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Anniversaries and After

This weekend recently marked the first full year since my grandmother has been gone.

I keep seeing little signs of her. Mostly hummingbirds. They were her favorite, and they’ve been popping up everywhere I look. I saw one in the form of a hand-felted ornament, and I brought her home with me. She watches over my bedside table now.

I’ve seen her in my apartment. I have a gorgeous hand mirror that used to belong to her, and occasionally, I’ll hold it up and swear I might have seen her reflection instead of mine.

Some of her earrings hang up on the bathroom wall, and sometimes I catch her gently putting them on, a glint of gold in the incandescent light.

Her old wooden spoon feels warm in my hand as I stir bread dough in the kitchen, and I can hear her voice above me, guiding me through her cheese biscuit-making lessons.

As I was sorting through a stack of old birthday cards, congratulations, and letters, I came across a little envelope with my name spelled out in slanting capital script. As I pulled out the contents, I found a recipe in my grandmother’s hand, a small newspaper clipping, and a short note. Signed Grammy. With oodles and boodles and forty kidoodles of love.

Each time I remember her is another moment I have to heal. The ache always requires healing. Every single time. I know it will never end.

But I don’t want it to. The ache is what I have left.

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Asheville!

I love Asheville. I love the smallness and the bigness. I love the local scene. I love the mountains and the neighborhoods. I love all the houses. I love the art.

I just had the chance to take the boyfriend here on his first trip to this beautiful city, and since we only had one full day to see everything, we did…everything.

  • Battlecat Coffee
  • Firestorm Books
  • Whist
  • Flora
  • River Arts District
  • White Duck Taco Shop
  • Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar
  • Asheville Bee Charmer
  • Malaprops
  • French Broad Chocolate Lounge
  • Rosetta’s Kitchen and Buchi Bar
  • Downtown Books and News
  • Urban Orchard Cider Co.

9.1 miles, 19,394 steps later, and we are exhausted. But so happy. The highlights were definitely Flora (a flower shop that doubles as a tea room and coffee shop), White Duck (the tacos were amazing and the line to order was super quick), Downtown Books (an incredible and affordable collection of books and zines with a friendly staff), and Urban Orchard (nothing like local hard cider to end the day).

We booked a room through Airbnb at this perfect West Asheville house. The owner has been very nice, but we haven’t seen her much. We kept passing her on the way in and out while we were there. Her neighborhood is less than a mile walk from Battlecat, and the weather this weekend was perfect for seeing the sights. I swear everyone here has a vegetable garden planted in their front lawn, and the houses are all dripping in character.

We spent the morning in West Asheville and the evening downtown. I’d say, we did a pretty good job covering all the bases while getting a good feel for the city. I don’t want to leave!

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Autumn Bucket List

  1. Appreciate the leaves changing color
  2. Invest in more linen clothing (some may say that’s a summer thing but I say who cares)
  3. Listen to more podcasts (and pretend I’m in Southern France)
  4. Bake a pumpkin pie
  5. Find fresh hazelnuts (ideally for the pie, but probably just for myself)
  6. Try all the pastries at my new favorite (local) bakery (4 down, so many more to go)
  7. Go on more hikes
  8. Attempt a sourdough bread recipe
  9. Listen to Nick Drake’s whole repertoire (Pink Moon anyone?)
  10. Buy more wool socks
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Changing the routine

The place where I work has a very tumultuous schedule. My boss tries to give us something set in stone, but there are new people cycling in constantly, and my days off are never the same. I may have Monday and Saturday off one week, and that could change to Tuesday and Wednesday the next. And yet, even this small variety feels like a cycle.

Each evening is always a quick exchange of:

“What do you want for dinner?”

“I don’t know… I guess we should run by the grocery store.”

“Want to go on another bike ride tonight?”

“Yeah! Want to watch another episode of that new show tonight?”

“Sure.”

And the things that we do are certainly not dull. Or bad. But they are usually the same. I have come to appreciate routine and constancy. I love coming home at the end of every day to the same person, the same cat, the same kitchen with the same food in the fridge. I could eat (and have eaten) the same breakfast of fried eggs and toast with strawberry jam each morning, with a cup of hot water and lemon to drink.

But there’s also something to be said for changing the pace a little. For trying something new in the evening after another long day at the same job.

The other night, the boyfriend and I went to our local indie movie theatre. They play a lot of movies that don’t run in the popular film circuit (think My Neighbor Totoro over the new Avengers movie), so we try to keep up with the films they’re showing because there’s usually something new we haven’t heard of or something we’ve been meaning to watch that definitely won’t be at the other theatres. We recently watched The Big Sick there and loved it!

So the night before last, we did a quick search and saw the film Lucky was showing, and after reading a brief synopsis and checking Rotten Tomato’s review, we decided to give it a try, and we were not disappointed. It was a sweet film with a very likable main character named Lucky on a journey of spiritual self discovery, grappling with the realities of age and loneliness. It reminded me a lot of my own grandfather, so it was an immediate success with me. With minimal dialogue and no action scenes, it caters more towards someone looking for an introspective film.

Changing our usual evening routine was as simple as picking the movies over a bike ride down our favorite greenway, but I think it made a big difference. The boyfriend and I have both been feeling like our routine had gotten in the way of our own enjoyment, so it was a nice reminder that it doesn’t take a lot to switch things up a little.

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My October Reading List

I’m sure you all have noticed that I love books. And ever since I got my library card, I’ve been reading a lot of new books, particularly ones that I probably never would have picked up at a book store. This all stems from the majority of the conversations I’m having these days – about future plans and how I can make those dreams into a reality starting small and starting now. I envision a healthier, more holistic lifestyle for myself.

So I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve been reading because they make a lot of sense to me, and it’s been refreshing seeing my thoughts written out in someone else’s words. Like I’m not the only person who is questioning the things I’ve been told and taught. I promise I’m not one of those “crunchy, granola hippies.” I just want to be able to support my local community and in turn, supplement my own well being in a way that I can feel good about.

  • The Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden, edited by Thomas C. Cooper
  • Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground up, by Daphne Miller
  • Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper, by C. Marina Marchese
  • Compost this Book!, by Thomas Christopher and Marty Asher
  • The Wildlife Garden: Planning Backyard Habitats, by Charlotte Seidenberg
  • The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan
  • Herbal Tea Gardens, by Marietta Marshall Marcin
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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey Teriyaki Sauce

No one turns down Brussels sprouts in my house. I know they often get a bad rap, but I think these tiny green sprouts are making a well-deserved come back, and with this recipe, I think you’ll see why they’re becoming one of my favorite things to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Brussels sprouts (about 2 heaping servings)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3 tbs unsweetened peanut butter
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar, or tarragon vinegar, etc)
  • 3-4 tbs olive oil (separated)
  • 3 tbs of your favorite teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4-1/2 c dried cranberries
  • Half an orange, cut into small pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the Brussels sprouts, then cut into halves. Toss in 1-2 tbs of olive oil and arrange on a roasting pan. Flavor with salt and pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder to taste. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until tender and golden brown.
  2. Fill a small bowl with hot water, and place the dried cranberries in the water to re-hydrate while the sprouts are cooking. Cut up your orange and set aside.
  3. In another medium mixing bowl, whisk the peanut butter, honey, vinegar, the remaining olive oil, and the teriyaki sauce until combined.
  4. When your sprouts are done, drain the cranberries. Toss the sprouts, cranberries, and orange slices in the bowl with sauce. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Past is past

I think there are certain lessons in this life that can be difficult to accept or learn. There are some that seem unfair or unjustified. There are others that leave us feeling sheepish because we really should have known better. 

I am dealing with the former at the moment. And my only peace comes from knowing that justice will be served correctly. I feel pretty confident about that. 

I think the most important take away from this whole ordeal is that everything has its consequences, sometimes years after the fact. 

But I know that I am stronger than this. I have a huge support system around me, and I think that the right thing will happen in the end. I’m certainly looking forward to getting this part of my life behind me. 

If only the past could always remain in the past. 

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Greek Fest

Every September, the local Greek Orthodox Church puts on a Greek Festival. It’s pretty small compared to other cities, I’m sure, but the one here in Knoxville holds a special place in my heart. One of my old friends from high school and his family is always involved with the traditional dances. And I’ve volunteered there myself doing the face painting. 


A few years ago, the church building itself burned, and they lost many of their relics and handcrafted mosaics – the ceiling was the most severe loss, the whole thing being a large mosaic piece done by hand. 

I’ve loved seeing the city come together to support this community, and as the years go on, the funds from this festival have helped support the repairs of this church building. 

Not to mention, it’s just a lot of fun. 

All of the dads and sons are out grilling lamb and chicken for the gyros, and all the grandmothers are insides selling their homemade treats (tha baklava is to die for).

 

My family has gone almost every single year, and since I missed last year, I was really looking forward to going again. And it definitely didn’t disappoint!