Goat-Feeding, Photo Shoots, and Pumpkins

Andrew and I had a relaxing day off Monday.  It was a beautiful day, so we decided to spend most of the afternoon at Maymont.

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We fed the goats:

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In case you don’t know, I really love goats and regularly ask Andrew if we can have one as a pet (“They’re just like funny little dogs!“)  I think he takes me to Maymont somewhat often to satisfy that desire without actually getting a goat.  (“Yeah, funny little dogs that have horns and eat everything.“)  😉

After feeding the goats, we looked at the other animals, walked around the park, and just enjoyed our time together.

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Monday evening we did something that was long overdue and also a lot of fun.  When we got married a year and a half ago, a good friend of ours, Katie, paid for me to have bridal portraits done with another good friend, Kate, as her wedding gift to us.  It was an incredibly generous gift!  Kate and I were relieved that, as good friends, we could schedule the photo shoot on our own time and not worry about being super professional.  Well, to make a long story short, we finally took my bridal portraits Monday!  To make it more fun though, I convinced Andrew to dress up so we could do some couple’s shots in addition to just bridal.

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I put my wedding dress back on (it’s a little snugger than it was a year and a half ago, but it still fits! :-D) with my cowboy boots, Andrew put on a light blue shirt and khakis, and Kate drove us out to a random field in the country where we had the most beautiful photo shoot!

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Kate is insanely talented (obviously); I have no idea how to pose for pictures like this (and neither does Andrew), but Kate was awesome and told us exactly what to do!  I can’t wait to see the rest of the photos!

The week since Monday has been consumed by…. PUMPKINS!  As a fundraiser for mission trips, my youth group has a pumpkin patch on the front lawn of our church during the month of October.  The semi-truck full of pumpkins arrived early Tuesday morning:

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In case you can’t tell by the photo, that’s a whole lot of pumpkins.  It took a large group of us about three hours to unload them all;  I did more directing than lifting, but I am still really sore!  If you live in the Richmond area, consider buying your pumpkins from Trinity UMC… the money goes to a great cause!

Other than hauling pumpkins, I have been pretty lazy about working out in the last week.  Andrew and I walked for an hour last night after dinner, and I’m going to  do some lifting today (now that I’ve typed it I can’t back out :)).

Have a great Thursday!

-Goats: love them or fear them?
-Has anyone else taken bridal/wedding photos long after the wedding??
-When are you stopping by my church to buy your pumpkins? 😉

A 5K, a Wedding, and Two Picnics

Friday afternoon as I returned to work after my lunch break, I passed a friend in the parking lot who said, “I’m so glad it’s finally Friday!”  Automatically I replied, “Oh yeah, me too!”  Then I thought, Well, when you work at a church, Friday is often like Sunday: it’s the day before everything gets crazy!  Now that it’s Monday morning, I can breathe and relax. 🙂

This weekend we kicked off the new school year in the life of the church with a bunch of awesome events that definitely kept me busy!  Saturday morning our church, in partnership with another church down the road, hosted a 5K.  We encouraged the youth group folks not only to run, but to dress up in costumes.  I couldn’t find a great costume, but I did find these fantastic purple “skapris” (oh yes, “skapris” are a skirt/capri combo) plus a purple sequin headband in the kids section at Target.  All I’m saying is that I looked pretty good. 😉

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I ran with my sweet high school friend Gena, and we rocked it!  I won my age group, and Gena placed second in hers (with a lot more competition.)  We had over 200 participants and raised a lot of money that is being donated to a couple local charities!!

Saturday afternoon, on our way to a wedding in Virginia Beach, we made a stop to visit our good friend Allison.  We ate lunch, watched the Virginia Tech football game, and so enjoyed catching up and laughing!

On Saturday evening we attended the wedding of my good friend and coworker Evan and his beautiful bride Kristina.  The day was perfect, the decorations and details were adorable, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen two people so excited to get married!  It was a sweet, joyful celebration.

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Just bein’ us

It was close to 1 AM when we arrived home from the wedding, and I had to be up pretty early for church, er, later that morning.  Rather than our usual three services (two traditional and one contemporary), we had one huge, blended service to bring everyone together as we kicked off the school year.  Even though I was operating on insufficient sleep, the morning was awesome!  I don’t know  how many people were there, but the sanctuary was PACKED, and we had overflow in our Welcome Center.  Some chose to sit on the floor with their kids.  The atmosphere was just relaxed and genuine as everyone came together as one community to worship God!

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After the service we had a picnic lunch, and people spread out all over the church grounds–inside and out–to share a meal with friends!

And because one picnic on a Sunday is never enough, that evening we had a youth ministry picnic at a local park to kick off the school year and welcome our new families.  I was unable to do a headcount, but I estimate we had 150-175 people (youth, parents, and siblings).  I felt a little bit overwhelmed…in a good way.  🙂

I am most definitely an introvert, so being in a crowd like this drains my energy.  As soon as everyone had eaten, I’d finished speaking, and we started to clean up, I was ready to lie down on a picnic table and sleep.  Hah!  It was awesome, though, and I am so excited to see what’s in store this year!

As great as the weekend was, I’m so glad it’s finally Monday!! (…aren’t you?  ;-))

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Youth Group Hike (Dobie Mountain Round Two)

What’s better than hiking on a Thursday in perfect 75 degree weather?  When that hike technically counts toward your work week!  (Benefit #2028 of working in youth ministry :-D).  All the youth I work with are currently on summer break, so yesterday a group of us went hiking in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Back in May, when Andrew and I hiked Dobie Mountain, I made a mental note that it would be a great hike for a group of youth–nice views, not too long, and not too many steep uphills.  Overall, it was a big hit with the group yesterday, though I did forget just how steep one of the uphills was…

We started on the Albright Loop, which is made up of a lot of woods, rocky trails, and switchbacks.  At one point, as we walked single-file over a small stream, I heard the boy behind me say, “Ouch!”, then the girls behind him, “Ouch!” “Ahh! Ouch!” and so on down the line.  I turned around to see what was happening, and everyone behind me was swatting some insect away from their legs and arms.  I told them to keep walking past the water in case whatever it was had a nest there.  Once we were out of the ouch zone, I inspected the bites/stings.  They looked–and apparently felt–like bee stings, but the victims said the bugs looked like giant mosquitoes.  Anyone know what that is??  One girl’s bite was particularly red and puffy, and when I asked if she was allergic to bees she said, “I don’t know.  I’ve never been stung!”  Oh God, please do not let her have an allergic reaction…  We kept an eye on the wounds, and thankfully no one had any serious reaction!

After about two miles, we reached the intersection of the Appalachian Trail.  When Andrew and I hiked this, we continued south on the AT;  yesterday we decided to hike north for about half a mile to reach an additional overlook.

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After resting for a few minutes and enjoying the view, we began hiking south–all uphill at this point–to reach the bigger Glass Hollow Overlook and our lunch destination.  I love the sense of awe that everyone inevitably feels when stepping out onto an overlook like this:

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But seriously–could this be any more beautiful?

We ate lunch and hung out around this area for over an hour.  (Silly me–I thought I would have to convince them to simply be and enjoy the views, but as it turns out, the mountains are hypnotizing to more people than just me.  😉  I kept hearing, “I could stay here all day!”)

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We still had a few hours before we needed to drive back to Richmond, and the remainder of the hike would only take us about 30 minutes, so we decided to hike a little further on the AT.  We continued for a mile or so, during which I uttered the understatement of the day:  That particular stretch of trail was relatively flat, with soft dirt and lush greenery all around us.  I said, “This is nice little path we’re on!”, and quickly realizing the humor added, “And by ‘nice little path,’ I mean, ‘the Appalachian Trail.'”  Hah!  You know… that nice little path that runs from Maine to Georgia. 😉

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Our fierce, young hikers

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My new friend Juliet who came with us to help and was such a trooper!

We returned to the overlook for one final glimpse, then began the trek back to the parking lot.  This is the part of the hike for which I apparently had slope amnesia.  When we met back up with the Albright Loop, we only had one mile to go, but the first half of that mile was a serious uphill.  How did I not remember that?  After already hiking about six miles at that point, we were hurting!  Eventually we made it and began the trip back to Richmond.

The original plan was to hike 4 miles–the Albright Loop, plus the short trek on the AT to reach the Glass Hollow Overlook.  However, we added a mile to see the first overlook, then about two miles on the AT at the end, bringing our total to roughly seven miles.  Not bad!  When I started hiking yesterday, my legs and glutes were still sore from the cardio class I took Tuesday night.  After all those hills, I am hobbling. 🙂

As always, the hike provided an awesome workout with beautiful scenery to ease the pain.  Plus, I had great company yesterday. 😀

Have you hiked anywhere particularly cool lately?

Trampolines, a Brave Birthday, and Family

Happy Monday, everyone!  We had a full weekend in North Carolina celebrating our niece Lauren’s 4th birthday.  My dad, aunt, and uncle drove up from Georgia for the weekend, and my mom and brother drove down from Richmond Saturday.  I know there will come a time that the entire family can’t gather for the nieces’ parties, but for now I love the tradition. 🙂

We drove down early Friday evening and met my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and friend Jeanine at Defy Gravity–Raleigh’s indoor trampoline gym.  If you have never been to a place like this, find the one closest to you and go.  Today.  Jumping in a room full of trampolines makes you feel like a kid… and also gives you a fantastic workout!

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Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get a non-blurry, mid-jump iphone photo. 😉

Saturday morning, before the party prepping picked up for the day, my aunt Ann and I went for a run through the Capital Area Greenway–a beautiful park with lots of trails (paved and unpaved) and wildlife.

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I took these photos as the end of the run, but I wish I’d run with my phone to capture some of the beauty of this place.  We ran around a lake, jumped across streams, high-stepped over roots, and ran within feet of a bunch of deer, who were obviously accustomed to having people around.  It was fantastic!

After the run, it was party prep time.  I’ve mentioned this before (see Kendall’s birthday party back in March), but Whitney and Jeanine go all out for birthdays.  Lauren’s party was “Brave” themed (the movie, not the adjective ;-)).  Here are a few of the details:

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Plus the Highland Games in the backyard:

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Beanbag toss (board painted by Jeanine), log toss, and archery

Everyone had a great time at the party, and we were all pretty wiped out afterwards!  For the rest of the evening we relaxed, made tacos for dinner, and just enjoyed time with family.  Most of the crew hit the road early Sunday morning, but Andrew and I hung around to have brunch with the birthday girl (her actual birthday was Sunday.)  Finally, with full bellies, we said goodbye and drove back home.

The first thing we did when we arrived home was crawl into bed and take a 45-minute power nap;  between the travel and the excitement of the weekend, neither one of us were going to be functional without a nap :).  Afterwards we made a trip to the grocery store, and when we arrived back home, Andrew mowed the grass, and I started dinner:  salmon, roasted acorn squash, and a brown rice/quinoa mixture (we had about 1/2 c left of each that we needed to use!)

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Delicious.

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Have you ever been to an indoor trampoline gym?  What did you think??

Ultimate Frisbee + My New Favorite Squash Recipe

I am sore this morning!  Last night we played Ultimate Frisbee with friends, and we played hard.  I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, dinner.

We enjoyed leftovers from an awesome dinner Monday night: chicken sausages with a potato, squash, and goat cheese gratin.  I used this recipe for the gratin (minus the milk and Parmesan cheese; Andrew can handle goat cheese.)

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Oh, it was delicious.  Squash by itself?  Not my favorite.  Squash with my beloved potatoes?  Oh, yes.  This recipe is a winner, for sure.

After eating, we made our way to the University of Richmond to meet the Ultimate Frisbee gang.  We went a little bit early so Andrew and a few others could play Spikeball first.  I embraced the opportunity to go for a walk through the beautiful campus.

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Ready. To. Play. 😉

Last week we had 8 people for Frisbee;  this week we had twenty.  Rather than play a crowded 10-on-10 game, we made four teams and had a mini tournament on two adjacent fields.  We each played one game (first team to score 11,) then the winners played, and the losers played.   By the end, we’d all spend about 90 minutes running pretty hard.  The teams were beautifully even in terms of abilities, so although we won our games (:-D), both were very close, and there was no time to rest.

After driving home and hobbling from the car to the house, I made my favorite workout recovery meal–a smoothie.  This cup contained frozen berries, banana, mixed greens, peanut butter, and soy milk.  While this sounds rather strange and is not my typical smoothie combination–I usually use spinach, but we have mixed greens on hand right now, and I usually forego the peanut butter, but I wanted some extra protein–it actually tasted great!  And no, I could not taste the greens. 🙂

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I love smoothies as workout recovery fuel because they contain carbohydrates, protein, and lots of vitamins, depending on what fruit you include.  Unfortunately, none of that is preventing my legs and glutes from being incredibly sore this morning. 😀

What do you eat/drink after a hard workout?
Do you ever play Ultimate Frisbee?

Boating + An Almost Farm-to-Table Dinner

Greetings on this dark, but delightfully cool morning (at least in Richmond)!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.

We kicked ours off Friday with dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant and a movie–Red 2.  We saw the first one in the theater when we were still dating and loved it, and the sequel did not disappoint!  If you’re looking for a good suspenseful, action-packed, make-you-belly-laugh movie, I highly recommend Red 2.

On Saturday, we spent the day on the bay.  One of Andrew’s coworkers, Bruce, has a bay house (technically his mom’s) and a boat, and he invited us down for the day.

IMG_1472It was a gorgeous day–warm,with a breeze, but not hot; big fluffly clouds in the sky…

We spent most of the day in the boat, but stopped at a little island beach for a while to eat lunch and relax (you know, because riding around in a boat is so stressful ;-)).

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We also did some fishing from the boat.  Well, Bruce did some fishing (Andrew and I don’t have licenses.)  In a short amount of time, he caught five decent-sized croakers, which he cleaned and sent home with us!

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Driving home we caught this awesome sunset:

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On Sunday, after an excellent worship service at church, Andrew and I (…wait for it… this might surprise you…) worked in the garden.  😉  I weeded;  Andrew demolished a stump and tilled the soil so we could put the strawberry plants in the ground (rather than pots.)  We replanted the strawberries, and planted more green bean, broccoli, carrot, and beet seeds.  Our green beans are doing well and don’t take long to mature, and we just wanted more!  Our row of broccoli failed–one tiny head was starting to emerge just as the caterpillars destroyed the plants.  We planted the beet and carrot seeds in pots with store-bought soil.  As much as we tried to improve our ground soil, it still has lumps of clay and some rocks, which produce gnarly little underground vegetables.  (Exhibits A & B.)  We’re hoping the pots will be more of a controlled environment for them!

In sad garden news, I think we are losing our cucumber plants.  The leaves are getting yellow spots, then shriveling up and dying.

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Anyone know what that’s about?  Is it a disease?  Over/under watering?  I’m not very happy about it.

For dinner last night we enjoyed the fish from Saturday with green beans from the garden and some quinoa:

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We breaded the fish in gluten-free bread crumbs and pan-fried it (healthy, I know ;-)).  Apparently the tails are delicious, but you’ll have to ask Andrew about that.

And now, I’m off to tackle Monday.

What did you do this weekend?
What the heck is wrong with our cucumbers?

Impromptu College Reunion

I am currently experiencing a post-exhausting-week cold.  My throat began itching on the drive home Friday, and now I am in full blown green snot mode.  (You’re welcome.)  Andrew woke me up in the middle of the night and said, “Catherine… roll over.  You’re making funny noises….and you’re right in my face.”  😀  I consider myself to have a strong immune system, but I know I am highly susceptible to getting sick when I am stressed and/or overly tired.  Oy.

I spent most of Saturday recuperating, and on Sunday I met up with with my college housemates for an impromptu reunion.  We met at Kate’s apartment in the Fan and walked to Garnett’s Cafe for lunch.  I’d never been, but it was delicious, and they have gluten-free bread, so I will have to go back with Andrew very soon!  From there we walked to Kuba Kuba for their iced cafes con leche (by the way, I have been far too lax about the amount of dairy I’m eating…)  By the time we arrived back at Kate’s after two hours of talking, eating, talking, and walking, I was exhausted and had a bad case of medicine-head.  I drove home to take a nap, and the girls went to the river, with the plan to come over to our house later for dinner, prepared by Chef Andrew.

The meal included a salad with lots of fresh veggies from our garden, plus spinach and arugula from the store.  I was thrilled to be able to share the harvest with our friends 🙂

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In addition to salad, we had baked chicken with a roasted red pepper and artichoke tapenade (the tapenade was from Trader Joe’s) and a lemon-basil quinoa.

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It was all pretty delicious. 🙂

The girls were concerned that I was taking this picture because they’d come straight from the river/being out in the sun all afternoon, but I think they all look beautiful:

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We ate and talked and reminisced about things we did in college.  Andrew informed us that the more he hears about our college experience (mostly the pranks we pulled and the weird things we did that we thought were hilarious), the less he wonders why none of us dated very much 😀

We ended the day with a trip to Ray’s for ice cream and Italian water ice.  As always, it’s so good for my soul to spend time with this crew, even when I’m not feeling well!

What was the highlight of your weekend?