November 21, 2012


Just a heads up to all you lovely posts will be quite erratic over the next six weeks. Between Thanksgiving travel, packing up our house in Jacksonville, moving (literally) all the way across the country, and getting settled in Whidbey Island, WA, the next six weeks are going to be C-R-A-Z-Y, CRAZY!  

(Not to mention, our computer will be packed (along with almost everything else), and finding a computer to blog on at either my Mom's, Dad's, or in-law's might be a little tricky.)

Regardless, please...pretty please...with a cherry on top...STICK AROUND! By the time the new year arrives, I will be setting up to blog regularly again from our new home. I am sure that I will have LOTS of adventures to share with you, along with loads of new recipes and posts from our new home!

Wherever you are this holiday season, may your days be overflowing with love and laughter.
May you be surrounded by family and friends.
May you cherish every precious moment that you are given.

Until next time!

Ally and Bo

November 19, 2012

Long Weekend in Cape Cod and Boston

I know that I haven't posted in a week, my apologies.  As I mentioned in my last post, I've been in and out of town all month.  Yesterday I got back from my trip to Cape Cod/Boston, and today I have a LOT to share with you from my weekend away from home (apologies ahead of time for the HUGE PHOTO BOMB that you are about to experience).  Originally I was going to break these pictures up into two (or maybe even three) posts; but since we are leaving again on Wednesday morning to head up to Alabama for Thanksgiving, I just don't think that I am going to have the time to get more than one post done.

Here goes nothin':

I went up to the Boston area to visit my friend Colbi.  She and I met while Bo and I were stationed in Corpus Christi.  Colbi went to grad school in Texas, and was working in Port Aransas (just outside of Corpus) at the time.

Since then, she has gotten married and moved up to Cape Cod to live with her husband.  Long story short, Colbi and I both love the Twilight franchise.  In fact, if you have been a reader here for a while, you might remember that we went to the midnight showing of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 this time last year.  Outside of Twilight, we also have a ton of other similar interests, including:

In fact, she has one that I gave her framed and hung in her yoga room. :)

I also sort of (OK, totally) fell in love with Colbi's house.  It's an old one, and it needs quite a bit of work; but if you had the time and money to put into it, you could really turn it into something special.  Colbi and her husband, Brad, are just renting, so they won't be putting any blood, sweat, and tears into the house.  Regardless, it has a TON of potential that I couldn't help sharing with you all.

For instance, I just loved the little built-in shelves in the upstairs bathroom.  The woodwork is amazing, and adds something unique and special about an otherwise common feature.

The staircase was beautiful.  I especially loved the railing (original to the house) and the hardwood floors - which you can't really see in this pic, but were also gorgeous and seemingly original to the house

The kitchen needs some work, but the bones were really good.  The room itself has P-L-E-N-T-Y of room for an island or small breakfast nook set, and lots of natural light makes its way in through the kitchen's four large windows.  

The floor and countertops would probably need to be replaced; but the cabinets were in good shape, and the windows are brand new.  
I LOVE the wood details around the windows and cabinets.  
In the end, I think that a coat of paint and new fixtures would do wonders for making this kitchen look brand, spankin' new!

Also in the kitchen (directly across from the sink and windows) is this large, GORGEOUS, built-in shelving unit.  I would love to display some of my china or great-grandmother's silver on these shelves; and once again, the wood detailing is stunning!

Continuing with the theme of built-in character, the formal dining room includes two of these corner cabinets.  These would be the perfect place to display old family heirlooms or family pictures.  

You could always buy a piece of furniture like this to put in your home, but - in my opinion - it just wouldn't be the same.  Something about it being a part of the house really makes it special.  It's like, before you even put anything of yourself in the home, the home itself has a personality.  

The living room has a large portrait window that opens into this unobstructed view of New England's fall colors. 

Here's a view of the house from the front yard (I was standing right in front of the trees from the previous picture.  You can see the portrait window right in the front of the house).
Isn't it adorable?!
Granted, if you owned the house and wanted to refurbish it, you would need to redo the outside quite substantially.  Regardless, I think that the house itself is so cute!  It has a personality all its own!

Old tree, outside.

Colbi and Brad's chickens!

Beautiful fall foliage.

View from one of the stained glass windows in their home.

By some strange stroke of luck, when we arrived at 7:40PM on Thursday night we were the only ones there!  
I couldn't  believe it.  
Last year we had to stand in line - outside - for 30 minutes, before we were even allowed to enter the theater and wait.  

Whatever the reason, we were stoked!  
By being the first in line we were certain of having the best seats in the house for the grande finale!
The theater ended up being packed, so we were really glad that we got to the theater as early as we did.  Our earliness really paid off!

YES, we are that big of fans!
YES, we loved the movie that much!
AND YES, we were first in line AGAIN!

Again, the theater ended up being completely packed, but our pre-planning paid off.  We sat in the best seats in the house for the second time in a row; and the movie was just as good, if not better, the second time around.  
I won't spill any spoilers for any of you who have yet to see the film; but let me just say, if you are a fan you WILL NOT be disappointed.  The franchise's finale film is awesome, action-packed, full of surprises that you won't see coming, and concludes with an ending that will leave each and every fan satisfied.

On Saturday we took the T into Boston for a day of exploring!

We started off by walking parts of The Freedom Trail.

And, of course, stopped along the way to take pictures. :)

I loved the cobble-stone streets.  
As we were walking around downtown Boston, I could imagine horses trotting along these roads, people protesting before the Boston Tea Party, and some of our countries greatest leaders walking to meetings that would change our countries' history forever.  

And then we walked by the Christmas tree that was going to be lit later that evening.  
As you can see, it was HUGE!
I'm not even sure that the tree in Central Park, NY is that big!

Originally, we were planning to stay for the tree lighting later that evening; but truth be told, after 5+ hours walking around in the city, we decided to head home.  Downtown Boston was getting CRAZY busy, and the cold factor was getting chillier by the minute. After all, we did get to see the tree, it just wasn't lit yet.

I had never eaten there - or even heard of it - but Colbi promised me that it would be a good time.  
For those of you that don't know the premise behind Dick's, it's this: the waitstaff are rude, a little mean, and a lot condescending...but the whole thing's in fun.  The restaurant is an attempt to loosen people up, make people laugh, and give everyone a chance to enjoy their delicious food (especially dessert)!

Colbi and I split one of their infamous Mile High Peanut Butta Pie's and it was TO. DIE. FOR. delicious.  Seriously, this is the best peanut butter dessert I have E.V.E.R. eaten, and it was HUGE!  
Colbi and I couldn't even finish our piece.
(Well, we could have; but we would have been miserably full afterwards, so we didn't.)

Beautiful downtown Boston.

Mike's Pastry is a local legend, a national treasure, and is known for its cannoli.  
We ended up buying four cannoli (Don't worry, two were for Colbi to bring home to Brad.  We weren't THAT greedy...especially after our Mile High Peanut Butta Pie for lunch!): strawberry, chocolate chip, pumpkin spice, and pistachio.  
Of the two I tried, the pistachio was the best.  I would be in serious trouble if I lived too close to this place!

Before we left to head back to the hotel, Colbi snapped one more picture in front of the Christmas tree.  

I had an absolutely amazing time with Colbi in Cape Cod and Boston.  I feel so blessed to have several amazing friends in my life, of which, Colbi is one.  We share so many interests, and have so much fun when we are together.
I can't wait to do it again!

Until then, I do have a new book series to keep me company.  

I finished reading the second book in The Mortal Instruments series on the plane to Boston, and am starting the third book today (there will be six books total, only five have been published so far).  The movie version of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones comes out in August 2013.  Colbi is going to start reading the series soon, so who knows, maybe BOTH The Hunger Games trilogy and The Mortal Instruments will be our new series to enjoy together!

Question of the Day:

Have you ever been to the Boston area?  If so, what did you think?  Did you like the city?  Did you have a fun time exploring?!

Ally and Bo

November 12, 2012

Weekend in the Mountains with Mom

All of the recent changes in my life have left my calendar relatively wide open for the month of November.  I recognize that this sort of "time off" might not ever happen again.  With that said, I've been really trying to make the most of this time by investing in my own yoga practice, substituting whenever I can, cooking up a storm, and taking time off to visit friends and family.  In fact, just this past weekend my Mom and I met up in Blue Ridge, GA for a long weekend together.  (Note: My Mom's side of the family owns a house in the mountains, and it is the perfect place for a FREE fall getaway.)  The timing worked out perfectly for both of us (a rare thing indeed), and we couldn't wait to have a few days of relaxation and uninterrupted mother/daughter time together.

Lola decided to come along for the trip, so on Thursday morning we loaded up my new car and started the 7 1/2 hour drive up to Blue Ridge.  It took her a while, but eventually Lola found a way to get comfortable in the floorboard of the passenger side seat.  From this position, it doesn't seem like dogs can get a "crick in their neck"...

When we arrived around 3:00PM the sun was shining, and the day was simply resplendent.

Here's a peek down the driveway from the cabin.  
Just look at all those fall colors: red, orange, yellow, green, brown, grey, white, and more!  

Here's a view of the side of the house...I could have sworn I took a pick of the front, but I guess I didn't.
Oh well, you'll just have to imagine how gorgeous it is.

Since I decided to bring Lola along for the trip, my Mom decided to bring her dog, Annie Mae, as well.  Annie Mae, as sweet as she is, is VERY shy and skiddish; and while she is wonderful with most people (once she warms up to them), she doesn't have a lot of experience with - or exposure to - other dogs.

With that said, their introduction didn't go so well.  

As much as Lola tried, Annie Mae just was NOT interested in being friends.  In the end, we ended up having to keep them separated the entire weekend.  Our solutions were either to:
  • have Annie Mae in the crate while Lola roamed around freely;
  • have Lola in the crate while Annie Mae roamed around freely;
  • put Annie Mae downstairs while Lola remained upstairs; or
  • keep Annie Mae on her leash while they both roamed around freely.

We tried and we tried to keep them both unleashed and free simultaneously, but it just didn't work out.  As loving as she is to me and other people, Annie Mae just would NOT make friends with Lola.  Oh well, maybe Lola's upcoming visit over the holidays will do the trick! (Hey, I can hope, can't I?!)

On Friday morning, after eating breakfast in the cabin, Mom and I decided to head into town.  Our first stop was Mercier Orchards.  When we first arrived, we both picked out a bag of apples to take home.  There were over a dozen different kinds of apples to choose from; but in the end Mom chose a bag of Yates apples, and I went with the Winsap variety.

If you like apples, then you would love this place!

They even had tastings so that you could try out all of the apple varieties.
It's amazing how different one apple can taste from another.
They're each so unique.


While apples are certainly Mercier Orchards specialty, they also make a wide variety of other products including:
  • apple butters;
  • fruit jams and jellies;
  • chutney's;
  • barbecue sauces;
  • hot sauces;
  • syrups;
  • apple cider;
  • honey;
  • candles; and
  • so much more that I can't even remember it all!

I thought that their honey display was really cute and clever!

For lunch, Mom and I ate in the Mercier Orchards cafe.  We split 1/2 of a pimento cheese sandwich and vegetable soup.  The sandwich was delicious, and having just 1/4 of a sandwich each was perfect because the pimento cheese was wonderfully rich.  

Honestly, I think we both could have drank a vat of just the broth.  
It was THAT delicious!

Mom saying "Yummmmm"!

Of course, we couldn't possibly have left without sampling an amazing homemade dessert...or two.  
Mom ended up settling on a mini apple fritter, and I chose a strawberry rhubarb pie.  
Thankfully, we were both generous enough to share portions of our delicacies!   

After sampling them both, I'm not sure which one I preferred.  
They were both wonderful, but also very different.  
The pie was sweeter, so perhaps better for a traditional dessert.  Whereas the fritter was sweet, but not so much so that it couldn't be eaten for breakfast with a decadently rich decaf coffee.  
Hmmm...that would be so good!

I found several gifts for Bo and I's family; and after a couple of hours, Mom and I decided that it was time to head home and check on Lola and Annie Mae.

Lola posing SO pretty for the camera.

Such a pretty, pretty girl.

We spent the rest of Friday afternoon/evening at home walking the dogs, cooking in, watching a Hallmark holiday movie, and heading to bed early.  
It was perfect.

On Saturday morning, after eating a hearty breakfast, Mom and I decided to take the dogs for a hike.  
There are so many wonderful trails within 5-10 miles of the cabin, that we just chose one of the closest ones and headed out.

The trail itself was absolutely gorgeous.

We got there early, before any other hikers were on the trail:
such precious moments in the company of God's creation.

If we had chosen to do the entire Benton Mackaye Trail, it would have been 10.4 miles round trip.  
Well, we weren't quite up for that; so we decided to walk about a mile and a half in, and then turned around and walked back out.  
We took our time, and in the end we hiked for about an hour and a half.  

Mother/Puppy Daughter love.

Sunlight through the trees.

I'm not sure what my mom was trying to capture here, but I actually like this "accidental" picture.
I think that I was trying to make Lola "sit", but it turns out that sometimes candid shots are better than posed ones.
Go figure.

Sunlight through the trees.
So bright.
So beautiful.

Hugging trees (i.e. tree huggers) ;)

Lola saying: Hurry up, Mommy!

On Saturday night - the last night of our getaway - Mom and I whipped up an absolutely salivatingly delicious meal.  It was amazing.  Here was the line-up:

"Until Next Time" dinner:
Mom's garden purple hull peas
Mom's garden turnip greens
Frances' hoe cakes (an old family recipe)
Sliced tomato w/ Ranch dressing

It just doesn't get any better than that, in my opinion.

Be patient with me over the next month and a half!  

I leave Wednesday for another long weekend trip (not returning until Sunday), but I will post when I get back.  Then Thanksgiving will be here (not 100% sure of our plans yet), and then the movers will be here to pack our house and start the official move to Whidbey!
Like I said, ch-ch-ch-changes are headed our way!

WHEW - I'm a little tired (but super excited) already!

Question of the Day:

Do you (or did you) ever take one-on-one trips with one of your parents?  If so, I would love to hear about some of your favorite memories from those trips in the "Comment" section directly below?!

Ally and Bo