Today's THE Day!!

Everybody stop what you're doing! Get ready to stand up and shout!

Andrew got a job!! It's true!! He made it through two rounds of interviews, surpassed all the other applicants, and was offered a position! He accepted the job and started TO-DAY!!

Okay, stop yelling and jumping and check out the website of Andrew's new employer.
Note: Whatever you do, do NOT click "Skip Intro", you will miss the harmonious, glorious, phenomenal song and be directed to more important, but less entertaining information.

(Turn your volume on). This is our new favorite song! We love it. It's music to our ears. Warmth in our hearts. And yes, it's money in the bank! I think my favorite musical genre is "Mens A Capella." Is that allowed? Cause I'm serious. (Remember this A Capella obsession?)

There are actually two organizations he'll be working for in Pawtucket, referred to by locals as, The Bucket. One is at the tourism council and the other is a community development corporation (CDC). He's not doing architecture per se, but he is at least using one of his two master's degrees, urban planning.

He'll be working to improve the neighborhoods, create safe affordable housing, revitalize the community, and promote economic development and tourism. It will be a great experience for Andrew and introduce him to lots of people. If you need to find Andrew over the next 10 months he'll be busy making the Bucket more walkable, attractive, and safe.

That's about all I know for now, I'll keep you updated as he figures out what his job entails. Maybe I'll even dedicate a week to highlighting great aspects of Pawtucket. I'll call it something like "The Best Kept Secrets of the Bucket." [Que Blackstone Valley quartet again.]

In the meantime, basically picture us doing...

A lot of this:

A little of this:


Some of this:Photobucket

Lots of this:Photobucket

A little more of this:Photobucket

All the time. This:Photobucket

And if we want to take a little jog down memory lane we'll remember this from last year. Some call it The Adventure of the Century, we simply call it, Fate.

This is Pawtucket, my friends. This is Andrew proudly embracing Pawtucket one year ago.

Thankful for the Bucket,



Recipe of the Week

Chili (Taco Soup)

  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  • 1 pkg ranch dressing
  • 1 lb ground beef (ground turkey)
  • 2 cups rice
  • Chicken bouillon to taste (2 tablespoons)
  • Tortilla chips

  1. Brown beef/turkey.
  2. Stir beans, corn, beef/turkey, taco seasoning, and ranch together in a large pot.
  3. Simmer 20 minutes or until thoroughly warmed.
  4. Cook rice and bouillon as directed.
  5. Pour chili over some rice in a bowl. Eat with tortilla chips (and a spoon when necessary).
  6. Feel free to sprinkle cheese or sour cream on top.
It's one of my favorite dishes! Enjoy!



The End.

Amidst our usual dinner chatter Andrew and I discussed our days, talked about the crazy people he encountered on the bus, refined items for our registry, and shared in our dislike for endings. I had been thinking yesterday morning about how much I hate when things end. And Andrew had mentioned at dinner that he was coming to terms with the end of his youth with all this wedding planning. We then went on a depressing tirade about all the endings that we hate. I'm not sure at what point it sounded like a good idea to make a post out of it, but I plan to redeem it by promptly posting tomorrow so you don't have to see this everyday for the next two weeks as you check my blog for an update:) You can thank me later.

I don't like that time at the end of the day between 7:30 and bed time. It's as if night just haunts me and lies to me and makes me feel as though I'm already out of time to keep me from being productive with the numerous hours I actually have left.

Sometimes I hate the end of a good book or a good movie. If it's good, I never want it to end. Especially when it's anticlimactic. I walk around feeling like there is something missing. Something unfinished. Incomplete.

Or there is the disdain for the end of life. I don't know if I will ever be able to accept death. It's so permanent and sad. That's the worst ending of them all.

There's the end of relationships--simple friendships or romantic ones. Sometimes it's an obvious, abrupt end. Other times a few weeks passed, then months, then years, and then at some point you realize that it's over. You are not friends anymore. And that's strange.

Then there's the end of life chapters. That's what I'm really disliking now. Putting everything into a mental box with a label, "Childhood," "High School," "College," "London," "Grad School," "Illinois," etc. It's silly really because let's face it, they've been over for a while. I haven't stepped onto the high school football field to cheer in seven years, but everything happened so slowly that it took me a long time to realize it's over. My next role in that type of setting will be as a parent.

There's the obvious, and much lighter: end of the weekend. No one likes to say goodbye to the days and nights of relaxing, socializing, and dreaming.

And what about the end of plant life? Flora, if you will. No one likes to see their bouquet of flowers wither and die. It always happens sooner than you'd like or expect.

Then there's the one most currently despised. Andrew's villain. The end of summer. Fall. The Sunday evening pit in his stomach when he realizes it's 4:30pm, pitch black out, and time for a new week to start. It's cram time. Squeeze in anything you didn't get to do yet. Fun is over. o-v-e-r.

The funniest thing about this fall-induced pity party is that I love change. Right after I thought about all the types of endings I hate, I remembered how much I love change. How is that? It seems paradoxical. Change is inevitably the ending of one thing and the starting of another, but I love it. I love it's newness, it's excitement, it's freedom from boredom. My only guess is that change can come in slowly so that I hardly realize one thing is ending and another is beginning. I guess that's why we get along so well--change and I. It dupes me.

So in honor of this week's big official ending--summer--and the start of his wonderful brother, the favorite child--fall--I'll be posting my favorite chili recipe tomorrow! It promises to keep you warm on a chilly, dark, fall evening!

Go embrace change. Maybe even an ending or two.



Pruning, Nurturing, & Enjoying

Andrew gardens at the summer cottage of a family who lives in Syracuse, NY.


He worked in landscaping for many summers in high school and college and has the knack for gardening. His mom gardens too and she taught him a lot. He's handy--he knows what to do and how to do it, but he didn't really want to revert back to his high school summer job. And who can blame him?

When the economy turned sour last year right before he was about to graduate early from grad school, he made lemonade with life's lemons. Determined to stay busy and productive while he waited to find a job, he began landscaping. He mows an elderly lady's lawn, gardens in Portsmouth, and even works on a millionaire's yard sometimes! [We think that is so cool]. He is such a disciplined person and a really hard worker--maybe it'll rub off on me someday. I'm proud of his motivation, determination, skill, and accomplishments. I'm a little jealous of his sun-kissed skin, lean muscle mass, and endless hours of pondering life while working in a garden. And I'm thankful for the perks he's gotten us:D


The owners of the Cottage by the Bay (I just named their house-it seems fitting) visit a few times in the spring and then spend the entire month of August at the cottage. On their visit in May they invited us over to meet us in person. Okay, let's be honest, I tagged along. They wanted to meet the gardener, Andrew.

Miss Helpful planting impatiens at the cottage:

The family visited again in July and they invited us back for a 4th of July party where they praised Andrew for his hard work, green thumb, and horticultural achievements in the garden. They also fed us the most incredible food--wild grilled salmon, delectable steaks (and I don't even like steak), amazing homemade salsa, and fancy wine. [Note: the wine probably wasn't even that fancy, but they taught us about sniffing and wafting and tasting and aerating and savoring and that felt pretty fancy.] We learned to play Bocce ball, ate way too much food, and enjoyed a wonderful evening of conversation.


Before they headed back to New York for the winter, they invited us to a final hurrah party in August. It was such a fun and relaxing evening hanging out in the garden and listening to "real adults" (we don't count yet) talk about fine wines, fancy foods, traveling, and other interesting facts. They all have such incredible stories. We all do. One lady was from England, another from France, a few were professors at Harvard or other nearby universities, one gentleman brought his French horn with him and played it for us after dinner. It seemed surreal; almost like a movie or Europe, at the very least. People in America rarely sit around after dinner, in a garden, listening to someone play the horn, and relax. If for only one night, life was slow-paced and allowed to linger.

Our evenings at the Cottage on the Bay proved to be some of our summer highlights. I don't have much more of a story than that, but maybe that is the story. Maybe the story is not a funny moment or a harrowing event, but simply remembering that it's the simple, ordinary things in life that are life. That make up our stories; our life story. The food. The conversations. The gentle glances. The subtle laughter. The relationships. The thousands of little blessings each day. The small moments that often go overlooked are actually the memories. These are the things to file in your vault. And that should be enough.


And if that's not enough, maybe this is: A hibiscus the size of your head. The culmination of working hard and playing hard--pruning in spring, nurturing it throughout the summer, a little water, a little sun, and sit back and watch it blossom. Not even growing up in Florida have I seen a hibiscus so large! Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

Stopping to smell the hibiscus,


We All Forget Things Sometimes

I received a text yesterday from my favorite dramatic counterpart. We like to exaggerate and be extra dramatic with each other sometimes. It just makes for a little added excitement or at the least, provides ammunition to tease each other.

"Arm...so...tired. Still...no...peaks. Not...gonna...make...it." the text read. I paused, "Huh? What is he talking about?" Then I realized that he was making the whipped cream frosting for a cake for that evening's potluck, by hand.

[Light bulb] "Wait!" I chuckled and immediately responded: "Hand. Mixer. Use it or lose it, baby."

Now I realize that six months ago this would have been completely acceptable behavior. However, we made a trip to Target specifically to find a cheap temporary hand mixer just for this type of use.

No response.

He assures me that he remembered about the hand mixer the whole time, but I have my doubts ;)

In his defense, we are all forgetful sometimes. For instance, I like to send myself email reminders throughout the day of things to do or read later in the evening when I get off of work. Somehow, in the 3 seconds delay between hitting send from one email account and seeing the little Gmail envelope pop up on my browser window I forget that I emailed myself. That's right. My short-term memory is not so good, apparently. A little piece of my heart gets excited and then promptly dies when I feel the shame of realizing that I emailed myself. Sometimes I forget things too.



Sunflower Festival

Where does the time go? Honestly. I'm not sure how it happens. In fact, I'm not sure what happens. I finish work around 5pm. I never manage to get in bed before midnight, yet somehow, somehow, the evenings fly by and I get nothing accomplished that I wanted to. Such as blogging. Well, without further excuses: the sunflower post. Better late than never, right?!


As I had previously mentioned (over a month ago--so sorry!), Andrew and I embarked on an adventure to Griswold, Connecticut to visit the sunflower festival. I had never seen a sunflower field in person and Andrew loves all things sunflower.

Also, I should mention that I absolutely love photography. Andrew enjoys it too. For Christmas last year he got me an advanced digital camera. It's still a point and shoot, but it has some manual features available too. We thought it would be a good stepping stone to prepare for getting an SLR someday. So before we went to the sunflower festival we studied all day to learn about camera settings. We even quizzed each other.

"Okay. So imagine that there isn't much light and the objects aren't in motion, what would you do?" I inquired. "Well, we'd want to slow down the shutter speed and lower the ISO," he responded. "Okay, good. Now tell me what happens if you increase the aperture..."

You get the drift--two nerdy kids who like to learn, want to understand photography, and are not ashamed to act like they're back in high school and doing some last minute cramming before a pop quiz. We were loving it. We had high hopes of refining our photography skills and thought the sunflower field would be the perfect laboratory. We even searched how to use aperture on our quest to capture the elusive "bokeh". Or some other amazing photograph.

Here are some of the sites we studied from:
MckMama's Tutorial
The Pioneer Woman's Tips
A little help from Lolli

We don't mess around. We're talking studied! We didn't get the dream shot we were hoping for, or really anything that amazing, but as they say, "Rome was not built in a day." However, we did enjoy an incredibly scenic drive through western Rhode Island and a little of Connecticut, we saw acres of sunflowers, went on a hay ride past pigs and free range grass fed cows, we supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation, we played with the camera, and we ate locally made ice cream! What more could you ask for?

Here is our day in pictures:

Dressed for a hayride, obviously.

Adorable Calves and Cows

Feeding the Bovine

Sunflowers As Big As Your Head

Acres and Acres of Sunflowers

So excited to see the sunflowers, even if they were end-of-the-season-wilty. Look at those pitiful things. It's like they knew they were about to be ground up for cattle feed.

Farm Fresh Ice Cream

Farm Fresh Consumer

City Girl Lovin' The Farm

That's all for now. I promise not to be gone so long next time! I promise.