New Blog On the Block.

Can I please shout-out to a new blog on the block that I am particularly endeared to?

Don't mind if I do...

So recently, my husband decided to start a tumblr blog. This is why: He runs the residential side of a big painting company. No, he doesn't get to paint (outside of the confines of our own humble abode that is), but takes care of just about every other part of the business. One thing he loves about his job is that he gets to meet with people in their homes, daily. Most days he visits 3-4 homes and meets 3-4 families/individuals, all with their own stories, quirks, styles, pets, and backgrounds. Needless to say, he always comes home with GREAT stories.

The other thing, he is kind of a people person. And people are kind of "Adam people." Everyone that meets him (no matter the setting) typically feels super comfortable with him and super open with him. This means, not only are these families customers, but by the end, they seem to be his best friends. He has brought home things like wine, chili, skin products...from customers. Has been given samples of their special bourbon collections. Even invited to barbecues at their homes. After like, 1.5 hours! Seriously.

Lastly, Adam is an excellent storyteller and after experiencing (and hearing) enough of the crazy stories that work brings his way, he decided (and I supported) that he would start a blog to tell stories, share thoughts that his daily interactions provoke, and also, document misc fun that is either related to the world of work, 

or not. 

Oh yeah, and he's a super creative writer. 

If you like my blog, you should definitely check his out. He is my other half and awesome counterpart and I think you may really like his too. You can link to it from mine. See it over there on the side? It's called A Brush With: Life.

Ok, shout-out over. But seriously check it out!


Today, I will wear a new hat.

Usually, when I'm not wearing my student hat or my wife hat, I wear my TA hat. Teaching Assistant, that is. But when duty calls and the professor is out of town, I get to wear my Professor-for-the-day hat. And today, duty is calling. So in I will go to a classroom full of Duke undergraduates (who are undoubtedly already on Spring Break in their minds...) and give a lecture about domestic violence. 

Great topic huh? 

But, the positive is that I love to teach others. I always have. And this is my first pretty grown-up teaching opportunity. A college class. At Duke. And as nervous as I should be, more than anything I'm excited. Because, it's great to share your knowledge and passions with others (not that I'm particularly knowledgeable or passionate about violence). And, at the end of the day, they are the ones with the mid-term on Friday, not me. 

Any last minute advice from the teachers out there?

I'll be sure to report back on how it goes!


Hive Five For Friday

It's Friday again! And that means it's time to link up with Lauren guessed it!!


Here are my top five things from this week:

I finally found my bridesmaids dress for my best friend's wedding! Remember this post where I elicited all of your help? Well y'all sent me so many awesome links and photos, and after checking out several of them, I stumbled across this one at one of my favorite sites:

Gorgeous right? For a rustic Charlestonian summer wedding? I ordered it two days ago and it arrived on my front porch yesterday. It got the thumbs up from the husband, so it's a keeper. Hooray! What a relief.

All of my favorite things were on sale for $1 at Kroger this week: 
$1 brocoli, 
$1 mangos, 
$1 avocados, 
$1 yellow and orange bell peppers! 
Have you ever heard of so many good deals all in one trip? I heart my Kroger. 

I treated myself to a box of these delicious cookies. I was feeling jealous of all the girl scout cookies I ordered for Adam. Thank you Jen for turning me on to these fourth year! And for the many boxes you've shared with me.

Dinner at Nanataco with fun friends! Didn't hear about Nanataco? Read here!

I'm just so stinking proud of my team for beating Florida State on the road last night. We stole the number 1 position in the ACC away from them (and got revenge for that horrible loss we suffered at their hands in Cameron...)!! Second biggest win of the season. (So far, that is...) So proud I could just squeeze them all.

Lots of high-fives coming up in the next two weeks. Can't wait to report! In the meantime, I hope you all have fabulous weekends.  



My husband has quirks. 

Does your husband have quirks?

I'm not sure if I believe you if you said no your husband has no quirks.

All husbands have them. So do all wives.

Here is one of Adam's most amusing quirks: Throwing food away. Perfectly good food. I'm not sure where or when he developed it, but Adam has this weird phobia of old food. I looked up a comprehensive list of "food phobias" and this is not on there. The closest two I found were Necrobphobia, the fear of dead things and Toxophobia, the fear of accidentally being poisoned. I'm not sure if either of these really get at the root of his fear though.

No joke, tonight he threw away sour cream that doesn't expire for another month. Just because he felt like he had seen it one too many times, so it was probably super old. When I questioned him on it (we needed sour cream for dinner) he said, um, I think I saw a weird speck in it. Yes, I dug it out of the trash bin to inspect this speck. There was in fact, no speck. Nice try Ad.

Later, I opened the trash to throw away my tea bag and found half a bottle of (again, not even close to expired) salsa. Not just salsa, but this really nice (ahem, more expensive) salsa that I bought him as a treat (he loves salsa...). It looked good, smelled good, was still within expiration...and there it was in the trash bin. I pulled it out and looked at him with complete disbelief and asked him what was it that the salsa did to secure its fate? Was it in cahoots with the sour cream? Who knows. 

Maybe I need to change the dinner menu for tomorrow tonight, slow-cook tacos. Hold the sour cream and salsa?? Eh, no thanks.

When I make salads he often asks, "So, when did you buy these greens again?" I swear if a fresh unopened gallon of milk looked at him the wrong way, it would be dumped just on principle. 

It's no wonder the squirrels make a home in our trash can outside and feast on all of our good-for-another-month food. Feeding the squirrels, what good humanitarians we are...

To be honest, I think it's the tiniest bit endearing. Otherwise, I wouldn't be writing a whole post about it. And, it's one of those things I never really knew about him until we lived together. And I love those things. And I love that they still pop up all the time. I know him so well, and yet so little. What a fabulous feeling. Do you still have things like that? How long before they stop popping-up? I hope a long while.

Now let's just hope he doesn't start blogging about my quirks...


Foodie Town Love

Here is a fun fact about Durham: Durham is a foodie town! Don't believe me?

Read this.

Or this.

Or this!

Or, you can just trust me on it. Last year it was on NYTimes top places to go list, mostly because of well, FOOD! (They left off the Duke Basketball factor, in order to maintain neutrality, but we all know it helps too). Now, i may (do) still complain about leaving Charlottesville to live in Durham, but if there is one thing that a city can do to steal my heart, it is feed me well and feed me local. I guess that's two things. But it can be summed up as: FEED ME! I love food. And don't most of us? 

Durham has great food at every level: They have restaurants that fancy people travel to Durham from all over to eat at, that serve delicious, extravagant, expensive food. You know, those kinds of places. (This is the only one where we've eaten.) They also have really good middle-ground places: Kinda formal, but still affordable and fun. Also, delicous. Remember this date and this brunch? They were at Watt's Grocery. One of our faves!

And then there are the good-ole common folk places where you can find good, affordable, still very creative grub. Foster's Market and Parker and Otis are two places that I get excited to take out-of-towners. They are the places that give me that proud-of-my-town sentiment. Do you have those places in your town?

Lastly, Durham has a sweet farmer's market. But, more than that, the town of Durham has good relationships with the surrounding farmers. There are lots of CSAs in the area. Nearly all of the restaurants try to serve locally grown and seasonal food. The con: The menus are constantly changing so you can rarely have your "favorite" dish twice. Pro: The chefs are incredibly creative and constantly expand your horizons. 

Have I convinced you to come yet?

The food scene was/is one of my favorite things about Charlottesville. They've definitely got some good-grubbin going on there too. But, I think Durham might be even more of a foodie town. And I love that! 

To wrap up I'll say that last night Adam and I got to try a new place that we have been dying to try: Nanataco. One of our favorite (special occasion) restaurants is Nana's. I'm talking birthday dinners location. But right next door they have a casual, inexpensive restaurant called Nanataco. We heard great things. We had a date night with friends planned. So,

We went.
We ate.
We loved

The meat choices included things like garlic slow-cooked beef, house smoked duck, rotisserie chicken, braised local hog jowls?, house spicy chorizo, and of course, your chili rubbed pork butt. Not to mention they have FISH TACOS and $5 Margaritas! Let's just say we had a good Fat Tuesday. Steph Glover, just sayin, but I think you'd LOVE this place.

The moral of the post, 

If you're ever in Durham, I'll show you what's up in the foodie world. You won't leave hungry, but you'll definitely leave happy! Or, you might just not leave at all...




My word, doesn't this life continually challenge us? Everyday there is something; constantly stretching us and forcing us to continue to grow as individuals. Almost every week my church teaches something that challenges me. Like really shake-up-the-foundation-of-who-I-am kind of challenge. And after being rattled for a day or two, I usually forget, until the next thing arises.

Well, it's Tuesday, church was Saturday, and I'm still chewing on this one. Or is it chewing on me...I'm not sure but regardless, something's being chewed to pieces by this. This week, one of our pastors mentioned the concept of minutes.

He said something like: "The way you spend your minutes, is how you'll spend your hours, and it's ultimately how you'll spend your days, years, and lives." Well gosh, when you put it that way...It made me start wondering if the way I choose to spend my minutes really aligns with what I claim to value in my life.  

Some things I claim to value: Working as if I'm working for Christ. Being grateful, acknowledging that everything I have is a gift. Loving others the way Christ loved me. Living a missional life. Serving the most needy. Investing in relationships. Investing in my relationship with my heavenly Father. Being fit and healthy. Showing random kindness for others. Respecting and loving my husband and investing in my marriage.

Um, but how often do I choose to spend my minutes doing things that do not reflect these values at all? And how can I expect the big picture of my life to look any different than the million little pictures that make it up? 

How can I expect the big picture of my life to be surrendered to Christ, when in the minutes I often choose my computer over my Bible? 

How can I expect the big picture of my life to be missional, when usually I prefer just to spend time with Adam rather than be out investing in others? 

How can I expect the big picture of my life to be respecting and loving my husband with grace, when I just want to get the last word in and ensure that he knows what he did wrong? 

How can I expect the big picture of my life to be working as if I'm working for Christ, when I let my work stress me out--usually because I am searching for the approval and respect of humans.

How can I expect the big picture of my life to be gratefulness and contentment, when I allow discontentment and envy to determine my attitudes so often?

These are what my minutes often look like. And so basically, this is what my life often looks like. Maybe it doesn't look very much at all like the things I claim to value. Maybe it doesn't look very much at all like what I think it looks like. Maybe this is where God's grace and mercy come into play in my life, big time.

What do your minutes look like? Do they represent what you want your life to look like? It's just a thought for you to chew on. Or maybe it will chew on you. Or something. 



It's just one of those days when everything on my mind is random mumbo jumbo, and I need to dump it somewhere. What are some of those random things swishin' around in your mind lately? Here are some of mine:

-I really do not understand hash tags. And I definitely don't feel hip enough to use them. Who started that anyway? And who decided what it was going to mean? 

-Yesterday Adam and I went to the outlet malls to get a few things from Columbia that we need for our upcoming ski trip (woot!). We were so excited by the good deals that we got, that we wore some of our new gear around the house all night. Then the weirdest thing started to snow. Our first snow of the winter. Totally not expecting it, but incidentally, entirely prepared. 

-The first thing we did when we realized it was snowing was drive to WF for a cold treat. We slid part of the way there...

-Sometimes when our table is really messy, we eat on the floor. Yesterday the table was really messy. But we had a fire going and yummy burgers, so it worked out. 

Adam's camera gets blurry when he's hungry.

-I really, really, really hope that Uggs never go out of style. And if they do, I'm going to go right out of style with them.

-Getting the first round edits of your thesis back from your committee initially makes you want to throw up and/or weep. But then, if you eat some GF snickerdoodles, call your sister, mamma, and husband, and just start tackling it, you already start to feel better.

-Exodus is kind of a crazy book. Is it okay to say that? Because it is just so crazy. 

-Adam and I have still been watching our wedding video more times than any two people should watch a video of themselves. How long will this last I wonder? 

-Our friends Martha and Ian were here last weekend and introduced us to my new favorite website: Catalog Living. This lady basically uses pictures from home decor store catalogs and creates witty and hilarious captions to make make fun of them. Y'all, don't go unless you have a lot of time to waste because her humor is addicting. Here is a sneak peak though...

She also does a magazine living...don't even get me started. But,

-I bought this dress at Anthro and cannot decide whether or not I should keep it. Thoughts?

Hope my randomness didn't throw your Monday out of whack. Happy start of the week to you all. I hope it is full of random joys!


Hive-Five-For-Friday, Kind of.

Typically this Hive-Five-Friday routine is when I link up with Lauren, and tell you my top five favorites from the week. This Friday, I'm swiching it up and sharing my hive-fives from Valentines. Like I mentioned last year, Ad and I aren't V-day crazies. But we did start a fun tradition last year, which made a comeback Tuesday. Refresh your memory here, and then see what our favorite five things about V-day this year were:

1. Adam taking Cameron (my Mazda3) to get an oil change first thing in the AM. 4,000 miles day was already made.

2. My sweet friend Nikki bringing cupcakes/cookies to class for everyone. But she is so stinking-thoughtful, and brought me a tupperware full of strawberries instead. 

3. In Cameron on the way to Whole Foods for our V-day tradition WF feast, we had this conversation:

E: This is sad, but I'm just not very hungry
A: I'm not really either. What do you want to do? We could go wander around somewhere for awhile first?
E: Well, let's just go and we can just not get very much. But we still have to get gelato, k?  

This, followed by getting more food than any two people could (should?) eat:

When the cashier rung us up he asked if we needed a bag, we looked at each other with slightly embarrassed grins, and sheepishly said um, no...He began to laugh at us and made some comment like, "Oh, yeah, um, I'm starving too." 

"Haha, yeah us too..." 

And eating (almost) all of it.

4. After finishing, we decided it would take at least a 20 minute walk around the store (up and down the aisles) to prepare our tummies for gelato (because, duh, we were getting it). Ugh, looking at more food, when you're about to explode? Bad idea. We hung close to the wine section and burned some time there. At which point we decided we'd go wine-tasting in Sonoma this summer. Then we went back for gelato. We decided to go to a different cashier this time...our shame was too much. 

Mmmm, was it good.

I stole this photo from here, because we forgot to take one.

5. To end the evening we went to see a movie that both of our Washingtonian-whale-lover-selves have been dying to see. Have you heard of Big Miracle? My goodness, see it! It's so good, and is a true story. And only a little ironic that my celebrity love (ahem, John Krasinski) plays an adorable reporter, named Adam. Sigh. LOVE it. Here is the preview:

Gah! John Krasinski, whales, cold war, ALL of my favorite things. Now GO, see it!

Hope your weeks were sweet and your weekend even sweeter! Happy Friday friends!


Serving a Crowd

This past weekend was great. And I did not even share about it. But now I want to, because it was too great not to.

So, as I mentioned last Friday, 

my sister, 
brother in-law, 
friends Martha and Ian, 
and their cutest baby girl ever,

All came to stay with us. 

On top of that, my cousin Cae was in town with her man and we got to see her twice while they were here.

All of this visiting goodness meant that on Friday night we would have 8 people for dinner,

And Saturday night we would have 10. 

I'd never really cooked two back-to-back dinners for so many. I'm just starting to master the dinner-for-two-type meals. I was feeling nervous about how I would cost effectively, taste effectively, and time effectively feed all the folks who I love good meals for the weekend. After a week of talking with my mom, sister, and good friend/food blogger Allyson, I decided to go with these:

Friday: Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos, from "Chocolate Therapy." They were SO easy. You dump salsa, taco seasoning, and chicken (I added black beans too) into your slow cooker in the morning and by dinner time the chicken is falling apart and begging to be stuffed into some soft taco shells and topped with fresh avo. My tummy is growling as I write. Great for a big party, great for two. And, makes great leftovers! 

Saturday: I went with this delicious homemade Bolognese. I had eaten it before, but had never made it myself. It comes from none other than "Pastor Ryan"--a friend and guest blogger of the Pioneer Woman. I had been wanting to make it for a long time, so I finally went for it. And boy was it a good decision. We served it with some garlic-butter-danger bread and an awesome spinach salad. And vino, of course. The entire bottle that was in the sauce just wasn't going to cut it for the evening. 

For breakfasts we made cinnamon raisin buttered bagels (GrandBetty's recipe) and oatmeal. Smashed banana if you were a baby. 

But along with eating well, we also had a great time enjoying each other's company, watching Duke beat Maryland, playing games, having an impromptu tribute to Whitney Houston night (18 minutes after the news came out) which turned into a tribute to all dead singers night (Aaliyah and MJ anyone?) which also somehow included JT, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan. Lots of singing from the heart.

Hosting is so fun, particularly when you have a sweet husband to share it with. We loved spending time with so many great friends. We loved getting to play with a precious little baby all weekend. And we hated saying goodbye. Can't wait for our next chance to host this fun group...or anyone else that wants to come visit! Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend.

Can I keep her? Can I please keep her?
Love having friendlies in my kitchen!
I heart my sister.

He's a sucker for a head scratch. I think we lost him to it.

Ready for church, in our matching bow coats.

Foster's Market for Sunday brunch!

What are your go-to recipes for big groups? I really need to start building my repertoire. But tonight we are back to two, so I better start brainstorming for that...

Happy Wednesday to all! 



Remember that night? The one with all the stars. 

And that great big barn.

It was snowing when we woke up. Not the pretty kind--cold, wet, slushy, miserable snow. Which turned into cold rain. But then, something amazing happened: The clouds just kind of parted. And it was a breathtaking day. What a gift.

Remember the excitement and nerves and the gushing of happiness all day? Even though we weren't together. Because, we were about to be together. We were meeting somewhere very special. And all the people we love were coming too. Remember all those goofy friends that we had all around us? Standing with us. They represented so many phases of our life and places that we've been. They were family. Even the ones who weren't actually. 

Remember the music? The most beautiful music. It was telling the story of 

How He Loves us,
And just how Strong His Love is. 
How Deep His Love is.
How Great He is,
And how prone we are to wander.

Remember that sweet, sweet kiss? It was our first. But, not really.  

Remember the party? The food. The dancing. The laughing. The pie and gelato. The bump and the twist. It all really did happen. Even though it happened so fast. And then it ended. But that's when we noticed the stars. As we left, they gave everything that mesmerizing glow that so perfectly summed up the day.

I love to remember that night, and all the stars. 

When life as one really began.

Love you, Happy Valentine's.

(Photo by Mike Hagen)


What I Wish We'd Been Told

The other day I was talking to one of my best friends on the phone. She asked me how married life was going. Adam and I get this question all the time. It's okay. We love answering it. But nonetheless, it happens a lot.

The more I get asked, the more time I spend thinking about the answer to this question, and the more I realize that there is something I really wish more people had told me before I got married. I have a lot of friends right now who are either engaged or in serious relationships, and I hope that as they prepare for marriage they hear this too, in the midst everything else they'll hear:

Marriage is awesome. 

I mean truly, it's so good, that it's hard to even describe just how profoundly good it is.

Ok, before you all say,

"Yeah, of course you are saying that you newly-wed, honeymoon phase, naive little wife. Just wait till you face your first real hardship. Then you'll really understand that marriage is not all sweet tea and popsicles."

I just want to tell you that I don't have some kind of major misconception about what marriage is. I don't think that Adam and I have a marriage that is just better than everyone else's and therefore allows me to arrive at those conclusions. I didn't have to be married for long to realize that marriage truly can be summed up entirely by the phrase:

Dying to Self.


You HAVE to.

And, no, that's not always comfortable, fun, or easy.

But, let me rant for two seconds, and then decide whether you agree with where I'm going: I think that these days, particularly in Christian communities, there is a lot of emphasis put on making sure engaged couples know how difficult and hard marriage will be. It's like we are so afraid that they don't know what they are really committing to, and we want to save them from the shock of reality. We want to prepare them for the worst so that they won't be shaken or have unrealistic expectations. People told me this ALL the time. With completely good intentions. And I don't think they were necessarily wrong in doing so. I think it's wise for couples to enter into marriage understanding the weightiness of what it is, and the challenges that they will inevitably face. 

This is fine. 

But, I really wish that along with this, more people also emphasized how wonderful marriage was going to be. I wish more people had said, "Ooooh, Elise and Adam, you have no idea just how good this gift is. God is giving you to one another to be companions, best friends, roommates, teammates, and no other earthly relationship will ever offer you more satisfaction. Marriage, it's just the BEST."

One of my friends said something to me when I got engaged, and at the time I kind of thought it was silly. She said,

"Elise, marriage is just the best kept secret."

I thought, "Huh? Marriage isn't a secret. Everyone wants to get married right? I'm just not quite sure what she means by that."

But now, I understand exactly what she was saying to me and I wish more people had told me just what she was telling me. Marriage really is the best kept secret. And, the fact that God thought it up and decided that it was something He wanted to give to us, makes me kind of tear up and think,

Who are we that we should taste the sweetness of this gift?
Who are we that God would create such good and perfect gifts for us?

And it makes me want to treasure it and give it the weight that it deserves. And enjoy it the way God hoped we would.  

Yes, everyone should know that marriage is not all easy. I mean, we are depraved people. We are selfish. Obviously marriage will challenge all of our most human tendencies and insist that we ditch them. Quickly. Really, really quickly. 

But, as Christians we do not need to fear marriage. We have freedom from this. (Praise God!) This is one of the greatest things about allowing Christ to be the cornerstone of your marriage--you don't have to fear it. God's love is perfect, and "Perfect Love drives out fear." (1 John 4:18) 

So what I would say is, 

If God is the center and cornerstone of the marriage you are entering into, then you already have freedom from the hurts and victory over the struggles. Yes, they'll still come, but God will guide you through them. And He's already won them for you. 

Just get ready to embrace the sweetest gift you can imagine. Because marriage is good. It's so good. So just let it be.  


Hive Five For Friday

Lots of High-Five worthiness this week! Thanks Lauren for letting me link up with you again!

1. A bowling double-date that unexpectedly turned into a cosmic bowling date. Team Nelson only took 1.5 of the 3.5 games. But at least our shoes glowed in the dark...

2. Making these sweet-potato biscuits with ham (from our wedding) for the Superbowl and loving that they got devoured. Have I mentioned that we had the best chef in the world cater our wedding? My word...

3. Watching this with Adam. I've been wanting to see it for so long, and it was worth the wait. But I dare you to watch it and not get the "Hey Coco" song stuck in your head for a week. 

4. ALL five of the folks in this picture will be staying with us this weekend. My sister and brother in-law, and dear friends the Robinsons. Along with their precious new daughter. And it's going to be great!

5. Oh, my gosh. It took a lot of restraint to hold on to this till the end, but AUSTIN RIVERS' shot to beat UNC made me cry. And scream. And jump on Adam. And jump on my brother's couch. And hug my brother's girlfriend. And scream some more. And cry some more. One of my greatest moments ever as a duke fan.

How were your weeks?

What fun do you have planned for this weekend-before-Valentines? Hope it's full of LOVE!

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