Like many people, I’ve always been interested in food and living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve struggled a lot with my weight in the past and have been confused by the many different advertised ways to eat healthy. After reading many a self-help book about being healthy I’ve determined that the best way to ensure good health is to learn how to cook. It’s so, SO simple and yet, most of the time we find ourselves coming up with excuses not to do it. I’ve always had basic skills in the kitchen but I grew up on lean cuisines and hoagies for dinner most nights. Definitely not the best eating habits but I’m determined to change that.
This year I’ve really dedicated myself to cooking more often because I hate that food has amounted to being either processed or overpriced in a restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating out, however I’ve noticed that since I’ve stopped eating out as often I’ve saved a lot of money and have been able to eat much better quality foods. My body has thanked me for it as I have more energy than ever and I feel happier.
At the beginning of the summer, I watched this documentary and it really changed my perspective on the way I eat. While I admit that I’m a sucker for a big dramatic documentary, I have to say that this one really hit home with me. I’m not going to be only eating for medicinal purposes now but I have tried to make some lifestyle changes because of this movie. I really do believe that plant based foods are so much healthier than animal products and I’ve tried to limit the animal products I consume. The biggest thing I’ve changed however, is my consumption of processed foods. Through cooking I’ve started opening my palate to fresh whole foods.
This summer I made a pact to only buy foods from local sources. I did most of my weekly grocery shopping on Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market and if I run out of groceries I’ll walk to one of our local grocery stores. I tried Relay Foods again but I never know what I’m going to need for the week until the day I decide I’m going to cook so that doesn’t usually work for me since you have to order ahead of time.
Although it’s been a little challenging at times, I’ve really enjoyed spending more time preparing food in the kitchen and getting outside and walking to pick up my food rather than having to drive somewhere. I realize I’m one of the lucky few people who has access to food within walking distance of me but I might as well use the resources while they’re available. Not everyone is so lucky. I really enjoy what I’ve been cooking up lately and I’m having fun experimenting in the kitchen. I’d love to post some pictures of the things I’ve cooked but so far its just been random combinations of vegetables and the spices in my pantry. I will definitely post some great recipes if I come upon any.
I’ve been contemplating the Whole30 program but I’m going to Napa Valley at the end of September and there is no way I’d pass up the chance to drink wine in wine country. I’ll probably start the program anyway (yes I know its cheating but whatever I can always start over when I get back). So as I get started I’ll keep everyone updated with the recipes I find. I’m planning on making a few big meals at the beginning of the week so this weekend is going to be spent meal prepping and grocery shopping.
Do you ever feel creative with nothing to say? I find that sometimes I do a few blog peruses and I get all excited and inspired by other artists but can’t really form words to describe the way I feel. Information overload if you will. So today, I’ll share my thoughts by linking to two
of my current favorite things.
Call Your Girlfriend-THIS.PODCAST.IS.EVERYTHING. I don’t even feel the need to explain further. Listen ladies, Amina and Ann are total badasses and exemplify everything I feel in life. I feel like every podcast is basically a Skype date with my best friend so I’m really glad this exists for the days when I miss her most and we don’t have time to catch up.
First Listen– Billy introduced me to The Foreign Exchange this year and I’m so excited that I got into them right before they dropped a new album. Asking for a Friend is such a catchy song and I’ve been listening to it on repeat on Spotify at work this week. Luckily, the full album has been available on NPR’s first listen and I think it’s also up on apple music now too. I will say I enjoyed their last album, Love in Flying Colors more. However, Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey did not disappoint and I’ve only listened to it once so far.
I originally had more ideas planned for linking but I started class this week and I’ve been busy at work. I’ll try to find a few more fun things to share for next week.
It’s hard to believe that it is already the end of August. Usually the summer drags on for me because I cannot stand the heat but its hard to believe that fall is slowly creeping up on us. I can’t wait for cool weather, sweaters, and warm drinks. The mornings have been a little bit cooler-nice enough so that I’m not sweating on my walk in to work every day which is nice, I’m sure my coworkers appreciate it. Another thing that the end of summer means is the beginning of the harvest season for vineyards.
I work at a local vineyard in my spare time and last night we had our harvest season kickoff party. It was really fun gathering for dinner and talking to the winemakers at Michael Shaps and Grace Estate Winery. I love working for Michael Shaps in my spare time because I’m learning so much about wines and all of the hard work that goes into the making process. The cool thing about the winery is that its a custom crush facility, which means they make Michael’s wines along with a lot of other local vineyards. Michael also has a vineyard in France and we have a special tasting menu with just French wines. It’s been a lot of fun learning about different vintages and the whole process of viticulture.
I’m sure that the beginning of Harvest Season means a lot of exhaustion for most of the people who work there but for me it just means I get to learn a lot from the background. My plan is to mostly just stay out of the way and pick up a few extra shifts to help out in the tasting room but just being in the vineyard during this time is so exciting.
Last weekend I had plenty to keep my busy (hence, my late posting tonight). I’ve been working at Michael Shaps Wineworks on Sundays so I’ve been trying to pack as much as possible into my Saturdays. I started the my weekend with an early morning workout and meeting up with some of my old sorority sisters who are still in town for breakfast. I say “old sorority” because they were the girls who were a part of Sigma Delta before we recieved our charter and officially became Sigma Delta Tau. These were the girls who really had my back. Most of them were older than me so they provided a form of guidance for me to look up to my first and second years in college. These girls were my biggest supporters, encouraging me to run for executive board and to challenge rules from the beginning. It was so nice to have a group of us together to catch up and I can’t wait for the next hang out.
After brunch, I got in my car to find that it would not start. Ugh. After checking to make sure that I had not left any lights on I determined that whatever was wrong was not my fault. I got my car jump started and found that I needed to go immediately to buy a new battery since mine was donezo. After having a mini panic attack about how my car is getting older and will eventually start needing me to put money into it I calmed down and thanked my lucky stars that it was just a battery that needed a replacement. Things could be worse, and now I know how to replace a car battery. Add that to the list of things I know how to do but will never actually do myself because my dad does it for me along with changing my oil and a flat tire. Actually, that’s false, I have changed a flat before on my own. The battery I’ll avoid however because, knowing me, I’d shock myself and go into cardiac arrest.
I finished the morning by running errands and enjoying the nice weather while I shopped. By the time I got home it was almost 5 pm and I was exhausted. I rallied though and ended my evening downtown with friends for drinks.
I’ve lived in Charlottesville for 6 years now. When I first moved here for college I was excited to branch out and learn all of the new things college had to offer. When I graduated, I still didn’t feel like I had exhausted all of my opportunities here so it felt natural that I would stay. Now that I’ve been out of school for 2 years, I’ve started to get the feeling that something needs to change about my life outside of work. This summer was a major transition for me with a new job starting and learning how to work independently in an office. Now that I have a handle on that (most days), I feel like I’m ready to start focusing on my social life again.
Outside of work, I haven’t had many new experiences. Most of my friends in town are nurses and residents from the hospital which, don’t get me wrong, is great but I still feel like something has been missing. I miss the diversity though. I remember in college the whole reason I joined a sorority was to get away from my nursing friends (which was basically a sorority in itself). So I’m really excited to join what is basically an adult version (much less stress/drama, way more friendtime and giving back to the community). I just began my Provisional year with the Junior League of Charlottesville and I could not be more excited.
We had our first orientation last night and now I’m stoked to start getting involved as events pop up. I’m also excited to start volunteering again. The only volunteering I’ve done since college has been with the PB&J fund which is a local non-profit that focuses on teaching food-insecure children and families how to eat healthier with cheaper options (i.e. through cooking). It’s amazing and I can’t wait to start up again but I’m also excited about the various different opportunities Junior League is going to open up for me too.
Aside from the volunteering, I’d be lying if I said the main reason I joined JLC wasn’t to make new friends in town because it definitely is. I’m happy to have something to look forward to besides going to the gym and cooking in the evenings. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those, I’d just really enjoy having more friends in town to do those things with. I can already tell I’m going to mesh really well with the women in the League and for the first time in a while I’m feeling excited about something new in my life.
This weekend went by way too fast. Seriously, it felt like I got home from work on Friday only to have it be Monday morning again. And now the week is already flying by. On Saturday, I woke up early and hit the Rivanna Trail for a four mile run before walking downtown to the city market. I still have a lot of food in my refrigerator but I realized I hadn’t eaten a single fruit all week so I was on a mission. I ended up buying some deliciously plump and fresh blackberries from Agriberry farm to take home. I also got a loaf of Great Harvest’s Dakota bread that I’ve been craving for a while.
Shortly after coming home, I headed to Crutchfield and bought a new camera which I talked about here. I couldn’t wait to get started using it so I took it with me for the rest of the day. Billy and I drove down to Lovingston to check out Trager Brother’s Coffee. It was cute and just the kind of place I love to hang out in. The roastery is in an old garage and they’ve set it up so you can have a cup of coffee while seeing what the equipment looks like. I enjoyed a Hazelnut latte and Billy had a double espresso shot while we sat at the counter and chatted with the sweet girl who worked there. It was a great experience and I’m so glad we went out there because I usually don’t like Trager Brothers (they own Higher Grounds in the hospital and that coffee is usually too bitter for me. However, I lived off it on night shifts). I’ll definitely give some of their lighter roasts a try now.
After we finished our coffee we decided to see what local farms were in the area and, after asking around, ended up at Saunders Peach Orchard. This place was my favorite part of the day. I LOVE going to farms and buying my produce straight from the farmer and I’m such a sucker for homemade anything. Since I really wanted some fruit I got a 1/2 peck of peaches and a peach ice cream cone (so delicious). They also had these old timey farm equipment pieces on display and the owner of the farm was walking around telling people about what everything does. Billy made fun of me for saying that I wanted to live on a farm one day but I wasn’t kidding! When I’m finally ready to purchase a house it will definitely be one with a lot of land.
After enjoying the orchard, we headed back north and stopped at a few vineyards along the way. First, we stopped at DelFosse which was beautiful but I didn’t like any of their wines. The next place we stopped was Loving Cup and I’m so glad we did! Loving Cup is an organic vineyard-the only one in the state. During our tasting (which was only $3) we had the opportunity to talk to the owner who explained about how the grapes he grows are not native to Virginia but were actually hybrid varietals created at a couple of different colleges throughout the country to be resistant to disease without needing to spray pesticides all over them. All of the wines we had were delicious and it was fun to try out new grapes.
We ended the day back home with a little Mexican food from my favorite college restaurant-El Jarepeo. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten there and I was instantly reminded of the time half my nursing class skipped geriatrics (I swear it was the only class I’ve ever skipped) to get margaritas. With the college kids coming back this week for school to start, it was a nice reminder of the good ol’ days (and a reminder to stay away from the college as its about to be overcrowded again). I really had enjoyed my quiet lunch break runs to the corner while they lasted.
I’ve always been interested in photography as a hobby but never really figured out how to get into it. Since I’ve already announced that I would be going to Africa in February, I decided that this would be a good push for me to finally get into it. That way, when I go on my trip I’ll know I will have a lot of great visual memories to treasure when I get back. I also wanted something that would take better quality photos than my iphone for uploading to my blog/social media (if you notice in the first couple of posts I have from January, my pictures leave much to be desired. Although that probably has more to do with the photographer/background/lighting than the camera itself).
I’ve spent the past few weeks researching cameras for beginners and deciding what would be best for what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want a regular point and shoot camera because I have an iphone so that seemed silly. And I obviously wasn’t about to shell out loads of cash for a fancy camera I couldn’t figure out how to use. So I set to researching and ended up finding a mirrorless camera with the ability to swap out lenses that I really liked. I purchased the Sony a5100 last weekend and spent some time testing it out. While the camera has some really neat smart features, I’m excited to start learning how to use it in manual mode.
I’ve found a few articles that have detailed the basics but I find them a little confusing without a subject to actually focus on with my camera in hand. In the coming weeks I’ll start bringing my camera out and playing with it (I’ll have a lot more pictures to share now on my blog). And, as the summer is ending, I’m sure the fall will bring out some lovely subjects here in Charlottesville.