One Year

One year ago today, I married my best friend.  I know everyone uses that terminology (“married my best friend,”) but I mean it.

Tudor & Storey Wedding

We had a gorgeous day in April (every other weekend that month was rainy and cold.)  The months leading up to the wedding had been rough in other areas of life, but with the help of family and friends, everything came together perfectly for the day.  I walked down the aisle to a song written and played by our friends Chelsea and Josh.  The flowers in the bouquets were grown and arranged by Andrew’s cousins Stuart and Alice.  We truly could not have done it without the help of, oh, everyone we know. 🙂

Tudor & Storey Wedding

Tudor & Storey Wedding

Tudor & Storey Wedding Tudor & Storey Wedding

Tudor & Storey Wedding


(Photos by Rob Jefferson and Kate Magee Photography)

It’s hard to believe an entire year has passed since that day.  So what have I learned in one year of marriage?  First, the power of apologizing and forgiveness.  There is nothing like marriage, being with someone every single day, to bring out the faults in both parties.  Being quick to say, “I’m sorry,” even if it’s only for a snippy comment made while in a bad mood, goes a long way… as does not holding something over the other person’s head or guilt-tripping.

The second thing I’ve learned in marriage (and I use the word, “learned” loosely; it’s more of a “learning process,”) is the value of putting the other person first.  By nature, we are self-serving beings.  When I come home from work, I want to sit on the couch and watch TV, or read a book, or do something that want to do.  But what if there’s a pile of dishes in the sink?  If I choose not to do them (which would by my preference 100% of the time,) Andrew will likely end up doing them.  If I choose to think of him first, suck it up, and just clean the dishes, then Andrew will have a chance to relax.  Sometimes I choose to serve myself, and sometimes I choose to serve him;  when I put him first though, I never regret it (and I bet he’d say the same thing about putting me first.)  Marriage, love, requires sacrifice.

Our marriage is far from perfect (as is any marriage, I assume,) but I sure do love that guy.  I wouldn’t trade the last year of my life for anything, and I look forward to 75 more (I’m optimistic ;-))

Andrew, thanks for letting me fall asleep on you on the couch most weeknights and for letting me hug you at inconvenient times (“It’s your cooking dinner hug.”)  Most of all, thank you for loving me so well all the time.  I love you… Happy Anniversary!



Race Week Workouts + Thoughts on Yoga

Tomorrow is race day–time to see if all my training has been enough.  To be honest, I am not feeling entirely confident I can achieve my goal of breaking 50 minutes for the 10k.  I know I put in some great training runs, but I started a little late, and my legs have felt achy in the last week.  I’m going to do my best to push the doubts out of mind and just go for it tomorrow!  I can break 50 minutes.  I can break 50 minutes…

The week leading up to a race is tricky in terms of workouts.  I try to strike a balance between working out enough that I don’t lose any physical fitness, and resting enough that I don’t wear myself out before the race.  Here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Run- 30 minutes, easy

Tuesday: Weeding the yard (Don’t even try to tell me that’s not a workout.  It’s like doing squats for two hours [we had a lot of weeds ;-)] )

Wednesday AM: Run-30 minutes, easy

Wednesday PM: Yoga- 60 minutes (more on this later)

Thursday: Walk-30 minutes

Friday: Rest

In the few days leading up to a race, I’m pretty sure resting is more beneficial than any workout!

About that yoga.  Andrew and I have started taking a class at our gym on Wednesday nights (we’ve been about five times so far.)  Prior to this, I’d taken a few yoga classes here and there but always preferred a good 30-minute run to an hour of thinking about breathing and trying not to laugh.  A few years ago, in an attempt to be proactive about relaxing and controlling stress, I bought a yoga DVD.  I did it a few times in my living room, but I’d always fast forward through the 5-minute “warm-up,” which consisted of lying on my back, breathing, and thinking, “I don’t have time for this…”  In retrospect, I think I may have been missing the point. 😉

Recently we decided to give it another shot (Andrew had never been to a class or fast forwarded through a DVD.)  After a few weeks of consistent yoga, it turns out we really enjoy it!  That doesn’t mean we are good at it (we are not,) but we do find it rewarding, and it actually is a very good workout.

While we are becoming more comfortable with yoga, we still have a long way to go–I know; it’s not really a destination, but we’re definitely newbies.  Inevitably during each class there is at least one situation that makes us giggle.  It usually happens when the teacher gives an instruction that, whatever she meant to say, arrives at my ear sounding like this:  “Lifting your right leg to the side, wrap your left arm around your ankle twice, right arm on blue, left foot green, and lean back.  Breathe.”  😉

Without fail there is also always some instruction given for which I think, “I must have missed something;  it’s impossible to look at the ceiling from my current position.”  I come out of the position to look at the instructor and discover that, yes, yes it is possible to look at the ceiling from that position.

Additionally, Andrew and I are potentially the two least flexible people on the planet.  This week in class we did a lot more stretching/flexibility positions than usual, and it was painful–not so much physically, but painful how bad I was! (I know, that’s not really what yoga is about.)  At one point she instructed us to sit with our legs in a wide straddle and lean to the right.  I thought, “Lean to the right?  Or lean over my right leg?  For you it’s the same thing, but for me the two are very different.  I have like a 90-degree angle going on…”  I was thankful that most people in the class could bend over and touch their faces to the floor so they couldn’t see me essentially sitting up straight. 😀

The verdict:  We are sticking with it.  At the very least, it is a great means to improve our poor flexibility!

With that I am off to rest…well, not workout, anyway.  I am going to the race expo this afternoon with my friend Gabe to pick up our numbers and race packets (and get free samples!  Gotta love race expos :-D)

Anyone else racing this weekend?

April Garden Update

Based on the weather, it seems we’ve skipped spring completely and gone straight from winter to summer.  Yesterday the observed high for Richmond was a record-breaking 91 degrees!  Even the squirrels are struggling with the heat:

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We have a bunch of white squirrels in our neighborhood (which we find awesome, in case you were wondering. :))  When I arrived home yesterday I found this one resting in the shade under our wheelbarrow planter.  He stayed there for a solid 30 minutes!

The plus side of the heat is that it is finally warm enough to start planting the vegetables outside.  This week we planted broccoli, Swiss chard, carrot, and beet seeds–all of which can handle a bit of cold, and we have a few 40-something-degree nights on the horizon.

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We also transplanted the plants we started inside in February from the seed starting kit to individual plastic cups (with holes cut in the bottoms for drainage.)  We were way late doing this, and now we are having to do some popsicle stick scoliosis treatment for the tomato plants.  I think they are beginning to straighten…

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This is only half of the plants, and the two giants in the top photo are tomatillos that our friend Matt gave us this week (thanks, Matt!)  We’ve been putting them on the back deck for a few hours each day to let them adjust to the outdoors before it becomes their permanent home.  (If that sounds crazy, you should know that when Andrew comes home from work he says, “How are the babies doing?” in reference to the plants. 😉 )

The downside to the heat is that my tulips–which I’ve been eagerly anticipating since I planted them in the fall–are blooming overnight, opening completely by the afternoon, and losing their petals by the evening.

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DSCN7747Pretty, nonetheless 🙂

By the mailbox:


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You can check out the “before” pictures from a month ago here.  It’s crazy to see the difference!


Even if each tulip only blooms for a day, I plan to enjoy them while they last. 🙂

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

There’s something about the first 80-degree day of the year to make you realize just how badly you need to iron your shorts and shave your legs (sorry, Andrew. 😉 )  Additionally, the gorgeous weather yesterday inspired us to cook dinner on the grill.  This recipe is far from cutting edge, but the end result is quite tasty:

Grilled Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs

1 1/2 lb chicken breasts 

3 bell peppers 

1/2 onion 

2 c pineapple



3 tbsp soy sauce (gluten-free or regular)

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


1. Slice chicken into chunks and place in large zip-seal bag.  Slice peppers, onion, and pineapple into 1-2 inch pieces and place in separate zip-seal bag.  2.  Combine ingredients for marinade, mix well, and pour half into each zip-seal bag.  3.  Place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour.  4.  Preheat grill to medium heat.  If using wooden skewers, soak them in water (to prevent them from catching fire.)  5.  Put chicken and veggies on skewers, leaving a little room at each end to allow for turning.


(We put our meat and veggies on separate skewers in case they require different cooking times, but you can mix them up if you want!)

6.  Place skewers on grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning a few times.  Check chicken regularly to make sure it is completely cooked.  7.  Remove from skewers, and enjoy!

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We ate ours with some brown rice (made in the rice cooker,) and it was delicious!  I don’t eat onion, so half of an onion was sufficient for Andrew, but you could certainly use a whole one.  Next time we’ll marinate everything for a bit longer (we didn’t quite give it an hour.)  Even so, it tasted great, and we will definitely make it again!


DIY Sewing Organization & A Surprise Party

My sister, Whitney, turned 30 last week, and we drove to North Carolina Saturday for a surprise party thrown by my brother-in-law, Charles.  The party was a huge success– backyard barbecue, fantastic bluegrass band, and Whitney was genuinely surprised.  Everyone had a blast!

I meant to capture the entire party, but mostly just took pictures of my family.  Sorry for the photo-overload, but I really love these people. 🙂 Ross, my mom, and my mom’s friend Walter drove down from Richmond, my dad, Aunt Ann, and Uncle Richard drove up from Atlanta, and Whitney’s best friend Jeanine drove down from Northern Virginia:

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I think the best surprise of all for Whitney was this:

528277_622926824389862_313341416_nShe babysat these girls during her college days 10 years ago, and they made the trip from Northern VA to celebrate her birthday.  Whitney actually screamed when she saw them.  Charles set the bar pretty high for himself for future birthday parties. 😉

As for our present…  Whitney is incredibly crafty.  Among other things, she sews/monograms/appliques adorable children’s clothing which she sells here on her Etsy site.  <–Check it out!  The last time we visited, I noticed that she could use some organization in her sewing room.  I searched Pinterest for inspiration, presented a vision to Andrew, and we began work on a project…


…that ultimately turned into this:

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A pretty sewing organization board!


Plus a set of pincushion mason jars for storage and, well, pins.

We were pretty pleased with the outcome and thought crafting a present was a great way to honor the ultimate crafter on her birthday.

Happy birthday, Whitney, and happy crafting to all!

Et Tu, Dairy?

At 4:15 Wednesday afternoon I was enjoying frozen yogurt with the youth group.  At 5:15 I curled myself into a ball on the couch.

At 5:00 Thursday afternoon I made a snack that was a favorite among my college housemates–salsa+cream cheese+shredded cheese, melted and blended, eaten with tortilla chips.  At 6:00 I curled myself into a ball on the couch.

At 6:01 that day Andrew insisted that I place this note on the refrigerator:





Andrew has been telling me for over a year that dairy is to blame for my somewhat regular stomach discomfort.  I thought it was a “misery loves company” kind of thing, but the evidence is becoming too compelling to ignore.  I halfheartedly gave up dairy a few months ago, but the thought of never eating ice cream again brought me back.  The problem, I think, was that I didn’t set a time limit on it, and that made it seem overwhelming.

So, with all this in mind, starting today I am embarking on a 30-day dairy-free challenge.

If I don’t notice a difference in the way I feel after 30 days, I will welcome dairy back into my life with open arms.  This is not going to be easy for me, especially as we enter ice cream season (…nah, ice cream is an all-season kind of food 😉 )  I do already eat some things dairy-free–when I last attempted to give it up I made the permanent switch to soy milk, and most dinners we cook are dairy-free (although I might put cheese on my tacos.)

I will leave you with a related joke from my favorite comedian, Brian Regan:

“I have to lay off the dairy though.  That’s what my doctor threw in as I was leaving the office: ‘Oh, and uh, lay off dairy!’  I’m like, what the…?  What kind of blanket sweep is that?  He should have just said, ‘And no more happiness!'”


Easy Turkey Tacos

Everyone likes tacos, right?

Back in December I babysat overnight for some friends.  Before the three kids left for school the first day, I asked what they wanted for dinner that night.  Tacos suited everyone.  I grocery shopped that afternoon, prepared dinner while the kids were doing homework, and was feeling very pleased with myself (parenthood?  I’ve so got this,) until…

“…This is a strange kind of beef…”–“That’s because it’s chicken.”

“Where are the soft tacos?”–“I only bought the hard shells…”

“Is there sour cream?”–“No…”

Everyone likes tacos… but everyone does tacos a little differently 😉

Last night was taco night for us.  Here’s how we do it:

Easy Turkey Tacos

1 lb lean ground turkey

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp smoked (or regular) paprika

1/4 tsp salt

1+tbsp corn starch

Hard taco shells

Tomato, diced

Mixed greens, finely chopped

Shredded cheddar-jack  cheese (for Catherine, not Andrew)


1.  Pour olive oil into skillet over medium heat.  Add turkey and cook completely, stirring regularly.

2.  While turkey is cooking, combine spices and corn starch in a glass.  Add 1/2 c water and mix well, making sure there are no corn starch clumps.

3.  Add liquid/spice mixture to cooked turkey in skillet.  Let simmer over medium-low heat, mixing well to coat all the turkey.  Remove from heat when the sauce has thickened.

4. Slice tomatoes and mixed greens.

5.  Assemble, squeezing lime juice over the greens at the very end.


We like to warm the shells in the toaster oven for a few minutes before eating them;  if you do this, be sure to watch closely, as they go from cold to burned very quickly (found that out the hard way.)

Tacos are a super easy and quick weeknight meal.  We went from sitting on the couch asking, “Are you getting hungry?” to sitting at the table on the couch eating in about 20 minutes.


New Shoes and Muddy Trail Runs

I purchased a new pair of running shoes over the weekend, and yesterday was the day for their debut run.  The weather was so beautiful that I decided not to waste my run on a treadmill, or even the neighborhood roads–I drove to a local park to enjoy the trails.

new shoes

The weather was so beautiful, in fact (70 degrees and sunny,) that I blocked out the memory of all the rain we’d received the day before.  A few hours of sunshine aren’t enough to dry a day’s worth of mud, as I soon discovered.


The trail started out nice enough–shade, soft surface, roots and logs to hurdle–but soon  those logs became bridges over mud puddles.

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Thankfully, I had a fair amount of success keeping the shoes clean, with the exception of a few mud splatters.

I love being in the woods, mud and all.  It reminds me of my childhood, when our house backed up to some fantastic woods.  Every chance we had we’d play there with all the kids on our street, building forts, jumping over creeks, attempting to catch tadpoles with “fishing rods” made from sticks and long grass.  Every section of our woods was named too:  Skull Fort, the Lagoon, Nazi Crossing (there was a swastika spray-painted on a tree and what we swore was a grave nearby.  It was unwise to visit that area alone. )  When the neighborhood on the other side of the woods began to expand, we would rip the neon orange ribbons off the trees, certain this would sufficiently confuse the builders, and we could keep our woods.  <Sigh>

All that to say, I love being in the woods.  Sitting, running, hiking…it’s all very therapeutic, I think.

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My less-new, now broken-in shoes agree. 🙂


Are you a fan of trail runs, or do you prefer to stay on the roads? 

Easter Sunday

Happy (belated) Easter!

Yesterday we had a great time celebrating Christ’s resurrection with family and friends.  In the morning we attended the contemporary service at our church, in which they played this awesome video.  It’s a beautiful visual of what Easter means for us:  Christ is risen from the grave, and we are set free!

DSCN7609Dressed in our Easter best…yes, that is Andrew’s basketball medal hanging from the mantel behind me 😉

After church we had Andrew’s mom over to the house for lunch.  We prepared ham, fruit salad, and–(wait for it)– eggs in hash brown nests.  Andrew saw the idea on a cooking show last week, and we decided to give it a try!  Here’s the recipe we used (halved.)

DSCN7610Andrew making the “nests” with the shredded potatoes 




The eggs in hash brown nests turned out well!  They were a bit tough to remove from the muffin tins, but once they were out tasted great. 🙂

And, what would Easter be without a few sweets?

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I made “trash” (or “puppy chow”) on Saturday and cannot stop eating it!  The stuff is so addictive (peanut butter+chocolate+powdered sugar on rice chex… What’s not to love?)  Andrew has been hitting the jelly beans pretty hard.

After lunch we decided to take a nap.  It took me a while to fall asleep, even though I knew I was really tired, and I almost gave up.  However, at some point I dozed off, and when I woke up it was 5:00!  An epic 3-hour nap.  😀

For dinner we met my mom, brother, family friend Barb, and my mom’s friend Walter at–(again, wait for it)–Cracker Barrel.  This is strangely becoming a habit for my family;  we ate there with my mom and brother on Thanksgiving Day because the rest of the family couldn’t get together until Friday, when we had our real Thanksgiving.  We’ve never been the type of people who go out to eat on holidays, but it does seem to be happening a lot lately…and CB seems to be the restaurant of choice 🙂

We had a great time laughing, telling stories, and reminiscing about the time Barb took my sister and me to the movies…and we thought we were hilarious putting popcorn in her purse.  Sorry, Barb. 😉

How did you celebrate Easter?