Tuesday, May 30, 2017

And So It Begins...

We're home owners again, ya'll, and we couldn't be more excited!

Officially closed on Ingleside House last Friday, and spent our holiday weekend driving back and forth between home improvement stores, covered in paint, and running on fumes (literally and figuratively).

Not a restful holiday in the slightest, but it sure was fun!

So far we have almost four rooms painted: dining, den, office, and guest. Here are some of the colors we've already said goodbye to:

As we begin to invest some sweat equity into this home, it's beginning to feel more like ours  even though we still won't be living here for awhile. This week (allegedly - fingers crossed) the contractors come to town, and demo begins to carve out a second floor powder room. Stay tuned for all the dusty details (and the before and afters of our progress)! :-)

Friday, May 26, 2017


Recently, I was reading THIS article from the blog Becoming Minimalist, and what really resonated with me from it were these few questions toward the end. Questions that take time to uncover the answers to. They require slowing down, stillness, introspection. They require really digging deep and tuning in with your heart and what matters most to you...things we don't typically do often enough. So why not take yourself to a coffee shop, plan a visit to the park with your significant other, or cozy up with some tea in your favorite chair, and spend some time with these questions...

I think you'll be glad you did.

+ Do you speak up when it counts?

+ What do you love to do, but never make time for?

+ In regards to the risks you're afraid of taking, what do you really have to lose?

+ What are you proud of?

+ Do you speak kindly to yourself and to others?

+ Are you living or existing?

+ What impact do you want to leave on the people you love?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kale Salads

Ever since kale started making it's early spring appearance on the Farmer's Market scene, I just can't seem to say no to bringing a big beautiful bunch of it home!

Currently, I find myself mixing up huge salads with this bounty that will last us for several days. If you're anything like me, the decision for healthy eating often depends on my ambition level/energy du jour, and some days, I just don't feel like lots of washing, chopping, and tossing! So how nice is it to come home to a ready-made powerhouse of both flavor and nutrition?

The nice thing about kale is that I think it gets even better as it sits bathed in a light dressing...softening in both texture and flavor. Something we'd never dream of with spinach or lettuce! I've had a salad last us 4 or 5 days, and still be just as delicious as mixing day.

There are so many yummy fruit and veggie combinations you could try! The key is finding long lasting compadres for your kale base. For example, I don't like to use tomatoes for my original mix (because we all know refrigerators take every bit of happiness out of a tomato), but I'll toss a few grape tomatoes in just before eating - super easy. Same with most nuts, seeds, or any fruit that looses color after being exposed to air (like apples or pears).

Best part is, for days your salad will be all set for you to use as a side dish, or you can choose to add some meat and bread to quickly turn it into an entre'!

 Here are just a few combos to get your gears turning...

Kale, blue cheese, blueberries, cucumbers, onion, salad burnet. -Adding pumpkin seeds and chicken just before eating

Kale, onion, olives, red pepper, feta, bacon. -Adding tomatoes just before eating

Kale, cucumber, strawberries, quinoa, onion, brie. -Adding cashews just before eating

I usually just use a simple dressing (either evoo/balsamic/salt and pepper or honey/stoneground mustard/water) lightly dress, and massage into the salad. Then cover tightly, refrigerate, and reap the joys of food prep for the coming week!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Gentle Thoughts Vol. 3

"Can you remember who you were before the world told you who to be?" 
- Danielle LaPorte

Friday, May 12, 2017

Ingleside Rising

Wow. It's been quite the arduous journey getting to this place. But I'm so grateful to finally be approaching the finish line in the house hunting marathon of 2016/17.

It seems we've found our Ingleside in the City!

The day we first set foot in Ingleside, we had toured two other maaaaajor fixers. Like, woah. Nearly gut jobs! They both had low ceilings and really dark interiors, so I think what hit us most dramatically inside the door of our future home were the bright cheerful windows, and the more-than-adequately high ceilings and doorways for my 6+ foot guy. We looked at each other and smiled before we were even out of the foyer (yes, it has a foy-yay! ;-)). I think even then...we just knew.

Once we started adjusting our course toward looking at existing homes, we planned on finding a house that needed some renovation work so that we could build our own particular style into the place. This house however, had already been reno-ed inside 13 years prior (the exterior is a different story, so there will still be plenty of opportunity to get our hands dirty!). We were a little disappointed in this scenario, but the decisions the owner made were tasteful enough, and not at all extreme or offensive- even though they may not be what we would have chosen ourselves. We started instantly envisioning our life there!

So we thought and prayed about it a. lot. Made an offer that was rejected. Walked away. Thought and prayed about it some more. And eventually came back and made a second offer that was actually accepted. Of course all of that took place over many weeks...such an oversimplification of the agonizing process to spare you six or seven paragraphs ;-)! Ha!

Now here are some bullet points:

What we love:

+ It's old! She'll turn 100 in just a few years! So: CHARACTER.
+ There is a huge wrap around porch *swoon*
+ A guest apartment is already built and ready to go in the basement!
+ There is a fireplace (though, gas... womp-womp)
+ It has the space to potentially have an in-home photography studio(!!) 
+ The floors are original, and delightfully creaky
+ Every room is pretty bright and cheerful
+ Walk up attic
+ Lots of off-street parking
+ Plenty of room and sunlight for gardening (and chickens!)
+ A place for Patty
+ The location is really the ringer: we will be less than a block from a darling village-within-a-city. Living in a small walkable "main street" area has always been a dream of ours...though we usually attached that dream to living in New England. You just never know how your life will piece together, do you? But steps from our front porch are an old renovated movie theatre, several great restaurants, a park, farmer's market, and local greenway trail. We're excited to move right into the heart of a micro-community!

What dreams are coming true:

+ Community, yet space. A busy foot path runs in front of our house-to-be and we love the opportunity that might afford to meet people and socialize, yet we are not in a neighborhood, and therefore have found some "breathing room" in the city.
+ Less outdoor landscaping upkeep. Once we get the outside spruced up and landscaped, we think it will be much less day-to-day doing, and much more day-to-day enjoying! Plus: paved parking! *cue jazz hands* - Our long gravel driveway at Windy Poplars was a HUGE (never-ending) maintenance load for Jesse.
+ Living in a home with character and a history
+ Having separate rent-able guest quarters (Who wants to live with us??! We are taking on a long term renter at least for the first year.)
+ Room to entertain, host small groups/workshops, and easy parking for those guests
+ A destination out of town family will actually enjoy visiting (close proximity to so many fun things!)
+ Supports our current businesses well
+ We can have chickens! (Ok, maybe this was MY dream, not so much my husband's ;-))
+ They deliver the mail right to your front door. Might seem like a little insignificant checkbox, but it's always been on my bucket list (after walking an uphill tenth of a mile to get the mail everyday for thirteen years)! Ha!

At this point, we're still in the waiting-to-close stage, answering a million emails a day from realtors, inspectors, lenders, and contractors, and hoping that everything shakes down quickly and without too much drama. But we are so excited to jump into the adventure of making this house our home!!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Listening Well

Why has it become so difficult to be HEARD?

Perhaps because of my intrinsic draw toward community and sharing life with others, or maybe because I teach exercise classes that focus on mindfulness and being fully present, but one thing that makes my heart sink clear down to my toes is whenever I feel like someone isn't actually listening to me. It's akin to a good hard kick in the gut. And ya'll, I feel like it's getting worse by the day. Don't you?

It may be the email reply that comes back with only one of your three questions answered...for the second time. Or perhaps the people in church who ask "Hi! How are you?" as they keep walking, with no intention of hearing your reply. Maybe it's my husband who is carrying on an intermittent text conversation through the evening hours and then asks questions the next morning that I already gave him answers to the night before. Then there was the vet tech who was asking about Caroline's recent injury, and I mentioned three or four times how she has been favoring her back left leg, but when she went to type up her summary asked, "Is she favoring any of her legs?" *bangs head against wall* All of these examples happened to me just this past week, FYI.

In the social media world, I've seen this showing up so much lately. People write a very clear informational sales post: including size, condition, age, price, etc... Then two or three people comment instantly below asking: what size is this? What price are you asking? When, if they would have just thoroughly read the original post, they would have clearly found the answers they were looking for. Or on Instagram when somebody comments "This is awesome!!" on a post that was actually about your dog dying.

Is this the ultimate disrespect?? Is it telling people, "I don't care enough about this interaction to be here present in it...you're not worth the energy it takes to listen."

But what has caused this epidemic? Why can't we listen well anymore?

Though by no means a professional, I feel that much of this decline has come through the transient one-sided-ness that characterizes present-day social interaction. You can easily see whatever people are in the mood to share (whenever it's convenient for you) by choosing to click open Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat, etc.. - BUT you have no obligation to interact with the conversation they've started, so you consequently have no vested interest and therefore no reason to fully be present in it - i.e. really hearing/registering what they say. In fact, if it bores you, you just click along to the next post in your feed... AmIRight???

This learned way of interacting seems to be subtly teaching us how to be pretty darn rotten friends/neighbors/professionals/etc., and, zoom out a bit: people whose brains don't know how to "land". Constantly hovering, ever looking for the next thing, the next post, constant distraction, entertainment, darting to and fro like ADD riddled hummingbirds.

Sure, maybe that's a strong concept. But think about how comfortable you are with truly being present in any given moment. Can you go out on a date, and happily leave your phone at home (or in the car)? Can you put your iPad away, open the windows and do nothing but listen to the rain? Can you do something fun or make something cute, and not have the urge to 'Gram it?

 If you know us, you know that answering "no" to any of the questions in the last paragraph is the antithesis of slow living - a lifestyle we are passionate about bringing awareness toward. Living slow simply means the practice of being fully present in each of these moments we've been given. It means savoring life.

It means listening well. 

Do I think social media is from the devil? Hello! Of course not. I actually think it can be an impetus for wonderful things! But I do think we can all learn to be more present in social media just as we can in real life. To comment, not just "like", to reach out when someone felt vulnerable enough to share their heart, to encourage, to engage with real life friends IN real life about what they've recently posted.

 To listen (not just skim and click).

Can one person start a listening revolution? Doubtful. 

But I can hope that today you heard...and that you'll share this message with others who will hear.

I can hope that tonight as you go home to your family or roommates, and tomorrow as you walk through your day, you will learn to "un-plug" sometimes so that you can plug-in to those relationships and interactions and let the people that cross your path know that they are worth the effort of listening to.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The White Oak Tea Tavern | Salem, Virginia

One of our favorite haunts has a new home! 

The White Oak Tea Tavern used to live in a centuries old log cabin in Daleville where we became "regulars" nearly since its inception. I even remember going to a White Oak Tea in-home party (before the tavern ever existed!) and tasting Cherry Rose Festival for the first time...it was love at first sip and created a loyalist for life right then and there. ;-)

My husband and I are both self-proclaimed tea enthusiasts, and we were beyond thrilled to discover a tea tavern those many years ago far removed from the teeny cucumber sandwiches that left your tummy rumbling for more, lacy curtains circa great-grandma's house, and floral wallpaper in dizzying abundance. This was a place where men felt just as comfortable as women, you could wear your jeans and a tee shirt to dine, and you left fat and happy!

We love the relaxed pace and friendly atmosphere that owner Kim Arney brings to the tavern, and somehow, teacup in hand, Jesse and I always say we have the best and most focused conversations there. Whenever we had something important to discuss, it was time for a Tea Tavern date... Whenever we had something to celebrate, the Tea Tavern it was again! Whenever it was a gray and rainy Monday, you guessed it: the Tea Tavern made it's way onto our agenda. :-)

Nothing is predictable but change they say, and when we heard that our beloved tavern was going to be moving, our hearts broke a little for all the sweet memories those old log walls held, but Kim assured us that The Old Preston House was full of its own kind of charm, and thanks to our impending move, we'll actually be closer than we were to the Daleville location! Yay!

The grand opening was this Monday, and of course, we wouldn't have missed it for the world. Poking around all the wonderfully unpretentious nooks and crannies, somehow, it already feels like "home". Having much of the same decor helps, and "our" cozy chairs (seriously, shouldn't we get nameplates on them, Kim?! hahaha!) made the move too, much to our delight.

The food, headlined by two delicious chicken salad selections: a savory hot version served in a bread bowl, and a cold sweeter version served on a bed of lettuce (we always get one of each and share) somehow seemed better than ever! But of course the star of the show is their huge selection of delicious tea varieties: black, green, white, herbal, pu-erh, you're sure to find a few (or a dozen) favorites among them. 

 They are open from 10-5 Monday-Saturday, and reservations are no longer needed (except for large groups), so grab some friends and family and plan your visit to The White Oak Tea Tavern soon, we bet you'll become "regulars" in no time!

You can find the new location directly across the street from Walmart on Main St. in Salem.