Oct 20, 2014

'tis the season for major life changes

Have you seen that F. Scott Fitzgerald quote floating about? That one that says, "life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." I've been finding it to ring quite true lately. This particular week in October, in fact, is becoming quite a significant week in my life in terms of "life starting all over again." On October 19, 2007 after a thoughtfully planned day-long date ending in a picnic, Riley proposed. Saying yes was one of the absolute best decisions of my life and certainly steered my "life after college" plans in a new direction.

On October 20, 2013, Riley and I (and Gidget) set sail on our five month long live-aboard sailing adventure. At the time, we had no idea what was in store for us either during or after this trip, but we knew that whatever it was, it was certainly going to be life-changing.

On October 20 of this year, Riley and I officially made an offer on a house. Of course, I probably shouldn't even bring this up because these things don't always work out, but it feels too significant not to. Anyway, we are so far gone on this house that we are going to need the aid of a support system if it doesn't work out. I'm talking… the entire renovation has already been planned out, room by room. There was just no stopping us.

Fall just feels like the right time for fresh starts, doesn't it?  It can't just be a coincidence that we seem to make these kind of major life decisions at this time of year, can it?  Does this happen to you too?  Do you find yourself craving fresh starts in the fall?

Oct 17, 2014

the grand tour of our downtown apartment

Finally, as promised, a tour of our downtown apartment! Two weeks of nearly non-stop gray skies and torrential downpours delayed things a bit because I needed as much natural light as I could get to try to photograph our little space. Tight corners and awkward lighting situations made it difficult enough already!

So this apartment really is a dream come true. I always had this idea in the back of my mind of how much fun it would be to live in a downtown apartment full of charm and within walking distance to the hustle and bustle of some city center. However, I married a country boy and was pretty certain that exact scenario wasn't in my future. Flash forward six years, and after living in the country and then on a boat, a downtown apartment happened to be the perfect temporary living situation while we figure out our next step. My dream checklist included things like a brick wall, spiral staircase, a rooftop patio, and great views. Check, check, check and check. Fortunately, I've never craved a large living space (if you couldn't tell from our previous living situation), because that wouldn't have made the budget cut anyway. Since this living situation is temporary, we didn't invest anything in terms of redecorating (aside from a few plants and pillows), and instead used the furniture and accessories that we already owned. Sometimes that worked out surprising well, and other times it made for a bit of a tight squeeze. But all in all, I'm pretty pleased with how we were able to make our old stuff feel new again in this space.  

So, without further ado, the grand tour:

The apartment enters to the kitchen, a small but functional u-shaped space. My favorite feature is the concrete counter top. My least favorite, the track lighting. The bar area is another plus since we don't have the floorspace for a proper table.

As soon as I walked into the living room for the first time, I couldn't wait to throw my cowhide rug down on that beautiful floor in front of the brick wall. I have a long list of favorites in this room, including that pine wall that conceals a door to a half bath, a window with a view of downtown, and Riley's clever custom built solution to our bulky tv stand/bike storage problem. Oh, and that spiral staircase, too, of course.  

I really feel like we hit the jackpot in this loft space. Four large windows with an excellent view of downtown with a perfect desk nook, a master bath, a small closet for a washer and dryer, and most importantly, access to our very own patio.

I feel so very grateful to have been able to experience life in a downtown apartment. Not only has it been a dream come true, but instead of mourning the ending of our sailing trip, we were able to see it as an entirely new adventure. I've tried my best to soak up every minute of it and will continue to do so in these last few months!

Oct 1, 2014

currently: fresh air, apples, and apartment tours

smelling: The "fresh" air out on our rooftop patio (I'm thinking city air doesn't truly qualify as "fresh air," but it's something).  I'm so excited that it's finally starting to get cool enough in the mornings and evenings to enjoy it again.  I've been sprucing it up with a few new fall flowers and I'm pretty sure it's currently my favorite spot in the apartment.

loving: all of these fall capsule wardrobe posts I keep seeing everywhere.  Fall is my favorite time for deep cleaning, and I've already been on wardrobe purge kick.  It's fun to see others get in on it too, and take notes on how and what they're making work for their own wardrobes at the start of a new season.  Here are a few that might inspire you, too: one, two, three

planning: a blog tour of our apartment!  When it comes to decorating, I'm never really done.  But, I think I've reached that point in apartment decorating where I'm not really going to invest any further energy in it, so it is what it is!  Plus, it had pretty good bones to start with anyway.  I'm going to have to get creative with angles in some of these small spaces, but if all goes well I should have a tour posted by the end of next week!

baking: these baked apples… over and over again.  After the decadence that was pear gruyère pie, I was on the hunt for something seasonal that was a million times healthier but still felt like a treat.  With only three ingredients and all of which I always have on hand, these apples were just the ticket.  I've already made them three times in the last week.

celebrating: world vegetarian day…?  Did you know there was such a thing?  I'll take advantage of any quirky food holiday, and since I've recently decided that fall produce is actually my very favorite, I don't think this one should be hard to celebrate at all.  Sweet potatoes, parsnips and brussels sprouts, here I come!

What are you loving lately?  Do you have a fall capsule wardrobe (leave me a link so I can see!)? Do you have any favorite fall produce recipes to share?

linking up with Jenna and Anne today.

Sep 26, 2014

pear gruyère pie... à la pushing daisies

Life lately seems to be revolving in an endless cycle of… pie.  Terrible, right?  It all started when this adorable little shop selling mini pies opened up in Roanoke.  I caught wind of it several weeks before it opened and the anticipation was so intense that all I could think about was pie.  All of this thinking about eating pie then got me thinking about that show Pushing Daisies (Ned owns a pie shop called The Pie Hole), and all of the watching shows about pie got me thinking about eating pie… and so on and so forth.  In one episode of the show, a pear gruyère pie is mentioned, and I couldn't get the combination out of my mind.  The pie addiction didn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?  Also, the more the merrier. And so, that is how my sister and I found ourselves baking a pear gruyère pie on the first day of fall.  I smell a new tradition baking…

All I had to do was google "Pushing Daisies Pear Gruyère Pie," and all sorts of delicious goodness appeared.  Most posts seemed to all link back to one original recipe, so that's what I used for my own pie.

Now, I'm not really a pie maker, and when I am I usually cheat with Pillsbury crusts, so I think mine wound up a little too thick. Other changes I would make would be chopping the pears just a little smaller and poaching them for maybe a bit longer.  Also, we used 1/2 stick less butter in the crust, and it was till a ton! All in all, it was a really interesting combination of savory crust and sweet filling. And it definitely disappeared quickly. Personally, I found it was best served for breakfast on the patio, accompanied by a hot cup of black coffee and a cool  autumn morning breeze.

I'm thinking that an apple/cheese combination might be fun to try next.  Have you ever made any unusual pie combinations before?  What's your favorite?  (Also… any other Pushing Daisies fans out there?)

You can find the pear gruyère pie recipe I used here, and try it for yourself!

Today I'm linking up with Samantha and Christina and I highly recommend checking out their blogs for some more delicious pear recipe inspiration!

Sep 22, 2014

summer in the city

I knew that it was going to happen, but still, our (mostly likely) one year of living downtown is flying by extremely quickly.  It's led to this slight paranoia about enjoying each of the one seasons of this downtown life to the fullest.  And while I'm completely ready to welcome fall with open arms, I feel like I need to first bid a proper goodbye to the previous seasons… especially since I maybe haven't been the most attentive blogger, and it really is nice to have these life experiences documented in some fashion.

We ended our sailing trip at the tail end of winter, so spring was the first full season that we got to experience in our brand new lifestyle.  We were still a little distracted by the end of a great adventure and settling back into life on land, and I feel like our heads and hearts were in two places at once.  But still, spring was so good to us.

Some of my favorite moments:

finding a really great downtown apartment really quickly
being welcomed to the city with the St. Patricks Day parade
date nights with walks downtown and random flowers from strangers
the first glimpse of the gorgeous views from the top of The Center in the Square building
a little urban gardening on our rooftop patio
taking advantage of the proximity of local hole in the wall joints for late night cravings
enjoying our patio space in the cool spring evenings
riding bikes on the greenways (and running into a bit of flooding…)

Summer was pretty great, too.  Although, admittedly, I was a little bit of a wuss about walking around in the heat.  I think I've become even more of a fan of climate controlled environments since living on a boat, if that's even possible.  And we did miss a few of the downtown summer festivals because of traveling back and forth to the boat.  Once we said goodbye to her though, we gave the city our full attention.

The best of the summer:

celebrating our 6th anniversary with a walk downtown to a delicious dinner
weekend market days involving gorgeous weather and a festival or two
catching a token summer baseball game
treating myself to a gorgeous bouquet from the farmer's market
celebrating my 29th birthday with a breakfast date with my sister
discovering that the best, most gigantic pizza in town is just a short walk from our apartment
finding rare moments of cool enough weather to enjoy our patio again
redecorating the apartment to incorporate growing hobbies in a small living space

We're halfway through our year now, and I have to say, I've been the most excited about fall the whole time.  I can't wait to see what fun the cooler weather brings.  But mostly, I'm so grateful for this experience and for all of the fun memories we've already made so far.

What are some of your favorite memories from this summer?  And what are you looking forward to the most this fall?

Sep 15, 2014

father knows best

A phone conversation from a few weeks ago…

Dad: So, what do you want for your birthday?

Allison:  Well, I told Riley I'd really like to get a vintage, or vintage-looking road bike. Something cute that I can ride around town or on the greenway. I've been looking at Craigslist…

Dad: Let me tell you what you really need. A mountain bike.

Allison:  I don't think I actually want to go mountain biking, though. I don't think I'd get enough use out of one.

Guess who was the owner of a brand new mountain bike just a few days later?

The thing about my Dad is that he's a very generous guy. He likes to buy gifts. Whether they're for himself or other people, he's often guilty of "over-gifting." The catch is, sometimes you don't always know that you want the gifts he's giving.

I had to re-imagine the mental image I had of myself putting around town on a cute little bike, mint green, maybe, with a basket and perhaps a bell, into one of myself huffing and puffing up mountains, racing down steep inclines, splashing through deep mud puddles and jumping fallen trees. Well, that's what I imagine Riley doing during his mountain bike races anyway.

After my initial two "mountain bike rides" (quotation marks are necessary for beginners), I'd say I have my work cut out for me. It is an enjoyable way to get in a good workout, though, and we live in such a beautiful and convenient place for mountain biking. I do believe I'll leave the competitive racing to Riley, but I'd still huff and puff up my way up a mountain just for the views alone.

Do you enjoy biking?  Are you a fan of the leisurely variety or the mountain variety?

Sep 9, 2014

one dress… two ways

Ever since we returned from our sailing trip, I've been getting rid of clothes left and right.  We brought so few with us for those five months that I got used to wearing the same thing over and over.  When I returned and unpacked those boxes of clothes that I had kept in storage, it just felt like so much.  I got rid of about half of it right away, and I've been slowly culling through the rest of it ever since.  I've found that I really don't need a lot of clothes, but I do need a few that I really love.  Because, I honestly do like clothes, getting dressed, and pretty things in general.  And I don't think that's a bad thing, as long as I keep it in check.  This red dress is once of those things that I really, truly love.  However, in the past few years that I've had it, I had only worn it a handful of times.  I realized that if it was going to be taking up precious space in my tiny closet, I needed to find a way to make it a little more casual for everyday wear.  The perfect opportunity arrived on my birthday.  I mean, if a fun, red dress doesn't say "Birthday Dress," I don't know what does.  (This is probably due to my love of Wee Sing videos as a child and my infatuation with Sally's flouncy red birthday dress.  Please tell me you know what I'm talking about!)

dress: Anthropologie vest: Levi's purse: J.Crew shoes: Converse necklace: The Bauble Dept.

During the day I needed something comfortable, appropriate for walking around the city and meeting my sister for breakfast.  So I layered the dress with my trusty denim vest (still getting a ton of wear out of this thing!), threw on a brown leather cross body purse, and laced up my chucks.  A pony tail and one of my favorite necklaces finished it off.  All in all, it wound up being a little patriotic, but I felt comfortable and cute all day long.

shoes: Cole Haan clutch: Anthropologie necklace: The Bauble Dept.

In the evening, Riley and I planned to try out a new (to us) restaurant for a nice dinner.  All I had to do was smooth out the ponytail wrinkles in my hair, ditch the vest, swap my chucks for heels and my cross body for a clutch (and change necklaces just for the fun of it) and I was ready in a flash.  For the record, I highly recommend Blue Apron Restaurant if you live in the area.  The entire meal was delicious, the presentation was beautiful, and the atmosphere was just what I was looking for.

I had so much fun with this little experiment and am excited to try to find new ways to wear some of my other favorites in my closet.  Are you good at mixing and matching your clothes and dressing them up and down?  I'm not the best at accessorizing, so I could use some tips if you have any to share!

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