Saturday, June 8, 2013

The last supper

It makes sense that our last dinner at 506 Hibriten Avenue was on Mother's Day. For years we have gathered here to celebrate holidays, special days, and every days. The same familiar faces have graced the doors for as long as I can remember, and laughter is background noise in most conversations. Not just any laughter: A deep, loud, uninhibited, tears streaming down your face kind of laughter. The kind that makes you glad you're alive. The comfortable openness that resonates from the Hutchen's house is the foundation of happy memories for many people young and old. Throughout the years we have grown together in some ways and apart in others, but lessons learned in this house have taught me to be a better friend, a better neighbor, and a better mother.

1. Regardless of your thoughts on graffiti, let your children (and their friends) write on the walls. I don't care if it's in an unfinished attic, designate a place where they can express themselves. They will write about BFFs, biggest loves, strongest enemies, vulgar jokes, and funny memories. One day this wall will be an invaluable masterpiece that represents happy days and happy people.
2. Even the greenest thumb with the most astute taste in landscaping can allow room in their yard for a tree house. When that tree house is built, take a picture. One day that fortress will simply be a board in a tree, but the former architects will smile upon its mention.
3. Start traditions. Bake cookies at Christmas and spread them across the entire kitchen table. These cookies should be intricately decorated with colored sugar crystals and tasty icing. You may insist that they are reserved for neighborhood Christmas gifts, but look the other way while the little people who fill your house steal them in passing. Cookies obtained through sneaky measures taste a hundred times better.
4. Encourage your children to have friends of the opposite sex. Learning to love deeply without being in love is an important lesson. There may well be a time when this person is the greatest cure for a dark winter or a broken heart.
5. Walk the beautiful balance between a saver and a hoarder. Notes that seem pretty funny at the time will likely make you pee your pants 13 years later. This extends beyond notes and includes top secret spy notebooks.
6. Make an effort. Celebrating the every days does not happen unless someone initiates. No one is unique in a Busy schedule or a crowded day, but life long friendships should not be neglected.
7. Show others that you care. Fill your refrigerator with pictures of family and friends when they make the news paper, a news letter, or iphone photo library. There's nothing like seeing your picture on another persons fridge to make you feel like a family member.
8- There's nothing wrong with a bowl cut and Beauty and the Beast light up shoes. Let your kids chase their own unique personality.

Fashion has always been a priority.
Christmas 2012

There are new families on our streets now. Young, fresh families with children the same ages that we were when we moved into this neighborhood. If they're really lucky, these neighbors will become the friends that they one day call family. To the new residents of 506 Hibriten Avenue: I hope your memories are half as sweet.

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

pining for a paddleboard

I really want this...

last summer, while interning in california, I fell in love with paddleboard yoga. I'm terrible at yoga (remember touching my toes is an accomplishment), and never do it, but it's SO much more fun on a paddleboard. And surprisingly very relaxing.

I'm envisioning catching the sunrise over this view...

I'm not even positive that's the direction where the sun comes up since I prefer sunsets and evening hours, but the prospect of beginning a day with yoga on the water before all the boats get out there might just get me up to see it.

It would require a whole lot of paddling to get to here, so an all around amazing workout. Now I've just got to justify a paycheck for a paddleboard...why must grown up toys be so dang pricey?!

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Friday, May 24, 2013

April Showers

Lets pretend that we're not already closing in on June while I recap an afternoon back in April that I got to spend with some of my favorite ladies showering the soon-to-be Mrs. Wente. She's getting married in early July and I am SO excited. She is something extra special - and I think she's found a perfect match in her future hubby, Chris.

I dug up this picture from the first time I ever met the handsome groom - at my birthday bash in January 2011.
The guest of honor and hosts - Me, Meg, Lindsey & Layne
MEGAN headed up the event, with help from her sweet momma, and they did an amazing job of personalizing it for the bride-to-be and incorporating her fun flavor and style. Layne and I pitched in with some small touches here and there, and it all came together as one happy celebration. We did heavy hors d'oeuvres at Tyler's Taproom in Raleigh, and brought in desserts. Lindsey's love for chocolate was a constant throughout, and Meg sorted through pounds of it to create a colorful candy bar tailored to that. Layne made some sinfully good Reese's cupcakes and we all got hopped up on sugar and love.

I snagged ideas from two of the blogs that I like to follow to make guest favors and a game. While Meg and I were discussing shower games that weren't too cheesy, I remembered reading Sierra's POST on her Wedding Word Scramble. I love that it can also serve as table decor:

We came up with words that were relevant to Chris and Lindsey in some way - from the places they went on their first date and where they got engaged, to characteristics about them (i.e. beach bodies) and their jobs (i.e. busy season). And then put it together just as Sierra outlined - printing two to a page on card stock. This was a fun way to kick off the afternoon, and the best part was watching Lindsey try to look at answers from people sitting around her after she realized she was the last one to figure it out :)

For small favors, I made THESE rosemary walnut and raisin crackers by Christina, stuffed them in mini Chinese takeout boxes from Michaels, created labels with the source of the recipe on one side and a quote on the other, and then tied the labels on with twine. HERE is a published PDF of the labels that I used.

Using the same card stock that I used for the labels, I cut out cupcake toppers to tie the color scheme together. I found toothpicks with small hearts on top of them, which worked perfectly for gluing the toppers on.

Over dessert, we went around the table asking the bride-to-be questions that Megan had handed out. Meg had already gotten Chris's answers to the same questions - and they all aligned so perfectly with Lindsey's. He gave elaborate, well-thought out, and sincere answers that showed how much fun they have together and how their various quirks just make them fall even more in love with each other everyday. It was the best.

I'm so pumped to be part of their special day in July!

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Today We Wear Red

This whirlwind semester is coming to an end (yes- I still measure my life in semesters), and while I am incredibly excited about another summer vacation, there is something even more exciting to celebrate. On Saturday, we will leave our Tar Heel Blues in the closet and spend a day at the brick yard to support our little brother as he graduates from NCSU.

Oh, the Places You'll Go. I read this book to our 4th grade students on Read Across America Day. They were likely more interested in the fact that my presence meant less time to do math, but I was interested in the contents of the book from a whole new perspective. As I read this book to the class, I found myself nodding and thinking and dreaming and relating. It turns out that Dr. Seuss was not simply writing words because they rhyme. The things that I would like to share with my brilliant, hilarious, free thinking little brother are accurately said in the words of Dr. Seuss:

You'll look up and down streets. Look'em over with care. 
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
You're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course, you'll head straight out of town.
It's opener there in the wide open air.

"Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest."

Except when you don't. Because, sometimes, you won't. 
I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a lurch.
You'll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then, you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

BUT... "Will you Succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!"

So if along the way, you happen to need us.... there's always another ski trip.

Cheers to you, Little Brother! I am so glad that I asked God (or maybe it was Santa?) for you so many years ago. Wherever you go, we know it will rock. And most of all, we hope you find what you're looking for.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

An update on cleaner eating

If you've followed along, then you already know that my roomies and I have been trying to cut back on eating processed foods and focus more on living an all around healthier lifestyle. We started this about a week after Easter and planned to be strict about eating solely 'real foods' for 3 weeks. Our three weeks were up on April 28th, and while I've felt slightly less obligation to adhere to the guidelines so strictly since our little challenge ended, it looks like this household is sticking with the healthier eating habits. Obviously, that means we're happy with the results we've seen and haven't been starving or too inconvenienced, so I'll share what we've been up to.

Honestly, I hate to even show food photography because the phone pics are just not that impressive. And the pictures on food blogs are way more pleasing to look at...but I want you to fully understand the good eats we've been enjoying over here, and I'll (hopefully) one day provide the links and recipes so that you, too, can enjoy them :)

portabella mushroom & cauliflower crust pizzas

Salmon over a spinach salad, fruit with steel cut oats, and roasted veggies

favorite snack. 

farm fresh eggs

whole wheat waffles with homemade berry and banana sauce, veggie and cheese omelet, and fresh squeezed orange juice

Ahi Tuna with sesame seeds and a cilantro, honey, and soy sauce marinade; served on homemade corn tortillas with guacamole, roasted veggies and a summer salad

full fridge

It definitely helps to have roommates who are joining you if you plan to change up the way you eat...and it's even more helpful if your mom is your roommate and is a great cook.

For the most part, we used Lisa Leake's rules from 100 Days of Real Food, but there were some things I knowingly cheated on, like chocolate chips, which I put in practically every "healthy" dessert I made because raisins just don't have the same effect. And I made a lot of healthy desserts. Also milk...we drank regular old skim milk and almond milk. These are obviously processed but no one here was wild about the idea of whipping up almond milk from scratch. Maybe some other time. The same goes for hummus. We didn't make our own, and there is citric acid, natural flavors and potassium sorbate in the Sabra hummus that we ate. Lisa says "If it’s not an ingredient you keep in your pantry or would cook with at home then it’s best to avoid it" and I dont have those handy. But I didn't have tahini or a ton of chick peas either so I just went with the store bought stuff. There were also a ton of special occasions over the course of our 3 weeks, including a bridal shower with a candy bar, a business school Prom with heavy hors d'oeuvres, two engagement parties full of fried goodies and sweet treats, and various other opportunities filled with tempting food selections...I was definitely more mindful of what I was eating, but didn't always adhere to the rules.

chocolate quinoa cookies and no bake energy bites have been filling in for candy

Rob's b-school prom. I'm getting good at bathroom selfies. I don't think I should be proud of that.

The candy bar at Lindsey's bridal shower, which I'll be writing more about shortly :)

We all had different goals that we were trying to accomplish over the three weeks. These were mine:

  1. Get some muscle tone and definition
  2. Stretch to increase flexibility
  3. Improve my complexion
  4. Do 2 pull ups from the ground

Obviously, achieving these goals would require more than just eating fresh foods. I also had intentions of changing up my workout routine, but this didn't really happen. I still primarily just ran, BUT, Sally and I were much more diligent about making sure that we worked one in most nights (Plus our runs all involved pushing this beast which we've determined adds an extra 90 pounds or so with her little chunkers on board), and we occasionally added an extra something in there...  
Here's my favorite: Brazilian Butt Workout <-- we have only been doing 2 rounds, but we're going for 3 this week. The first time we did it we could hardly walk for 3 days.
Another good one: Feisty Fifty
I've been doing a lot of push ups as well. At work I have some kids with goals to be able to do pushups, and lots of my little patients could benefit from upper extremity strengthening or just the proprioceptive input they get from doing push ups, so I've been putting a few of them through boot camp so that I can get a little workout in. No shame.
I flexed for Rob and let him judge my progress...Based on his reaction we'll just say I'm still working towards number 1. 
Leighton and Lewis have been troopers

one of the more ambitious runs I've done lately - without the BOB

I also did a lot more stretching before and after running. It's all relative, so considering I never stretched before, it didn't take much to be doing a lot more. I've already noticed that it's a bit easier to touch my toes, so that's some progress for number 2!

Number 3 is a tricky one to judge because I have noticed an improvement in my complexion, but I can't contribute that totally to diet. Part of the reason I wanted to try this whole clean eating thing though was because my skin was acting crazy. I've never really had a problem with acne but a few months ago my forehead erupted into a mess of unsightly bumps. So when I read this post about diet and how it can really help clear up skin, I was all for it. I didn't cut out gluten like she did (or lots of other things that she cut out), but I feel like eating less sugar and chocolate hasn't hurt + I started using Laura Mercier makeup which is apparently better for your skin than random drug store brands. Who knew?!

I've got the Whitewater Center in Charlotte on the agenda a couple of times this summer. I've never been before, but recently found out that you have to be able to do a pull-up to go on one of the zip lines. I don't want to be left out, so I had to get to work on this. I still struggle to do one from hanging with my arms all the way extended, but I've got it from standing with them bent just a tiny bit. Rob and I decided that I have really long scraggly arms so that makes it challenging ;) 

I've never really set personal goals like these, so it's kind of fun to try to work towards something. And it makes me focus on things I otherwise wouldn't, like stretching! 

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rules of Attraction: Smell Good

There is no denying that senior year of college was fun. I lived in a sorority house conveniently located by all of our favorite places to go out and I was single for the first time in a few years.  What began as a classy night out with girlfriends, ended up at a dive bar with 25 cent beers. Dirty, loud, and packed, with no defined dance floor, this place was just a blur of messy people; my crowd being in the minority with our legitimate 21-year-old IDs. I doubt it took long for me to join the masses in the middle of the bar for some good ol' girl on girl hip swaying with my bestie. And it was there, amidst the sensory overload of grungy dim dirtyness and loud music, that I smelled the most heavenly and perfect smell -- coming off of a a bar. At nearly 2 am. How does this happen? I'm not sure about that, but I do know that I was undeniably attracted. I danced on over and my nose buds took full advantage of the closeness required to have a conversation while standing next to a speaker. The attraction didn't end with his scent, but it only took about two instances of running into each other, and me nicknaming him "smell good" (obviously this is how I referred to him with friends, and not to his face), before we came to what I'm sure was a mutual realization that we just weren't long-term relationship material. Unfortunately, that didn't leave me with enough time to figure out the name of his cologne, or whatever it was that made this man smell so dang sensational. You'd think I would still be living in regret over this, but luck would have it that I met the Old Spice "man your man can smell like" and I get to spend the rest of my life with him.

It looks like I might also be spending a large portion of it with that exact Old Spice bottle, because it remains, over halfway full, in Rob's apartment shower. That means it has lived in 3 different showers since it was purchased in 2010.  Needless to say, Old Spice body wash isn't making our list of top favorite scents, but I'll leave you with a few:

Perfume:  Lanvin Rumeur 2 Rose and Bvlgari Omnia Christalline.

Mmm. Both smell young and happy; and though the Lanvin one has been discontinued and can't be found in department stores, it can be found on Amazon. For cheap.

Candle: Bath & Body Works Merry Mistletoe.

This candle should totally not be named this. If I had thought to stock up over the holidays, I'd be burning that thing right on through to next Christmas because it's got a fresh citrusy smell that doesn't get old.

Hand soap: Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Basil Liquid Hand Soap

I make up excuses to wash my hands just so I can smell this delicious soap on them for as long as it lingers. And I added it to our wedding registry. Is that normal? They make a counter spray too, which I can't wait to wash down my kitchen with once I've got one.

Things that I love smelling, but haven't quite found my favorite just yet are:
laundry detergent - the different colored Tide ones smell good, but I don't feel like they last on my clothes, so by the time I fold them, get them put away, then get them out to wear again they already have lost the scent. Any recommendations on a good detergent?
lotion - this is tough because if it smells too strong, it seems to get old quickly. I need some direction in finding the perfect lotion. Suggestions?
deodorant - I'm not so picky about this, as long as it works well. But that may just be because I haven't found a scent that wins me over. If you have a favorite, do share!
shampoo - good smelling shampoo is so nice, especially when I go to sleep with my hair wet. I love being able to smell it all day. I like the way Dove shampoo smells, but it's not that special.
man scent - cologne, deodorant, after-shave...or whatever it is that men use. Until I figure out what smell good was wearing, girls, I want to hear what you get for your guys - or maybe they get it for themselves - to keep them smelling fresh?

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

sadness & loss

 -Carol Lynn Pearson, "The Lord is my Shepherd"

I want this space to always be cheerful and optimistic, playful and fun – but right now, my heart is heavy and it doesn’t seem right to post about food, fashion, or recent festivities. Its been a trying week – seemingly one tragedy after another – and tonight I am so sad for Nation, a hometown friend to all, who has lost his lovely wife in such a devastating event. Last night I opened a book that Sally passed down to me – an inspirational interpretation of Psalms 23 that is focused on couples. The twenty third Psalm is truly a soul soother. Words that are full of peace and inspiration, and right now, that’s good to read.  But in light of this situation, I have to wonder, as I’m sure Nation must, is there truly purpose to this path?

I ache for Nation, and the thought of him going through this painful experience. Losing not only a soul mate, but also a best friend – someone that he trusted and supported, and who has betrayed him in the most unfathomable way. I pray for Nation, that at some point, somehow, he can find it in his heart of gold to forgive. And that green pastures and still waters lie in his not so distant future. And I’m cheering for Nation, as he picks up the remaining pieces of the life that he once knew, and puts them back together. I know he will, it’s just so hard to imagine how in this moment. But it’s times of deep, dire need, like this one, when we must look to God, and trust that there is a purpose to this path, and that He can restore our souls and nourish our spirits. My heart goes out to you, Nation. You are strong, inspiring, and loved. 

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