Just Peeking

Some signs of spring are peeking out! Here in the mountains the forsythia are in full bloom, daffodils have bloomed and are beginning to fade already, trees are starting to show signs of leaves and flowers, bulbs are shooting up their hopeful green leaves, and the grass is greening up.

Maple Leaves

Maple Leaves

Dogwood Buds

Dogwood Buds

Forsythia

Forsythia

Iris Shoots

Iris Shoots

Hydrangea Leaves

Hydrangea Leaves

Inside, in my forest of potted plants, my Christmas cactus is blooming magnificently for the first time since I got it, and just in time for Easter. Christmas Cactus And my Peace Lily is blooming, too! Peace LilyOne of my favorite things about spring is the incredible contrast that the new growth brings to the landscape. Green grass poking up through the brown turf left from last year, colorful flowers bursting out, bulb shoots coming up between the dead leaves (we’ll clean the rest of those out eventually). The fresh pale green color of new leaves is so refreshing. And the birds sing all the time! It’s been especially exciting this spring because we’re in a new house – we see more color outside every day. Pardon me while I run outside to take some more pictures.

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Weekend Review: Charleston and Kiawah Island, SC

So it turns out that the beach is a totally doable weekend adventure. And it also turns out that it was the perfect weekend getaway.

Beach things

Packing for the beach!

Starbucks for the road

Starbucks stop for the road.

Tattooed Moose

Tattooed Moose in Charleston for lunch!

Said No One Ever

“That clean shaven man is so sexy.” – No One Ever

King Street

Walking around Charleston, SC.

Half Moon Outfitters

Wit at Half Moon Outfitters.

Butterfly Bushes

Critters

My handsome man

Haint Blue Ceiling

Haint Blue Ceilings: Tradition in Gullah Culture says that evil spirits, or “haints,” can’t cross water. The pale blue paint symbolizes water, so by painting porch ceilings and door frames they prevented evil spirits from entering.

Hominy Grill

Notso Hostel

Driving to Kiawah Island

Blurry photo of the beautiful road to Kiawah Island.

Kiawah Island Beachwalker Park

Ocean bliss.

Scott at the beach

Beach happy

Beachwalker Park

Feet in ocean pic

Scott bliss

To say it was an amazing trip would not be doing it justice.

“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.” ~ Kate Chopin

Paris!

Several months ago my uncle called me and told me that my grandmother wanted to take me to Paris! Of course, I said yes. And we decided to go during my Spring Break! Plane tickets were bought and planning commenced. I signed up to take a 7 week French class for a crash course – my first French class after many years of Spanish classes – and, in the words of my fiancé, I learned just enough to be dangerous.

We rented an apartment for the week in the middle of Paris, got Paris Museum Passes to see as many museums and monuments as possible, figured out how to find each other once in Paris, and off we went! (Okay, it wasn’t quite that simple.)

First day in Paris!

Grandma and me on the balcony of our flat overlooking our street in Paris! Soon after our arrival.

Claude Monet's House and Gardens at Giverny

Claude Monet’s House and Gardens in Giverny

Giverny - Monet's Gardens

Grandma and me in Monet’s Gardens – seriously gorgeous.

Monet's Flowers

Mmm spring flowers in Monet’s gardens.

L'arc de Triomphe

L’Arc de Triomphe

Hall of Mirrors

Hall of Mirrors, Chateau de Versailles

Versailles

Chateau de Versailles from the gardens.

Le Tour Eiffel

Le Tour Eiffel

View from Le Tour Eiffel

The view from le Tour Eiffel.

Musee du Louvre

Louvre!

Musee du Louvre

Sculptures in the Louvre

Le Basilique du Sacre Coeur

Le Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Monmartre. Climbing the stairs with Grandma and finally going inside was incredibly moving and was one of my favorite things about Paris.

Selfie at Notre Dame

Selfie at Notre Dame!

Candles at Notre Dame

Candles inside Notre Dame

Stained Glass in Notre Dame

Beautiful stained glass in Notre Dame.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame from the Seine River

Musee d'Orsay

Musee d’Orsay

Le Penseur

Le Penseur (The Thinker) – Musee Rodin

Le Baiser

Le Baiser (The Kiss) – Musee Rodin

Le Petit Chatelet

Le Petit Chatelet – the most wonderful little restaurant where we had one of the best meals I have ever had the pleasure of eating in my life. Roast duck with pistachios and all the other goodness on my plate.

Centre Pompidou

Centre Pompidou – Museum of Modern Art

View from the Centre Pompidou

View from the Centre Pompidou

The door to our courtyard

The door to the courtyard where our flat was.

There really are not enough words for the week I spent in Paris with my Grandma. It was a once in a lifetime kind of adventure and if given the opportunity I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I just feel so incredibly lucky to have been given such a spectacular gift. I know I will, and already do, look back on the time spent together so fondly. The memories we created together, the laughs we had, the stories we told, and the time we spent is some of the best time of my life. I only wish it could have been longer.

Here’s to many more adventures in this lifetime.

Seven Years

7 Years

Celebrating 7 incredible years with the love of my life! It has been quite the last 7 years and I am so excited to see what happens next in our life together! I could blab on and on and on about how much I love him and what an extraordinary adventure this has been, but instead here are 7 things.

1. He is so handsome in plaid – and it’s a good thing because he wears a lot of it. He is handsome all the time.

2. He makes me laugh every day.

3. He helps me see things in a new light and challenges me to be my best.

4. He supports me always.

5. He loves me unconditionally.

6. I love him more than I thought it possible to love someone.

7. And I get to marry him and live happily ever after!

I love you so much, Scott!

Warmth

A month in review:

1. I am going on a trip to Paris over my Spring Break with my Grandma! I have been taking a French class for the last couple of months and it has been amazing. I am so excited!!!

Paris!

2. Our sweet Lily passed away after 14 years of unconditional love and is now resting in peace. She was such a beautiful princess and is so missed, but she is in a better place. I imagine that she has found the biggest stick in heaven and is playing keep away in the greenest sunniest grassy meadow. Rest in peace, sweet Lily. I love you!

Sweet Lily

3. These tulips helped bring hints of spring into our home. It feels like sunshine in a jar!

Tulips!

4. And we have some coming up outside the door, along with some hyacinths!

Planties!

5. Planning a wedding with this handsome man has been the best adventure of my life! I can hardly wait to be married to him.

My handsome fiancé

6. Also, these two cuties drove down from Michigan to visit us and the ever so talented Leigh took our engagement photos! Hooray! It was so wonderful having you two visit. Can’t wait to see you again soon!

These cuties

7. Things are starting to bloom ’round these parts! It makes me giddy every time I see them. Ahh spring! How I’ve missed you.

Crocuses!

8. Also, ice cream is the bees’ knees. Especially on warm, sunny days.

Chocolate on chocolate

9. Most especially ice cream eaten with this handsome fella.

Handsome fiancé

10. And spring warmth means Wedge weather! ‘Nuff said.

Wedge weather

My life juggling has gone to a new level – full-time job, planning a wedding, yoga, French class, Spanish class, trip to Paris, trip to Spain, and all of those other sundry life delights. Somehow it all feels just perfect. This year is full of so many blessings. And I am so happy!

Flowers for February

Sometimes I just feel like flowers are so perfect! It is totally reasonable to pick up a bouquet at Trader Joe’s. And it is amazing what it does for my mood and spirit. I love flowers! And it’s already February! So that’s what I’m celebrating today. Flower and February!

Flowers for February

Peace

Started this year baking cookies and sipping bubbly, at home with my sweetheart enjoying the peace and quiet. The infrequent boom of fireworks barely audible in the distance. There was no big countdown, mostly because we missed it amidst the oven timers and the cork hitting the ceiling mere moments before midnight. Suddenly it was tomorrow and the New Year and there we were, standing in the kitchen with glasses of bubbly, wishing each other Happy New Year and it was peaceful and perfect.

As we yawned and stretched this morning, letting the sunshine bring us into wakefulness, there was a cozy blanket of calm and peace that seemed to envelope our corner of the universe. This year promises to be exciting and challenging, joyous and full of new things. I hope that the sense of peace and calm we felt today carries through this year and that in times of stress and commotion we can be reminded to snuggle up under its cozy blanket.

This sweet goat was snoozing away in the feed bucket amidst all the children and chickens running around on the farm at the Biltmore today.

Snoozing Goat

Carry this peace and calm, tuck it in your heart for always.

Reflections on 2013

What a year this has been!

Belated Christmas with Dad and Dean in January. My mom got a job teaching in Kuwait. Scott graduated from Warren Wilson. We went on a road trip to New York, Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island. I taught summer camps. Spent a lot of time on I-40 between Asheville and Carrboro. Helped my mom sort through her house and get it ready to sell. Started my second year of teaching preschool with the best teachers and kids. My mom moved to Kuwait. Went to three weddings. Spent the first Christmas of my life very far away from all of my family (except Scott). And GOT ENGAGED!!!

I could go through and be all sappy and post a bazillion pictures, but I really just wanted to think about what a crazy wonderful year this has been. And I am already thinking about all the craziness that the New Year will be! BRING IT ON 2014!!!

We’re starting a new tradition of making Peanut Butter Blossoms on New Year’s Eve and drinking bubbly! Here we go!

Peanut Butter Blossoms