Sunday, August 29, 2010

Liz + Jeff 8.28.10


Beautiful setting for a wedding: Raffaldini Vineyards


Jamie + Anne waiting for the ceremony to start


The gorgeous bride being escorted by her father.


The groom serenading his bride (and yes, those are bubbles…)

Happy Wedding, Happy Life!  Congratulations Liz + Jeff. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It Doesn’t Matter

I made a big decision this week. The kind of decision where right/wrong aren’t crystal clear, and right before you fall asleep at night you think you know what you're going to do and then you wake up the next morning and the temporary respite of resolution has disappeared again.

I was offered a job on Tuesday. I began my job search two months ago, after receiving confirmation at my annual review that, despite the fact that everyone was really happy with me, the funding for my grant-based job was ending in June and there was nothing in the pipeline that matched my skill set: weight loss expert without an RD, health interventionist not interested in teaching exercise. I had created a niche for myself in my current position that although I seem to be fairly good at, doesn't really exist in other grants. Small problem.

So I started tentatively looking. My expectation was that finding a job could be a half-year project, or more. I applied to anything that seemed remotely appropriate, hoping that interviews would at least be good practice. I heard nothing. Not even rejections.

In early August, I found a job that I loved the sound of and applied, expecting the usual - nothing. Two days later I got a phone call. A week later, an interview. Another week later, an offer.

It all happened so quickly, I barely had time to process it. All throughout my job search, I thought of course, of course, if I find another job, I'll leave. I mean, HELLO, I don't have a job in 8 months. (Although I did lobby hard to try and convince Matt that Buddy could really benefit from me becoming his Stay at Home Mommy. I'll just pretend he was so enthralled with his PTI episode that he didn't hear me ask. All thirty times.)

All through the offer process, I thought I would accept.

And then, an agreement was made and it was time to decide. I started freaking out.

"Can I really leave my participants?" "Shouldn't I finish out the study?" "I really like my co-workers, and I have loads of vacation days saved up, and I can do my job with my eyes closed... what if I hate my new coworkers? and I can't go on vacation? And learning a new job is HARD?" My stomach churned while I tried to decide what to do. I was sitting in my car outside my office, and I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed that God would tell me what the right answer was.


So I called Matt, my Mom, my Dad, Jamie, Heather. Anyone who would listen to me sort of the reasons to stay or go.

I realized that most of my reasons for saying no were lodged in fear: fear that my current employers would think poorly of me for leaving, fear that I wouldn't like or be as successful at the new job, or like my coworkers, or that I wouldn't be able to find anything good on XM radio for the extra 10 minutes in the car both ways.

Fear, as it turns out, is a pretty crappy excuse to avoid doing things. So, I decided to go for it. I punched the return call button on my phone, and said yes. I hung up, and called back Matt, my Mom, my Dad, Jamie and Heather. (Thanks yall.)

I didn't really feel the excitement of my decision until after I had gotten through the hard task of telling my 3 bosses and my 4 co-workers. Their reactions were mixed, but those who were most impacted by my decision to leave were supportive, which confirmed my decision.

By Friday, it was official. Everyone at work knew, and preparations were underway for my departure. It hit me as I was erasing my name for the September schedule that this was real: I was leaving. I was leaving the study that I had created out of my clueless, naive, hoping for the best little head and heart 4 years ago. Panic and guilt started to set in. Did I make the right decision? Too late now, I told myself. Move forward.

That night, we all gathered at Zac and Jamie's to celebrate two birthdays and, as Jamie's email lovingly put it, "my awesomeness." Happy hour turned into five hours as a group of amazing people sat around a patio table taking slices of Burke St Pizza and pouring glasses of Cook's champagne, laughter and conversation accentuated by the flickering lights of candles in tin lanterns.

I was leaning back in my chair looking around at this group with such contentment when I heard with absolute clarity the answer to my prayer that I had spoken 3 days prior.

"It doesn't matter."

When truth hits you, you know it. I knew it then: there had been no right or wrong choice to be made. Where you spend 40 (plus) hours a week is important, and being happy there is a big slice of life. But it’s just that: a slice of life. Making a living is simply so much more than just where the paycheck comes from.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


All day long as I went through my Sunday routine - picking up the house, folding laundry, planning next week's meals - I kept holding the “carrot” of how delightful going to be early would be in my state of total exhaustion.  (Oh, you didn't know you were reading the lamest blog on the block?  Welcome.  I like sewing, having long conversations with my dog and going to bed early.)  We had SUCH a fun weekend... and of course, are now paying for it now with the kind of tired that makes Monday require a venti.

Matt even had to get up and go to work this morning, poor soul.  When he called on his way home, I lectured him "don't you fall asleep on the couch after work or you won't be able to get to bed at a regular time tonight!" 

Fast forward to 6 pm.  Me, face down on the bed, out.  Oops.

Matt woke me up at 8:30, and now here it is 10 and I am WEEEE!  Wide awake.  At least I can catch up on our weekend without having to attempt to recall the events two weeks later.

Friday night we hosted Matt's sister and her boyfriend, who drove up from Huntersville to stay with us.  It was our first time meeting the boyfriend, and I don't think we scared him off.  I started preparing for dinner around 3pm, and right before our guest showed up, I stopped to assess the damage: I'm pretty certain I dirtied each and every dish in my kitchen.  Amazingly enough, I had just enough time to wash up the dishes, wash up myself and pour a glass of wine before the doorbell rang! 

My menu: artichoke dip for an appetizer.  Asparagus with proscuitto, panzanella, green salad with roasted almonds and homemade balsamic dressing and slow-cooked ribs.  Dessert was lemon tarts.  Those are pretty much all my go-to recipes… so no one can ever come to my house to eat more than once.

IMG_5674Oh look… food pictures instead of people.  Per usual. 

IMG_5671 Found these lights at Target and am in l-u-v.  Hubby strung them up around our patio umbrella. 

After dinner, we got into some games - first Wits and Wagers, then Catchphrase, then Guitar Hero.  Around the time when exhaustion and the wine were forcing me to shut one eye to better see the notes on Guitar Hero, we called it quits.

Saturday morning, Matt whipped up breakfast - his specialty in the kitchen.  Sausage, biscuits and dirty eggs.  That man can make a mean brunch.

No sooner had Micah and Derek gotten on the road, did we start getting ready for weekend event #2.  I went for a quick run to try and wake up for the next round of fun, and Matt took a quick nap.  Then we loaded up a cooler and headed over to our friend's Kate and Charlie (the newlyweds, two post back!) who we were joining for the Zac Brown Band concert in Charlotte.

IMG_5680 Kate + I @ Zac Brown Band

We got down a few hours early for tailgating.  The smell of hot dogs and the sight of people playing cornhole and the joy of waiting in line at the porta-johns make fall and regular tailgating feel like it’s right around the corner!  The lawn was PACKED!  The band played a number of their new songs first (from an album that isn't out) which made a few people kind of twitchy (me) but finally they got into all their jams and it was like a big lawn party of dancing happy beach-loving people. 

They ended on a mash-up of Free and Into the Mystic, which I adored.  Free is my favorite song by them, and Into the Mystic has always been a song I loved.  (Little known fact: it is one of the most common songs chosen by doctors to operate to.  You’re welcome for enlightening you with that piece of knowledge.)

(Go ahead, take a listen.  It’s lovely.)

It was late when we got back - although I'm not sure how late because I fell asleep in the car.  Sorry, Matt!  We both crashed hard, and it was not a happy moment when Matt's alarm clock went off at 6 am on Sunday!  (I will admit it was 2 hours later that I finally graced the world with my presence.) 

We in this household are firm believers in the “work hard, play hard” mantra.  We especially like the latter part.  As I write this (at 10 pm on a Sunday night), I can hear my hubby on the phone with his best friend from college planning a visit for a weekend in the fall.  As I try to figure out which weekend he’s talking about, I realize with a start that we’ve either planned or talked about something for just about every weekend he’s not working between now and…. December.  These are really our “carrots”- the reward of time spent with good friends, making memories, laughing hard, eating good – that gets you through the “have to do’s” of life.  Even if it makes procuring a large Diet Coke and taking a mid-day nap on Sunday become a “have to do”… it’s worth it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The One That Got Away

Doesn’t everyone have this story? The story about the one that got away? The one that you’ll always wonder what if… ? The person who, if you had ended up with, your life would be a totally different story from what it is now. The game changer.


When I was 20, I met a guy and we started dating. Two months after we had begun our relationship, I can remember sitting on my front porch, talking on the phone with my mom and telling her that I had met the guy I thought I could marry. I asked her if that was crazy – I was only 20, after all. My mom, who had met my dad when she was 20 and married him a few years later, assured me that it was not at all crazy and I should expect an engagement ring in a few months.

Okay, she didn’t exactly say that last part… but I may have extrapolated it from the conversation.

I fell hard for this guy. We were a good match on so many levels, and I was certain that we would be together for a long time. One warm April day, 8 months after we had started dating, he broke up with me. I was heartbroken. I hadn’t seen it coming, and in fact, I think I even tried to talk him out of it.

I spent the summer in Durham, working at internship and channeling my sadness and heartbreak and anger at him into the training I was doing for a triathlon. At the time, I was furious that he ended it so definitively (no "on a break" here). But later, after the sadness subsided, I was thankful for how clean our break-up was and the lack of any bitterness or head games that I would see be the calling card of many of my friends’ long-suffering break-ups.

Life went on. I went to Spain. He immersed himself in preparing for post-graduate work. We both moved on, fell in love with other people, had life experiences that shaped and molded us into new people.


One night in the middle of Spring semester, I walked in the door from a fun night with girlfriends out at our usual location, Burke St. We spilled back into our apartment, giggling and rehashing the night. I walked into my room, and out of habit, checked my away messages.

“ANNA! Anna! Anna, get in here!” I screamed to my roommate.

She came rushing in, looking slightly panicked.

“Guess who just IMed me?” I pointed excitedly to the screen.

She looked closely. “No way. When was the last time you talked to him?”

I shrugged my shoulders. Since my return from abroad, we had only run into each once on our tiny campus and it had been pleasant but uneventful. A chance encounter of two acquaintances. Other than that, we hadn’t talked into two years.

I read the IM again. “I saw you at the bar tonight. You looked cute. Thought you should know!” The message ended with the big dorky AOL smiley face. I went to sleep with that ear-to-ear grin on my face. It had been a hard year, and the surprise IM was a bright spot in a stressful spring semester.

Fortunately, the story doesn't end there. The message left to more conversations over instant messenger, tenuous and guarded at first, then quickly progressing to the rapport we had struck up so easily years before. The semester ended, graduation day came and went, and I was in U-haul van headed for NY. Our IM conversations turned to hour long phone calls which, over the course of the next year, led to visits which led to “will you be my girlfriend?” which led to moving to NC which led, finally, gratefully, and wonderfully to “Will you be my wife?”

And suddenly, the one that got away was the one who found me again after all these years. The one that changed it all? The one I would have always wondered how it would have turned out?

Was the one I ended up after all. Lucky me.

Lucky us.

wedding day

Happy Three Years, Husband. I adore you. Here’s to changing the game.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy Wife, Happy Life

Happy Wedding Day, Kate + Charlie!


I adore this couple and I couldn’t be more honored to have been there on the day when they start their journey together as husband and wife.  They have such a cute “how we met” story, too.  Charlie is the best friend of Kate’s brother-in-law, Locke. So Kate and Charlie met at Anne and Locke’s wedding and have been dating ever since.  We became friends with Anne and Locke when they returned here for residency (they were both Wake undergrads, and Anne was a sorority sister… so now they are back on home turf in Winston-Salem) and met K+C through them.  Their wedding was held in Charlottesville, which happens to be my 2nd favorite city in the South.  (After Winston, of course.)  It was beautiful, fun and joyous – exactly as the start to a happy life together should be.  Congratulations, ya’ll!


Me + My Better Half


Girlfriends Jamie and Anne (sister of the bride, too)


Anne and Locke

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Stitch In Time

When my mom was cleaning out my grandparent’s house, she came across a huge stash of doilies that were made (crocheted?) by her grandma, or my great-grandma.  She brought them back to her house, and while I was home for my HS reunion, I went digging through the box.  I came across these two, which were sewn on to powder puffs.  I immediately had an idea what to do with them, and asked her if I could have them.


I snipped them free from the powder puffs, and started sewing them to a t-shirt.  It took a little longer than I thought it would, because I wanted to make sure they were secure but the stitches were hidden so I did lots and lots of tiny stitches.  Hello, neck cramp.


I was pleased with the end results.  It’s just a little detail on the shirt, but I love it.  I love imagining my great-grandma working on these, and never thinking that one day they’d up in her great-grandchild’s hand. 


(Excuse the cheesy self-portraits.  It’s impossible to do these without feeling totally awkward.)

Then, since I was on a sewing roll, I tackled another project.  Awhile back, I had chopped up t-shirts that Matt and I had worn for a softball team, and turned it into this shirt.  I never liked the way it still looked like a t-shirt though, and rarely wore it. 

Chop, chop, stitch, stitch.  Voila, sleeveless shirt.  I had a little trouble with the seams on the arms but it turned out okay.  I like it much better than way.


Self-timer pics leave plenty of room for creative expression.



I’d say I need to get a hobby, but clearly I’ve got that part of life covered.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Somethings

It’s August! The hottest month of the year! Which is a little unnerving, considering June and July averaged in the 100’s. Hoo-boy.

But there’s hope. The averages through this week are in the high 80s. Am I talking about the weather on my blog? Yessir I think I am. It’s all anyone in the South can talk about. This is the hottest summer I can remember in the ten years I’ve been in Winston. I usually gauge this by how nauseous I feel when running at 7 am. I am so thankful for the wonderful folks in Buena Vista who keep sprinklers on automatic timers.

Today was a nice break though – Lauren and I went running around 8 am, and it was only 70 and not nearly as humid as it has been. We ran 4.5 and it was the most comfortable, easy run we’ve had since probably April. To contrast, my long run on Thursday was probably one of the top five worst runs I can remember. I didn’t eat enough dinner on Wednesday night, it was super muggy and I had poured all my water on my head too early and had none left to drink. I felt okay for the first five miles, but the last two were slap miserable.

This is the actual conversation I had with myself the last mile:

I need to stop. I’m going to pass out.

You’re not going to pass out. Keep going.

No really, I am going to pass out. I should probably at least try to make a few more yards, where there’s grass alongside the road instead of this parking lot.

Shut up.

I wonder if I pass out if one of these cars would stop and help me. I wonder if I’d be able to fall slowly enough to not hit my head on the sidewalk.

Seriously? You’re being ridiculous.


Look, just keep moving. One of two things will happen: you will either pass out or you won’t, and if you don’t, then you will finish this run. Just. Keep. Moving.

So. Who wants to pick up running as their new hobby?

Fortunately, yesterday’s run was one of those trot along, admire the scenery, feel the cool breeze and sigh happily to yourself “I loooove running” type runs that erase all previous memories of bad runs like Thursday out of your mind. At least long enough to convince you to keep going for another week.

On my way home from dropping off Lauren, I went and picked up a gas station coffee (my fave) and Sunday’s paper. After a shower, I sat on the couch for almost an hour and perused the Sunday inserts and clipped coupons. Target ads have such a relaxing effect on me.

Then I set about trying to be a Pioneer Woman (no, not THE pioneer woman, just A pioneer woman) and make homemade bread. I’ve been on a baking kick, which is unusual for me. I much prefer cooking to baking – less precision required and generally healthier. But in the last two weeks, I made blueberry scones, blueberry muffins and a peach-blueberry galette. That might possibly be more baking than I’ve done in our entire marriage. So I decided I could make bread.

It seemed pretty straight forward, and I thought I followed the recipe to a T. I measured (a big deal for me), I stirred, I kneaded. I covered with plastic wrap and put it in the warmest part of our house to rise.


Noodle dog will keep your bread warm.

(Just kidding. I put it in the laundry room.)

But after I baked it, they were like rocks. Not inedible – I could cut into them. But dense. From a quick Google search, it sounds like I didn’t knead them long enough. I read one blog where she said she sets a timer for 8 minutes to knead. Ha. I definitely did not do that.


I’m embarrassed to even post that picture.

I sadly threw the bread out, after eating a slice and realizing I couldn’t subject anyone else to it. We were having our friends Zac and Jamie over for dinner, so I set about tending to the rest of the sans-bread meal. I made a paste out of onions, garlic, oil, jalapeno and ginger to cover a pork tenderloin and cooked some Trader Joe veggies, sweet potato fries and a salad. Dessert was my favorite – homemade whip cream (I could eat this by the spoonful. And by could, I mean do) with blueberries and mini angel food cakes.


It was so nice to finally be able to sit outside. We bought patio furniture back in May, and it’s been nearly too scorching to sit out there and enjoy it! I think we’ve eaten out there just a handful of times since we bought it. We sat outside long past the sun setting and caught up for hours with our longest-in-Winston friends. We used to be almost-next door neighbors for nearly two years, and sharing dinners with each other was probably a weekly thing. Good friends are what makes turns a city into a hometown, you know?

I’m looking forward to August. We have our wedding anniversary, as well as some weekend plans to look forward too. It’s still summer, but you can feel things starting to slow down from the frenetic “squeeze everything into summer vacay” pace of July. And maybe, just maybe, it won’t be 100 degrees every day.