Monday, September 26, 2011

Dream House.

I believe in numbers. Specifically, I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and one of my little compulsions is breaking everything into 3's. It helps me feel in control, as bizarre as that may sound. But the reason I am telling you this, the reason I am convinced that the number 3 is significant in my life, is because I've been waiting all weekend to share this picture with you, and the Universe chose for this particular post to be my 300th. Yeah, I'm crazy like that... but we all have our own little quirks :)

This house means more to me than just about anything else that I currently or have ever owned in my entire life. This is where I grew up. I remember when we had to move away from this house, and I was so heartbroken that I told my mom that I hated her and would never forgive her for making us leave. Leaving this house broke my heart deeper than any boy ever has -- and that includes those middle school boys who made me feel like my life was so-over when they didn't want to hold hands in the hallway anymore. But like those boys, leaving leads to growth which leads to bigger and better things. At least that's the story I'm sticking to for now.

I can't even begin to tell you the memories that I've made in this house. My very first memory ever was when I was 3 years old at our kitchen table, and the cup I was drinking from had a handle that looked like the letter 'B'. I just remember feeling so proud that I knew what that letter was. This is also where I was potty trained, learned how to ride a bike (right on that street out front), and met a tree that was so significant that I named this blog after it. I also had a kick ass backyard, with a mickey mouse sprinkler that I would run through for hours in the summer.

My parent's built this house together. They had a say in every little detail. And the coolest memory that I have from this house, is the vacant field at the end of our street. They eventually built condos (which, I might add, were the absolute scariest and awesome-ist places to trick or treat -- these people went wayyy out!), but before the condos we used to be able to see hundred of hot air balloons. I think that there was some sort of hot air balloon club or race, and they would always stop in that field to re-fuel and we always got to go and talk to them and see the balloons up close. They were seriously beautiful, all lined up by the hundreds. There's nothing else like it.

We had a huge garden in the backyard with a compost pile, and every night we ate fresh vegetables. That garden was the best place to find frogs, and my mom was always checking my pockets because I was always trying to sneak them inside to my bedroom. There was also a field behind my house, and I was grounded so many times for running out of my mom's sight despite her screaming from the back porch that I was wondering too far.

Next door was an Indian family who I was head over heels in love with. I would go over for a visit several times a week, and they would paint a red dot on my forehead and teach me about their way of life. At Christmas, I was always blown away by the transformation of their living room -- they had a million dolls on display and I remember sitting in there for hours im amazement. I remember how they would never cut the grass in their backyard, and my best friend and I would pretend we were tigers for entire afternoons, crouching and jumping through that 5 foot tall grass.


Today when I look at this picture, I think about my childhood self and how carefree I was. There are still so many things about that little girl that are still true today: I hate wearing shoes (and clothes in general), I am the happiest when I'm outside on an adventure, I still talk to trees, and I still spend the majority of my life day dreaming and pretending that life isn't as serious as others make it out to be.

But things are different, too. Sometimes I wonder what I would say to my younger self. I think I would tell her to continue living her life without second guessing herself. I would tell her that life wouldn't always be easy, sometimes it would be unbearable, but that she is strong and will be able to grow from those experiences. I would tell her that her passion for learning and reading is rare, and to never let that go. And I think that most of all, I would tell her to not get so angry when childhood ends and she has to leave that house. Better things will come, she will meet new friends that will last her a lifetime, and eventually her path will lead her to not only a husband, but a soul mate who pushes her to be herself and encourages her to continue to grow.

I would love to go back in time and hug the younger version of myself, and tell her that it's ok to feel every emotion deeply. I would tell her to cherish the times spent with her grandfathers, because the sting when they leave her will stay with her forever. Especially on prom night and at her wedding. I would encourage her to continue going barefoot and making up songs and pretending to be a fairy or a bird -- to cross boundaries and explore every inch of the world around her.

And I think that the younger version of myself, would probably have a lot to say as well. She would probably tell me to relax. To stop worrying about money, because the important things in life don't cost anything. To go on an adventure a day and to continue looking for gnomes in the forest. She would encourage me to continue writing in my journal. And she would probably encourage me to be an astronaut when I grew up ;)

When I look at this picture, of the place where I grew up, I can't help but remember the little girl who once lived there and who she has become. A little different, but mostly the same. I like to think that that little girl would be proud of who I am today, and that her only dissapointment would be my hesitation to share my belief in magic with the rest of the world.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hoodie Weather :) [and a story about breastmilk]

My favorite season e v e r is finally here, but the thing about fall is that it seems like it takes forever for it to get here, and it's over before you know it! I've been literally begging Sean nightly to begin our scary movie marathon, and my tattoo appointment has been set for my Halloween themed sleeve. I cant wait to start checking things off of my Fall To-Do List!!

I read a very bizarre, yet hilarious Style Weekly story this morning about a man who is attempting to survive solely on his wife's breast milk. Yes, you read that correctly -- he is only drinking breast milk, no other food or drinks. Do you think it's possible to live solely off of Pumpkin Spice Latte's? Because that I would love to try! [obviously, this guy has a blog... check it out here if you need something to distract you from work today!]

in other news,

I want to spend my entire day here. . . . . . .

Thursday, September 22, 2011


One thing that Sean and I absolutely looooooove to do is entertain. We are always planning some kind of fun outing or party at our loft, because we have the most fun when we are making our friends happy. Last night, we had three of our close friends over for a small dinner party. This is a big deal, because within the past year I've really been branching outside of my comfort zone by experimenting in the kitchen. I've always been pretty good at baking, but up until recently the only ''meals'' I could make came right out of a box or a soup can. I was starting to worry that when Sean went away on business trips, our future children would be stuck eating frozen pizza and cereal. Not that I don't love pizza and cereal (two of my favorite foods!)... but I need to learn how to cook actual meals.

Last night I baked a very popular dish in our house. It doesn't really have a name, so we usually refer to it as a ''healthier'' version of Baked Spaghetti. And I use the term healthier very loosly. It's absolutely delicious (I can't wait to eat the leftovers for lunch!)

It's a pretty easy thing to make, and it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare. But, it's a good recipe for newbies, because there are a lot of steps and different things that need to be done -- so it's a good way to practice multitasking in the kitchen, and it's also a pretty hard dish to screw up.

What you will need:
  • We always buy frozen chicken strips, and for this recipe I use about 6 (if you have chicken breasts, then use about 3)
  • 1 bottle of Italian Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Spices -- I always use Italian Seasoning, Basil, and Rosemary or Parsley (about 1 TBS of each)
  • 2 TBS Garlic
  • 2 TBS Pesto
  • 1 Box of Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Mozzarella Cheese

[01] Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
[02] Boil a pot of water on the stove, and cook pasta
[03] While pasta is being prepped, start to thaw the chicken and then cut the chicken into cubes
[04] Once the pasta is cooked, drain & set to the side
[05] On a skillet, add 4 TBS Italian Dressing and cook chicken until no longer raw
[06] In a small bowl, mix together 2/3 of the bottle of Italian Dressing and add pesto, garlic, and spices
[07] Add pasta to the chicken on the skillet, add the Italian Dressing mixture, and stir for 3-5 minutes on medium heat
[08] Add mixture to a casserol dish and add mozzarella cheese to taste (I use the whole bag!)
[09] Place into the over for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted
[10] E N J O Y!!!!!

serving size: 6

I like to make what I call ''ghetto garlic bread'' with any pasta dish (Sean argues that this isn't realy ghetto and that most people do this... not just my family growing up) -- all you do is take bread of any kind and add butter, garlic, and oregano. It's delish.

Sean also insists that we have a vegetable with every meal (and thanks to  him I'm actually starting to LOVE our veggie sides!) I used broccoli with this dish, but I think green beans or brussel sprouts would also go well.

And for dessert, I made sugar cookies the night before. Nothing special, just the typical recipie that you can find several versions of online. If you can't tell by the picture, I like extra sprinkles :)

We really, really love eating this version of baked spaghetti! Let me know if you try it, or if you have any other recipies that are great for beginners!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

words to live by

I've been thinking about this post for over a week (Joanna's one of my favorites!)... and how sad it is that so many of us have lost touch with being outdoors. I've been making more of a conscious effort to get outside and enjoy bare feet, wind blown hair, and dirt under my fingernails. Let me tell you, it feels wonderful!

[image found here.]

Monday, September 19, 2011

Crabtree Falls Pt. 1

This weekend was spent at my favorite campsite in all of Virginia, Crabtree Falls! Me, Sean and three of our friends headed into the Mountains of Tyro, Virginia for one of the best weekends I've had in a long time - and the weather could not have been more perfect (hello, fall!)

We never go on a trip without our pups, and I think that even they had a great time! They are pretty much indoor dogs, but the more we go camping the better they seem to do adjusting. I also brought my natural, homemade bug spray that I'm constantly bragging about... we choose not to use heart worm or flea medication on our pups, so this was an absolute necessity (plus we use it on ourselves as well). You can read more about that here - it works wonders and doesn't leave your skin sticky and gross!

The whole weekend was pretty excellent, but there are two things that really stick out in my mind as the highlights. First, we FINALLY made it to the top of Crabtree Falls, a 5 mile hike (we count the mile walk to/from the campsite). When Sean and I camped here last year, we only made it about halfway up because it's pretty steep and draining. I cannot tell you how unbelievably good it felt to push myself and make it all the way - the view was definitely worth it! [holy moly, my legs are sore!]

The second highlight was coming back that night and cuddling up by the fire, sharing funny stories and laughing with my friends. It was actually pretty cold outside, and it was absolute heaven just hanging out and enjoying each others company!

We grabbed lunch in Charlottesville on our way home, and the pups have been sleeping ever since we left the campsite. We came home and watched the entire first season of Entourage and I took what could quite possibly have been the best shower in the known universe. After sleeping a whopping 11 hours last night, I'm still exhausted but riding off the high of this weekend! I wanna go back asap!

I suck at taking pictures when we camp because I'm too busy getting caught up in the stress-free-ness of being disconnected from everyday life. No facebook, no twitter, no cell phone services. Ohmygosh I love it.  But I did manage to take a few, and part two will be full of pictures that my friends took! Wait until you see the view from the top of the mountain!

1. our humble abode for the weekend   2. our 'backyard'! the campsite next to us caught a huge trout from this stream!   3. Sean & Sampson   4. Samps... passed out in the car :)

I hope you had a fun weekend as well!

Friday, September 16, 2011


It's Friday! It's Friday! And here in Richmond, it's a whopping 52 degrees! I'm used to wearing cardigans all year because of my tattoos, so I can't tell you how nice it feels to actually need one (they were absolute torture when it was in the 100's this summer).

As I said yesterday, I'll be camping at Crabtree Falls this weekend and the weather could not be more perfect. I'm looking forward to cuddling up in a sweatshirt and warming my hands and face by the fire tonight :)

So I know Fall doesn't officially start for a few days, buuuuuuut with the weather like it is today one can't help but celebrate early. Sitting here with a warm Starbuck's drink in hand, I thought it would be fun to share my Fall ''to do'' list with you. I do this every year, because it's so nice to have fun things to look forward to each weekend!

btw - you may get offended by this, but speaking of Starbuck's has anyone tried the Salted Carmel Mocha yet? I got one last night to sip on while I shopped for camping goodies, and I've gotta say I'm not a fan. It was too salty. I think they actually put a shit load of salt on the top.... nasty. Maybe it was my baristas fault? Who knows... but I'll be sticking to my bff the Pumpkin Spice Latte for good from here on out! (sorry I cheated on you, my friend!)

So without further adeu........

[original imagine found here]

[01.] Get pumpkins, apple cider, and apple donuts here.

[02.] Plan a Murder Mystery Dinner with a group of my favorite friends.

[03.] Check out the local haunted hot spots in Church Hill. Hopefully meet a friendly ghost :)

[04.] Go apple picking with this girl here (again!)

[05.] Camp at least one more time before it gets too cold, but this time here.

[06.] Throw a scary movie marathon with friends. Including my favorite movie of all time: The Shining.

[07.] Throw a badass Halloween party where everyone gets dressed up. I'm thinking about incorporating this into my costume this year :)

[08.] Attend the infamous Richmond City Drag Brunch in honor of my best friends birthday! (not really fall-specific, but nevertheless a good time!)

[09.] Force my puppies to dress like this and this. Because I'm mean like that :)

[10.] Get a Halloween themed sleeve here with this guy -- appointment has been set! I'm pumped!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Camping Goodness!

So I'm a little late to the game, but I finally added the Blogger App on my iPhone. Does anyone else use this for blogging? We'll see if it makes life easier or harder :)

I'm so excited about this weekend, because a group of us are headed on a camping trip to Crabtree Falls. I love this campsite, because it's in the mountains, we're surrounded by the forest, and we get to go hiking! Last year I underestimated the trail & didn't complete the trek, but this year I'm ready to make it to the top!

This week has been a long one, and I'm ready to relax in nature all weekend! What are you doing this weekend?

P.S. - How much do you love my rooftop view of the city? I love Richmond ;)

Monday, September 12, 2011

My weekend in pictures :)

This weekend was seriously so much fun! I got to spend time with some of my best friends, eat a ton of delicious food, and made plenty of time to relax and watch movies.

1. Hanging out with my best friend Brittany on Friday
2. S'mores party at 1am after I got back from the bar (yes, I ate all of them by myself!)
3. Sean & Samson after the massive nap we took together on Saturday
4. Watching the Sunset from our rooftop
5. Being silly with my neighbor, Morgan :)
6. Homemade chicken veggie soup that I made on Sunday! So good!
7. Movies all day Sunday with my two pups, Pete & Samson

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Fall Goodness :)

My first (of many!) Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season!

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. Some people look forward to the days building up to Christmas, but I personally get that same excited feeling on the days leading up to Halloween. I love all things creepy, and can't get enough of pumpkins, ghost stories, scary movies, and anything haunted and scary.

Over the long weekend, I spent two full days deep cleaning our apartment and getting it ready for fall. Our little loft currently smells of spiced apple plug in's and hazlenut candles -- and with all the rain we've been having, it's never felt more cozy :)

Every year, Sean and I throw a huge Halloween party for all of our friends. I've recently jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon (thanks a lot, Sarah!) and it's gotten me so excited about party favors and decorations that I couldn't help but share my findings with all of you!

Here are some of my Official Halloween Party ideas (all thanks to, Pinterest):

I don't really like eating candy corn, but I love the way it looks! I can't wait to fill candel holders with this fall treat! Such a pretty/classy way to show off the ultimate fall goody!

 Everyone likes cupcakes, and how creepy are these body parts?! Nice touch!

We always make a ton of food for our guests, and this year I want to attempt these adorable mummies! They're almost too cute to eat....... almost!

As I said, I'm obsessed with pumpkins. This is an adorable way to incorporate them into any party -- simply hollow out a larg pumpkin, place a clear bowl inside, add ice and voila! Pumpkin Ice Bucket!

I've never done 'party favors' before, but this was such an awesome idea that I don't think I can pass it up! Buy mason jars and fill them with individual cocktails -- I'm thinking red koolaide spiked with vodka, and labeling them 'Vampires Blood'. So fun!

I love how the bloggosphere has become totally obsessed with fall right along with me -- there are so many great posts lately about this magical time of year! What's you favorite fall tradition, party favor, or costume idea?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Help and how I feel about it.

Yesterday, my very best friend and I watched The Help together. Unless you've been living under a rock lately, I'm sure you've heard all about this film and maybe even seen it once (or twice or three times!) yourself. Yesterday was my first time, and at the end of the movie I was completely caught off guard by how emotionally drained I was, and how totally effected by it I became. (check out the trailer if you haven't already)

The Help is centered around the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's. It was a time period that I could relate to more easily than trying to envision slaves picking cotton or being sold on ships. I remember my mother telling me stories about their housekeeper and how she cooked, cleaned, and helped raise her and her sister. That really blows my mind, to think that this was the world that my parent's grew up in.

But what really saddened me about this movie was the reality that so much of this division between whites and blacks is still prevalent today. I sat in my chair watching so many young, white girls crying over the scenes in this film -scenes that if you can sit through and not be effected by them, you are surely not human- and I wondered how many of them think that when they step out of the theatre and go back to their everyday lives, everything goes back to the way that it was. Where because we are white, we forget or don't even realize that so many people (not only blacks) are struggling for equality.

Aside from the racial slurs that I hear almost daily, including those directed towards our very own president, there is an inequality in the poverished neighborhoods which directly mirrors scenes from The Help that I still have chills thinking about. Some of you may remember hearing about a government funded program that Michael Moore discussed in his documentary Bowling for Columbine, called Welfare to Work. This program, although born from good intentions, was an ultimate failure because it bused women (many of whom were mothers) hours away from their homes for jobs that barley paid minimum wage. These mother's left for work before their children got up for school, and returned late in the evening right before they were going to bed. I think most of us can agree that when children are left unsupervised, more times than not it's a negative experience. As I watched the Maids in The Help get on buses and travel to the white neighborhoods where they worked, I couldn't help but think about these women effected by the Welfare to Work Program as they got on similar buses headed to similar jobs.

But on a personal level, this film embodies not only the sole reason I decided to become a Social Worker in the first place, but also the sole reason that I am desperately trying to get out of this field completely. When I was in college, I wanted to make an impact in my community and more or less 'change the world.' I was obsessed with learning about inequality between Whites and Blacks, especially about how our government holds lower class minorities back (for more on this, read the book Code of the Street), because I thought that if I could just change a few lives and other social workers changed a few lives, we'd be making progress in no time. As a student, I really had no idea how long it takes for any progress to be made, and I really had no idea how hard minorities had it until I started meeting families and doing home visits.

Furthermore, I underestimated how hard this work really is, especially when you're paid next to nothing to do it. On my very first week at my very first job, I remember sitting in an empty closet reading client files. I literally felt sick reading about the abuse and neglect that these children had gone through - no wonder they were acting out in the ways that they were. I still get that sick feeling and have even sat in my office with the door closed crying on several occasions after reading some of the files of clients on my caseload. These kids have lived through things that most of us have only envisioned in our deadliest nightmares.

Aside from reading the files, it's a whole different ballgame meeting with children and their families for the first time. There are barriers that a white social worker has to break through, as I have had to pay for things that others in my race have done (past and present) which have caused a great deal of mistrust and even hatred at times. Many families don't say very much when I first meet with them, and when they do it's usually to the tune of 'what does a young white girl such as yourself know about our community'. It takes a lot of time to build trust with them, and get past the overall hatred that many of them (rightly so) feel towards my race.

Every day is emotionally exhausting, because I get to see first hand exactly how our government keeps minorities from success. Our City schools resemble jails moreso than classrooms, and aside from the normalcy that's placed on 17 and 18 year olds still failing 9th grade, most of them will graduate without knowing how to read. I get to watch grandmothers and mothers trying to raise young men who have never met their fathers, and these boys are so desperate for a male role model and some sort of protection that they begin participating in gangs. I watch these same boys as they sell drugs in order to pay for their grandmother or mothers medication, because without this money they would be left to suffer a disease without relief. I see young girls getting pregnant at age 14 because they are so desperate to feel loved. Many of these girls are in relationships with grown men who abuse them, repeating the cycle of abuse that most have learned from the relationship with their fathers. I get to hear about children who have found bodies on the street and had to cover them up and call for help, and then heard stories about how the police never came for that incident or really any other time they've been needed. I see people self medicating with illegal drugs, prostituting so that they can pay bills, and attempting suicide over and over again because life the way it is has become unbearable. As you can imagine, it becomes overwhelming after a while.

I think that there is no better time for The Help to have surfaced than now. It's important that we are reminded of our history, no matter how difficult it is to watch. It's important that we catch a glimpse of how hard others have had it, so that we can learn and grow as individuals and make sure that things only continue to improve -- because we have a long, long way to go (although it is important to give credit as well to how far we have come). Please do not be fooled into thinking that The Help is a period piece displaying the way things 'once were'. Minorities are still struggling, and we are far from equal.

My hope for this film, is that people will continue to watch it and continue to be changed by it.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Hair Day!

This week has seriously been the best - you have no idea how badly I needed to chill out from reality and relax a little. It's funny how the universe is so good at balancing things out. I only worked a day and a half this week, and I'm currently in the midst of enjoying a 4 day weekend. Life is good :)

Nothing makes me feel better than getting my hair done - and trust me, I really needed it this time. My hair was extremely dry, faded, and looked like such a rats nest. Yesterday I saw my girl Carol at Bombshell and she worked her magic. If you're ever in the Richmond area I highly recommend her, she's the only hairdresser I've met who makes your hair the EXACT shade that you want... no matter what your hair looks like to begin with. I'm not exaggerating, she is the ultimate Queen of Color.

Today I'm deep cleaning our loft and taking a quick break to hit up the store for a fall scented candle, more bleach, and drain-o. I feel like I'm working all of my frustration out on every room of our apartment, and it feels amazing!

I hope you get to enjoy a long weekend, as well. Do you have anything fun planned? I have a few cookouts that I get to attend, and I hope I get a chance to lounge at the river! Stay safe :)

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