but messy) sandwiches on some thick slices of bread (possibly open-face style with some extra cheese on top). You could also make up some noodles or pasta to serve this over. Lots of options, and they’re all good! IMG_0758.JPG

This is an easy meal to make if you’re in the mood for Italian but want a shortcut. Let me know if you try it!

Dinner Recipe: Broccoli Chicken Biscuit Bake

After organizing some of the recipes from this blog, I was inspired to try a spin on some old favorites! What I came up with can best be described as a crossover between chicken divan and chicken pot pie spinoff. I basically grabbed whatever I felt like at the grocery store and made it work 🙂

 Broccoli Chicken Biscuit Bake

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked
  • 2 cans of Pillsbury biscuits
  • 10 oz broccoli
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a 13×9 basking dish.
  3. Dice the chicken and broccoli, add to the baking dish.
  4. Top with the two cans of soup and mix everything together.
  5. Chop the biscuits into quarters and layer them on top.Photo Apr 23, 5 39 29 PM
  6. Add shredded cheese as desired.Photo Apr 23, 5 40 22 PM
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes.img_0709-jpg.jpeg

I love recipes like this because it’s a one-dish meal. You get your veggies, protein, and carbs all in one go. This also makes great leftovers for easily reheated lunches. With warmer months upon us, I’m all about simplifying time in the kitchen, and this easy dish does the trick!

Weekend Eats: Double Date Nights and Oma’s 80th Birthday Party

This past weekend was full of 1) nonstop rain in Indy and b) good food, so I’m going to focus on the bright side with this blog and tell you all about the food 🙂 I’ll keep the words short and let the photos do most of the talking!

First up – Friday date night at Napolese on the northside to celebrate my last full day at work (I’ll be working part-time remotely through May until we move). It was our second time at Napolese but the first time at this location. It was even better than we remembered it and Nate even claimed he’d rather take Napolese to Cville than Mother Bear’s (!!!).

Their menu changes every season so we got to try some new combinations. I started with a salad of course. Their salads are always AMAZING and this one was no exception – the perfect mix/balance of all the flavors and very fresh, local ingredients. (Lots of ingredients hiding under the lettuce in this photo – love how they toss it all together for you!)

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Arugula, Strawberries, Shaved Fennel, Gorgonzola, Hazelnuts, White Balsamic Vinaigrette 

Next, we shared two pizzas: Hamaker’s Corner and Elliot’s Pie.

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Up close is Elliot’s PiePancetta, roasted new potatoes, gorgonzola

Hamaker’s Corner in the back: Pepperoni, Italian sausage, provolone, mushroom

All of it was absolutely delicious! #thatpepperonithough… We had a few slices each and then took the rest home for leftovers to enjoy again later. It is the date night that keeps on giving. Win win!

Saturday I was in Tullahoma for Oma’s 80th birthday party. It was so fun to be with everyone! They held it at a local Mexican restaurant so good food was involved in addition to lots of good laughs, catching up with family, and heartfelt moments.

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Mom and I representing the Hartog fam!

They ordered fajitas for everyone and Mom and I shared this amazing platter. Perfect fuel after a day on the road!

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Last but not least, Sunday ended with a celebratory meal for Nate after he finished his sub-I rotation. *praise hands*

He chose The Eagle downtown (which started in Cincy and just opened a spot in Indy last year – famous for their fried chicken), which I’d been to once before for work. It far surpassed my memory of it though…I think the company had something to with that 😉 The food is top notch and the price is very reasonable. Plus it’s a casual atmosphere so we didn’t feel too bad coming in a little damp from the continuous rain.

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Happy no-more-sub-I Nathan!

First: a beer at the bar while we waited for our table to be ready. And then, the main attraction(s)!

We each started with salads.

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Country Green Saladmustard greens, curly endive, frisee, cucumber, radish, candied pecans, mustard vinaigrette

The family-style menu meant picking sharable sides. Luckily we both have similar tastes and easily agreed on the 1/2 fried chicken with mac & cheese and biscuits.

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This plus their spicy hot honey = heaven

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Mac & Cheese: five cheeses & garlic breadcrumbs

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Homemade Biscuits with blackberry jam and honey butter

Okay seriously…best biscuits of my life (yes, even better than Punch Bowl Social).

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I told Nate I would rather have those biscuits than a cupcake. That’s when you know it’s serious. This was the perfect amount of food for the two of us and we polished off our plates. We both agreed that if the opportunity arises, we would love to come back here again before we move.

It was a nice way to end to a busy but fun (and obviously delicious) weekend!

Dinner Recipe & Snack Recipe: Salmon Patties and Oat Balls

The resolution to try one new recipe a month continues! This time we were overachievers and tried two new recipes. But you’ll have to let me know if the second one really counts once you see how easy it is 😉

We normally save a new recipe for a weekend night when we have more time and can cook together, but April has been a different story. Nate’s sub-I rotation and my traveling have meant we rarely get a full weekend day together. I realized in the middle of last week that if we didn’t get on it, we would miss our resolution for this month! So we made it happen this past Friday when I was able to work from home in the afternoon. Nate got there just in time to help me finish things off, too! It was a pleasant surprise 🙂

Resolutions are good for months like these because they remind me of my goals and help me stay on track. If it weren’t for this resolution, I’d tend to go on autopilot, make what we always have or go out to eat when we are both so busy. But I genuinely WANT to try new recipes and branch out in the kitchen, so having a goal out there helps me stay on track/work toward that goal little by little, no matter how busy life gets. Enough chitchat. Onto the food…

Both recipes this month come from immaeatthat.

Crisp Salmon Cakes

(Adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • ~.75 pounds salmon
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • 3 tbsp Caesar dressing
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Season salmon with salt and pepper, then bake for 10-15 minutes (until fully cooked) on a foil-lined baking sheet. Photo Apr 21, 5 35 00 PM
  3. Chop cooked salmon up and let it cool in the refrigerator. Photo Apr 21, 5 54 01 PM
  4. While salmon cools, saute the chopped asparagus in a skillet on the stove with some butter, salt, and pepper. Saute until it is soft.
  5. In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients and seasonings, plus the asparagus and cooled salmon. Photo Apr 21, 6 17 47 PM
  6. Pack mixture into patties.Photo Apr 21, 6 23 08 PM
  7. Crisp the patties in a pre-heated skillet on the stove for ~2 minutes each side (use cooking oil as needed).

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    This plate x2 salmon patties for dinner 🙂

We served ours with salad and Hawaiian rolls plus some of the leftover asparagus. It was really good! Next time, we will probably use a different vegetable than asparagus in these. It was so chunky it made it difficult for the patties to stay together. More breadcrumbs might help too. These would also be great crumbled over a salad or sandwiched between a bun for a recipes/leftover remix! I personally recommend Caesar dressing with either option, since it brings out the same flavors used in the patties’ seasoning.

For our snack recipe, we tried a spinoff of these oat balls. We always keep a stock of granola bars/Clif bars/protein bars in our pantry, but I know it’s more cost-effective ur own. Plus, these aren’t too sweet, so you can have them for breakfast, snacks, or dessert. I also like the versatility of this recipe and easy cleanup (one bowl – *praise hands*). It’s a great way to use whatever you have on hand for some portable, on-the-go fuel.

Peanut Butter Oat Balls

(Adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats
  • .5 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Dash of milk as needed
  • Desired mix-ins (we used raisins because we had some in our pantry, but you can do chopped candy like she does in the original, or nuts, seeds, coconut, chocolate chips, craisins…the possibilities are endless!)

Directions:

  1. Mix everything in one bowl.
  2. Form into balls/cookies.
  3. Store in fridge for up to one week.

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The longer these sit in the fridge, the firmer they get. But even if they are crumbly, you could use them to top yogurt, ice cream, or even plain milk for a denser bowl of cereal. Enjoy!

What are some new recipes you’ve tried lately and/or old standbys you go to during busy times?

Spring has me ready for some fresh new meals, and I already have my eye on a couple recipes for next month. May is probably (definitely) going to be even busier…graduation(s), our third anniversary, not to mention moving. Life is busy, but life is good 🙂

Psst – A little blog maintenance update. I’ve made all the recipes easier to find by adding a “recipes” category. You can search by category on the toolbar to the right! Also, you can now get to the blog more easily than ever. We have our own domain! This basically means it’s no longer .wordpress.com and is just plain rachandnateblog.com. Yay!

Easter Weekend 2017

It could not have been a more beautiful weekend for Easter. We’d heard rain was in the forecast, but all we saw was sunshine. It was just a breath of fresh air (literally) to be able to be out and about celebrating such a fun time of year.

We spent the weekend at my parents’ house near Louisville. The first thing I did was snag a spot on the deck outside and just soak up our backyard. It is always even prettier than I remember (and my memory is pretty rose-colored). It’s so peaceful back there. All you hear are birds singing and the creek running. I think I took all of this for granted growing up and now I miss it! It always makes it really special to share this place with Nathan now, too. ❤

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I planted this tree as a sapling in the 3rd grade. Look how big it is now!

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My brother was home for the weekend too which made it so fun! We all had dinner at the house (nothing like Mom’s homemade cooking…another thing I miss a lot now!) and I think my stomach hurt from laughing so hard by the end of the meal. Of course, it didn’t hurt too bad to go out for ice cream at Berry Twist later 😉

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This is our local ice cream spot that opens in the summertime. It was a staple of my childhood and I’m so glad we got to go back while I was home! I got my usual order of cookie dough (they use REAL cookie dough – such a dream) and Oreo on vanilla. Just as delicious as I remember and a sweet ending to a good day.

Easter morning brought more sunshine. We made sure to snag a few photos of us all dressed up!

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Mom put together an amazing breakfast spread, as always. How cute is her tablescape? I told her I felt like I was back at the Cake Bake Shop with all the cute details she added. I want to be like her when I grow up.

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Plus – Easter baskets! Our chocolate supply has been fully restocked with all our favorites. Nathan and I both got more than our fair share so I won’t have to steal any from him…yet 😉

For breakfast we had overnight French toast casserole (recipe from the Pioneer Woman, my FAVE), sausage/grits casserole (Nathan’s fave), berries, and bagels. It was such a nice way to start the day! After eating, we headed out to an 11am service at my parents’ church, and then Nate and I headed back to Indy from there.

The weekend went by so fast but that’s the sign of a good time. I’m glad we got the chance to be home together and to catch up with family. Hope everyone else had a sunny, happy Easter too!

Cake Bake Shop Take 2 with the Team

In true best-team-ever fashion, my coworkers took me out for an early farewell lunch this week. They scheduled it for a day everyone could come, including our tech rep who works remotely in Atlanta. I felt so special having everyone there at the same time!

They didn’t tell me where we were going beforehand but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had my hopes up for the Cake Bake Shop. This is known as *my* place on the team – totally girly but totally delicious with a focus on sweets 🙂 They took me there for my birthday lunch last summer and I hadn’t been back since. It was definitely on my Indy Bucket List for places to go before we move, and I had so much fun going with everyone else!

They rented out a private room for us which was so beautiful and cozy for a leisurely lunch together.

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While Cake Bake is most famous for their desserts, I honestly get more excited about the quiche. There’s nothing like it anywhere else! So I have to order it every time at Cake Bake, and I fall in love all over again no matter what kind it is. Warning: if you eat this quiche, it will ruin all other quiche for you forever.

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The quiche of the day when we went was broccoli and shallot and I ate every last bite. The crust is buttery, the eggs literally melt in your mouth…I am drooling as I type this. The waiter told us last time that they bake it for 4 hours!

Of course we each got a slice of cake – or more accurately, a wedge of cake – afterward. Some take home boxes were needed but we could fit in a few bites at least! I finally got to try their Cookie Dough Cake, which is seasonal so they haven’t had it before when I’ve gone. As a cookie dough fanatic this was sheer perfection. The cookie dough and fudge layer are what my dreams are made of, and the chocolate chip cookie as a garnish? You’ve gotta be kidding me – so cute and a tasty touch.

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As much as I love the food and atmosphere down to every last detail of the Cake Bake Shop, the company is what made this lunch truly special for me. They made sure I know I’ll be missed and definitely don’t make it easy to move away! I’m lucky because Cake Bake ships, so I know I can still get my cake fix 😉 I just need to figure out a way to get all my coworkers out to VA too…

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This is one sweet memory I’ll be happy to take with me when we go! And I’m glad I have a few more weeks left with these guys still to soak it up.

A Weekend at Home: Dinner, Desk Inspiration, and a Movie

It was a fun weekend back home! I had plans to visit my 4th grade teacher (she and I see each other ~6 months or so and we definitely wanted to squeeze in one more visit before we move) at her house. She put together a wonderful evening for me, my parents, her husband, her daughter, and her son-in-law. Nathan unfortunately couldn’t join because of his work schedule, and everyone missed him!

First of all, I got the BEST inspiration for our new apartment at her house. She has such a great eye for decorating, and this desk in particular caught my eye. Totally going to be on the lookout for something like it!

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The food was absolutely delicious. Everything was homemade and from scratch, right down to the salad dressing. She had baked brie with fig and walnuts to start (I was too busy chatting to snap a pic of it!), then pear and gorgonzola salad, asparagus, salmon, risotto, and fresh baked bread. Drool…

My plate, as presented by our hostess. Not only does she know how to cook, but she knows how to make it all look so pretty!

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After dinner, we had our dessert outside by a fire.

IMG_0595 It was the perfect way to soak up the spring weather! We didn’t end up leaving until 11pm. Time flies when you’re having fun! My teacher and her family have always been so special to me, and I’m grateful for the time we had together before we move so far away. I am sure we will keep in touch just like we always have, though 🙂 Thank goodness for email, letters, and trips back home!

The next day, Mom fixed an amazing brunch (as always) at home before taking me to see Beauty and the Beast. Finally!! I’d heard such good things about the movie and it did NOT disappoint. I laughed out loud, got chills, nearly cried…and am still singing the songs 🙂 It was so fun to see it with Mom. Totally worth the wait!

After the movie I headed back to Indy for another week of work, but I’ll be back home in no time for Easter this weekend! Nathan and I will be with my side this year for the first time since we started dating, and Ted will join too. I can’t believe it’s been that long since we’ve been together for the holiday, and I can’t wait!

PS- I found these sundials at home that my maternal grandpa made based on the longitude and latitude of my parents’ house…like he MADE them, by hand. So genius! I thought that was just the coolest thing, and for anyone who has listened to S-Town, you know why 🙂 IMG_0589

Beachys’ Debut in Charlottesville

We have officially been to Charlottesville together! We took off Thursday and Friday to make a long weekend of our apartment hunting trip, which marked my first time in the state of Virginia and what will soon be our new home, Charlottesville. I haven’t heard anything but good things about the town, and it was even better than I imagined!

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The drive itself was gorgeous once we got into Virginia – mountains and farmland as far as I could see. Nathan spoiled me by driving so I could just soak up the views.

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Our first night in Charlottesville, we met a current neuro resident and his wife for dinner at Brazos Tacos. We enjoyed walking around the IX Art Park beforehand and captured some photos. The food was delicious and the company was even better. It was a great way to kick off the trip!

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Friday was all business. We had 8 scheduled apartment viewings and a couple more on our list for drop-in visits. It was a busy day but honestly the perfect way to see more of the city and get our bearings. It is an insanely beautiful area and I can’t believe we actually get to live there!

There were a few promising apartments, but we decided to sleep on the decision before committing to anywhere in particular. We ended the day with a dinner date at Monsoon Siam, which had been recommended by several people. It reminded us a lot of our favorite Thai place in Bloomington, so we felt right at home 🙂

The food was perfect comfort food after a busy and rainy day. We shared the fresh rolls with asparagus and peanut dipping sauce to start, I got Pad See Eaw with chicken, and Nathan ordered Ka Pow fried rice with beef. Hit the spot! We’ll definitely be back.

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The next morning, we packed up and got on the road, calling a few apartments along the way and mulling over our decision. We were back and forth between being a 10-minute drive from downtown with 2 bedrooms vs. being in the heart of downtown with 1 bedroom. Ultimately we settled on the smaller place in the heart of the city. We think this will be the perfect way to start our lives in Charlottesville while getting to know the city as much as we can. Nathan will be really busy his first year of residency, so the shorter commute and walkability to the downtown mall will be awesome. City living will be different for us, but so is moving anywhere outside of Indiana, so we’re up for the change!

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To recap: in 3 days time, we found a taco place, Thai place, place to live, had our first date, and met our first friends in Charlottesville. I’d say it was a successful trip, and I can’t wait to go back for good in a couple months! In the meantime, I’ll be finishing up at work, Nathan will complete a busy sub-I rotation this month, and we’ll be packing up our stuff and getting rid of a lot of it to make room in the new apartment. I’m excited to purge and simplify. Moving gives us a fresh start in many ways!

I can’t wait to see what life is like once we get settled in Charlottesville. If it’s anything like this past weekend, I have a feeling it will be the time of our lives. Stay tuned for many more adventures to come!