asheville adventures

Saturdays off are woefully predictable for me, y’all.  They generally involve: coffee, laundry, free cooking demo at a local restaurant (attending, not teaching ha!), laundry, t.v./reading, sermon editing.  It was high time for a change, and so Ali, Hayden and I hopped in my lil’ red bug at 7:30 a.m. last Saturday morning for a road trip to Asheville to meet up with Erin and enjoy a bit of hipster charm (no, that is not a contradiction in terms).  ImageHayden enjoyed the ride perched on Ali’s lap, and even plopped his little head on her hand.  Such a flirt.Image

Here is a random accidental picture.  I don’t know what it was, but I kind of like it.  (Note to self, one should not take pictures while driving!)

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Here is a shot Ali got of the lovely mountains.  It was quite a drive (bit over 3.5 hours) but well worth it just for the sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  (And yes, I unfortunately did keep exclaiming, “Mountains, Gandalf!” the whole time.  I am too cool.)

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We reached a very drippy Asheville and enjoyed wandering through shops and bookstores.

ImageThe first place we went in was Hayden’s favorite…a bakery just for dogs.  Amazing.  He got a little treat and I also bought him a fetching purple harness collar, so as not to choke that precious little neck every time he pulls towards, oh, the next tree.  I think he really likes it.
ImageDrip, drip, drip.

ImageAli and Erin with their umbrella chic-ness.  We had lunch at a wonderful restaurant with outdoor covered/heated (it was a bit chilly) seating where Hayden could sit and watch me devour some phenomenal eggs benedict.  Poor tortured pooch.  But all the attention he received from strangers made up for it.

ImageRandom, quite talented busker in the arcade.

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My purchase on our jaunt (other than Hayden’s collar and a not-to-be-disclosed-here gift for my Sista) was this amazing upcycled (old materials used in a new way) mail bag purse.  It’s as quirky as Asheville and smells a bit like a Mexican market, which I kind of like.

All in all, ’twas a swell trip to Asheville, and well worth the very sleepy state I found myself in at 6:30 Sunday morning when my alarm went off.  Perhaps breaking the Saturday routine isn’t such a bad idea.  Though necessity dictates that I do, somewhere, squeeze in time for laundry.

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that long endures

ImageMy beloved sermonating spot at a local coffee shop, which never fails to be a place of peace and inspiration.  I write my sermons on Thursday afternoons and there’s something so wonderful about that space to myself to think, read and write.  And to gaze out the window at that beautiful tree.

An Irish blessing from my mom:
May love and laughter light your days
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world,
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons bring
the best to you and yours.

life is a highway

Two older gents driving down the highway, one with his hand waving out of the window enjoying the spring breeze.

A smile from a stranger.

Picking flowers from my yard and putting them in a mason jar on the breakfast table.

capturing life

Morning, chickadees.  It’s Tuesday, and I’m enjoying a morning at home because I have a Session meeting tonight and am trying to figure out this clergy life/work balance thing.  A good pastor friend told me to split my day in thirds (morning, afternoon, evening) and that I’m only allowed to work two of those, so if I’m working evening, I take the morning or afternoon off.  It makes sense to me.  And it means that when I inevitably get those calls of urgent pastoral need, I have the energy and ability to be there for someone right then.

Anywhoo, morning off.  I thought I should catch up on ye olde blog.  I have to admit, I’ve been thinking about my glimpses of grace blog quite a bit lately.  I’m in my eighth year of recording moments of grace in my days (wowza) and asked myself, “Why am I still doing this?”  It’s a helpful question to ask at any point I suppose.  I decided that I record these moments to capture life in the way that my sister does with her photography, to mark my days and be able to look back with gratitude and wonder for the ways God pops up in unexpected and ordinary ways.  And so I want to keep recording those moments here.  But I don’t want it to become a chore or an obligation…that zaps the grace right out of it.  So, I may not post on a daily basis (which I haven’t done in a while anyway), but whenever there’s something I want ingrained into the memory of my soul, or simply something I want to share with you lovely people, it’ll be here.  So, thanks for being a part of this journey.

Last week was one of those weeks where you have no idea how you’re finding energy to keep doing all there is to do.  I was exhausted: emotionally, spiritually, physically.  I was gratified by what I do, but just plum worn out.  My good friend from seminary Erin came to visit for the weekend.  And there really is nothing like showing someone else your life to make you appreciate it.  It was a wonderful recharging, cupcake-gorging, storytelling, wandering weekend.  Let me share some of it with y’all…

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We found a delightful cucakery (isn’t that just the best word??) in Southern Pines, one that catered to Erin’s gluten-free needs.  This is the glory of a nutella cupcake.  There are no words…except maybe YUM.  We wandered around (on a sugar high) and shopped and explored Southern Pines.  Erin loves that wee charming area as much as I do.Image

When we came home that evening, we had Big Plans to make some amazing risotto for dinner.  But nature had different plans.  We had a tornado watch, the power went out and so we ended up having a “tornado party” in the bathroom (where there were no windows) for an hour.  Then, tornado hazard over, we ventured to a place with electricity for dinner: Valentis.  They also happened to have gluten-free pizza, which was perfect.  We ran into a couple of church members there who had the same idea, which was fun.

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After going to bed at a disgraceful 9:30 p.m. because the lights were out, we got up to electricity!  We went back to Southern Pines and enjoyed coffee from Swank and the local Farmer’s Market, where some friends of mine were playing in their bluegrass band.  Hayden came, which meant that he was adored (and petted) by hordes of runny-nosed, delighted children.  He loved it.  We then had lunch at a new crepe place (you guessed it — they had gluten-free crepe batter!) and Erin succumbed to the call of an adorable pair of grey Toms.  Our stomachs acted of their own accord and led us to that same cupcakery and we got a couple to-go for tea time.  At home, we did the Alice in Wonderland thing.  And the cupcakes were, if possible, even better.

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Ali came that afternoon and we wandered through the painted barns of Cameron.  I love them.  We all took a bunch of pictures.

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(Fear not, I did not let Hayden go in any further!)ImageImageImageImageImageImage

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Then. having repurchased risotto necessities after some were spoiled in the fridge by no electricity, we made that Glorious Risotto: roasted chicken, sweet potato and asparagus risotto, scented with thyme and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.  Oh, y’all.  Again there are no words.Image

Saturday night we went to hear my same bluegrass friends play again at the Wine Cellar in Southern Pines.  Here’s my artsy picture of them.  I love that wine shop.  Very cozy and amusing, plus one who needs to preach the next morning can order a half glass of wine.  Perfect.  Erin came to church the next day and was quickly co-opted into the choir, which was so much fun.  After burgers with church members, she headed off back to Tennessee.  But we have plans to meet up in Asheville next Saturday for the day, which is about 3.5 hours for me and 1.5 for her.  Ali and I (with Hayden of course) will hit the road early and enjoy that quirky city.Image

Sunday afternoon, Hayden and I adopted the exact same position!  What a fun weekend.

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Since then, I’ve been nurturing my creativity a bit.  My friend Gina at the Sanford Herald had my picture taken doing yoga in the woods last week for the cover of their Health and Wellness issue.  Very fun.

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And last night, I finished my reworking my Nana and Papaw’s old record table.  (I should tell you that I was in fact working on it by candlelight the night of the power outage and was horrified to see how bad it looked in daylight the next morning!  I started over, and “love” it now.)

Happy Tuesday, y’all.

Peace,

Whit

still waters & cup running over

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Driving by peaceful still waters on my way home from speaking at a local Lion’s Club. I’m preaching on Revelation 7 and Psalm 23 this Sunday and so I kept thinking, “God leads me beside still waters.” Such a comforting thought.

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My friend Erin coming to visit, and bringing me a couple of coffee mugs she made just for me. I love them.

Laundry hung on a line, swinging with the breeze and whispering of a time gone by.

the light shines in the darkness

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The gift of new life, especially on such a sad day for those affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon and their families.  Jake Jackson decided to bring a little light today, and I have a feeling with such amazing parents (Karen & Rob), he’ll continue bringing much light his whole life long.  Welcome to this world, Jake!  We needed you.

whimsical leftovers

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Last night’s supper: asparagus and pancetta pizza with muenster and ricotta cheese. Yum. It’s a variation of my food column recipe for last week (click the picture). Tonight, it’s leftovers of this with a fried egg on top. Very yum.

A full and meaningful day, with more left to do tomorrow.

The whimsical joy I get from writing a weekly food column, and hearing from random people at 90th birthday parties, community services and grocery store parking lots who read said column and enjoy the recipes.

The sound of wind chimes outside the window.

She’s a Class Act!

She’s a Class Act!

Today is my wonderful Grandmother’s 85th birthday! Happy birthday to the classiest, most stylish lady I know! You are such a constant support and blessing to me. I love you!

three act play

THREE ACT PLAY

This lil’ Rev had quite a full vacation, y’all.  We can split that time into three acts: I. Nieces are Nice.  II. Relaxing in Vtown.  III. Atlanta Extravaganza.  Let’s begin, shall we?

I. Nieces are Nice

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I had so much fun with my precious nieces and with my sister and bro-in-law.  It’s wonderful to feel so completely relaxed and welcomed.  I kept the girls home from school for two whole days just to play.  We cuddled in bed watching movies…

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Colored beautiful masterpieces…Image

(Gigi also excitedly colored her nails…)

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We played an EPIC game of Hide and Seek, and though the girls hid in the same place every single time, they loved it.ImageImage

Livie-Love loved looking adorable on the floor


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We got our hair did purty.ImageImageImageImageWe played, played, played on the playground right by their house.  I invented a game where the swing set area was a big boat, the grass was water and sticks were magic wands to keep the octopus away.  So they basically ran around screaming bringing me “wands” and laughing.  Olivia placidly watched it all from the comfort of her swing.
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We had an early 5th birthday party for Natalie complete with cookies shaped in the letters of our names (N for Nat, G for Gigi, W for Weeza and O for Olivia).

ImageThere were also amazing princess rings and presents (and, yes, more coloring).  It was fabulous.

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(Weeza also drank a serious amount of coffee to keep up with those energetic gals!)  Now we move onto Act 2:

II.  Relaxing in Vtown

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ImageVictoria was relaxing as ever.  We watched Out of Africa and enjoyed a bit of time in the back yard.ImageI love this license plate!

Image(Oh and I drank more coffee.)

ImageGrandmother came and we had a wonderful time cooking Mexican food (and of course eating it).  I also updated the pig in my parents’ kitchen with some helpful wisdom from Julia.

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My dear friend Ashley and I met up to do what we do best: shop at Goodwill.  It’s possible I’m wearing the top I found there for $2 as I type. 🙂  Onto Act 3…

III.  Atlanta Extravaganza

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My friend Melissa got married Saturday!  So after getting back Friday night on a large (expensive) flying bird, I got up bright and early the next morning and drove with my friend Mary to the ATL for the festivities.  Mary, Melissa and I were all Young Adult Volunteers in Belfast.  The wedding was beautiful: quirky enough to know it was Melissa’s and romantic enough to know that what Melissa and Scott have is real.  We ate smores cupcakes and tapas, drank wine outside while listening to a couple of her friends jam on the guitar and accordion and generally had a wonderful time.  ImageI found time to meet another wonderful friend, Maggie, for coffee at the Java Monkey, an old haunt of mine.  Man that was a good cappuccino!  And, as always, a deep, sensitive and cathartic conversation.  Love that gal.Image

Mary and I stayed at Columbia Seminary’s campus, in their guestrooms.  And so as wonderfully full-circle as it was to gather with my old Belfast peeps, it was the same to be at Columbia nearly 5 years after graduating.  Some things are quite a bit different, but many of my favorite trees are still there, so I’m happy.
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Before hopping in my red bug for the 6.5 hour journey back to North Carolina, the gracious Melissa and Scott invited us to meet them for brunch.  This is smokey salmon eggs benedict.  Oh, y’all, there are no words.  Except maybe stupendous.

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Back home again, I eased into the week by getting bulletin stuff all sorted out and enjoying time with my poor abandoned dog.  I also gave my house a spring cleaning like no other.  A great feeling.Image

And, just as I was enjoying the warm spring weather and cherry blossom trees, I bent down to pick a few clovers to put on my bedside table.  Right in front of me was a four-leaf one.  I have looked for one of these guys in Ireland lots and never found it.  I guess there’s just luck in North Carolina.  It’s good to be home.

good things come in threes

My ridiculously talented sista took some delightful pictures of me and my sweet nieces today. We had so much fun playing all day long. I’ll share more pics from all the fun soon!

Ah, family time.

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