Sunday, October 31, 2010

happy halloween!

It was our fourth Halloween & we had our first trick-or-treater! We were so excited when the doorbell rang & a little fairy was standing there. We also got to skype with a really cute lady bug tonight...Hannah! Babies in costumes = awesome.

I had great intentions to post my favorite pumpkin recipes today (dinner in a pumpkin...which we enjoyed last night, Mom's yummy pumpkin bars, Katie's pumpkin pancakes, Liz's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, & pumpkin spice cake), but the day slipped away! I'll have to post those another day!

{Photo shot last weekend in Blowing Rock, NC.... Miss those posts? Click here!}

Friday, October 29, 2010

Autumn in the Mountains {Day 2}

{Psst...if you missed Day 1 of our little camping trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, click here!}

Thankfully, we didn't wake up as ice cubes on Sunday morning. Whatever the reason (Was Saturday night was warmer than chilly Friday? Did the soup we ate for dinner warmed us up from the inside? Or maybe wearing every stitch of clothing we had with us kept us more insulated?), I could feel my feet on Sunday morning so I knew it'd be a good day. After a hot breakfast, breaking down our tent & packing up, we hit the road & made our way to Moses Cone Memorial Park. I couldn't tell you what Mr. Cone did for a living, but whatever it was, he made enough moolah to build a gorgeous home on a breathtaking piece of land....
Apparently, in addition to hiking the grounds, browsing their "Craft Center" (a.k.a. glorified gift shop), you could also take horse & buggy rides. We passed... but we did enjoy meandering the grounds.
And boy oh boy were those grounds gorgeous...
Our little party of four five (counting Riley!), was a little sleepy and stinky that morning after a long day of hiking & no showers.  Matt was going for the pajama model look & Dave enjoyed "reclining" on a hill. I was smart enough not to let anyone take my photo...
We parted ways at Moses Cone & Matt & I took a short detour to Blowing Rock, NC. I'd been there ages ago with my family, but Matt hadn't ever checked out this charming mountain town. It was teeming with tourists checking out all of the high-end shops (Matt told me "This place is like Disney world for old people!"), so we felt a little out of place in our pajamas....errr....sweats.
Ladies, if you haven't read Jan Karon's Mitford Series, and you're looking for a sweet, heartwarming, engaging read ... pick them up! Mitford is a fictional North Carolina mountain town based on Blowing Rock. This is how I envisioned Father Tim's parish when I read the books years ago...

And lastly, here's my favorite Blowing Rock photo... Love the fall colors!
After our quick trip to Blowing Rock, we were fortunate enough to get to meet up with our friends, Kevin & Lara, who moved to Boone this summer from Durham. We were in small group together at The Summit, and we were sad to see them move, but also equally excited for them. They are both App State grads and they were itching to head back to the mountains. Can you blame them?!

After a delicious lunch at a funky, burrito place (can't for the life of me remember the name...but it was yummy...Matt had the "white trash" burritto and I had some sort of Jamaican Jerk variety) , they graced us with a tour of App State. What a great campus! Sadly, I forgot to take a photo with our friends... probably good not to have a photo of us, but those 2 looked like they walked out of a Banana Republic catalog! A darling couple...Sorry for my forgetfulness!
Although we probably missed the height of the fall coclor by a week or two, the campus had a few vibrant trees...
After saying goodbye to Lara & Kevin, we hit the road to head back to Chapel Hill. About 20 miles west of Winston-Salem, we made a split second decision to pull off the highway and say "hi" to our friends, Carson & Nicole, & they were kind enough to allow us to swing by at such short notice. They even fed us! What awesome friends! I already shared one cute photo of Liam, but here are some other faves. Can't get enough of that boy!
So there you have it, friends! Our whirlwind weekend in the mountains...Thanks for reading along!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Autumn in the Mountains {Day 1}

{Psst... Once you're done reading this marathon post, day 2 in the mountains can be found here. Sorry for the photo overload. It took me awhile to upload all of these so I'm sure it'll take awhile on your end, too! I promise it'll be worth your while, just get a snack while you're waiting!} 

Since our future is so up in the air, Matt & I are trying to take advantage of everything North Carolina has to offer. If we could have it our way, we'd relocate to the mountains permanently, but since (sadly) there are no dental schools off the Blue Ridge Parkway, we just sneak up there when we can. This weekend we packed up the Jeep with our camping gear & made the 3 hour drive after work on Friday to Julian Price Campground off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Doesn't our Jeep look like this is where it belongs? I think our car was as happy for a trip to the Parkway as us.
We didn't arrive until after 8 so that meant we had to set up the tent in the dark. It's a good thing we've camped so much that we're pros at pitching our tent now; last year we did it in the dark, pouring rain at Julian Price! After we drove in the last stake, we jumped into our sleeping bags & called it a night. We didn't get much sleep because it was freezing! Our friends in Boone said that it got down to the mid-20s on Friday.... Brrrr.... North Face, are you reading this? Your mummy sleeping bags are supposed to keep us warm to 20 degrees, but we can assure you that they did not! Here we are trying to warm up. When I asked Matt why he was standing on our picnic table, he told me (very seriously), "heat rises." Brilliant... that husband of mine.
As we wrapped up our usual camping breakfast (oatmeal with craisins...yummy & warm), our friends Lori & Dave (and their pup, Riley) arrived. Lori & my big sis, Katie, were college roommates at UF & are great friends. Lori & Dave relocated to NC a few months before we did & we're so thankful to have Florida friends close by! They also love to camp & hike so we were eager to spend the weekend in the mountains with them. After they located a campsite (the campground was packed!) & set up, we hit the trails!
Our first stop was the Daniel Boone Scout Trail, which is part of Grandfather Mountain State Park (but here's a don't have to pay the big entrance fees for Grandfather!). This trail offers beautiful views of the Blue Ridge mountains, valleys & Parkway. The curvy road in the photo below is the Linn Cove Viaduct, an "engineering marvel" of the Parkway. Near the top of the trail, there are ladders/cables to the peak (which Matt & I tackled last year), but this year we decided would be a little difficult for Riley to get up & down so we turned around.
The fall colors were spectacular, but most of my photos are pretty light due to the bright sun, so I increased the shadows this one so that you can see all of the layers of color....
One crazy part of this hike is that there is a plane wreck just off the trail... I read somewhere it's from the 60s or 70s. Not sure why they never cleaned up the wreckage. I guess it stays as a warning: don't fly in fog! (I'll spare you the photos...just kind of creepy). Instead, here's a closer look at the fall colors...
After a quick snack, Dave drove us down the Parkway to Linville Falls. Matt & I have been there twice before, but this was by far the prettiest we've ever seen the falls. The autumn colors were gorgeous, which is probably why we weren't alone (not by a long shot). The place was packed! Here's Lori & Dave at the Upper Falls... such a good looking couple! (If you missed it, here are our photos from the same spot...)
Let me tell you, both couples took advantage of having an extra set of hands to take photos! When Matt & I travel together we get a lot of solo shots. We even found a friendly hiker to snap a group shot!
We had a little photo shoot with Riley, too. She's a 10 month old, Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab mix...hence the mohawk on her back. Riley's such a sweet pup and a great hiker!
Check out the natural beauty of Linville Falls.The center photo is of the Lower Falls... I am loving that colorful backdrop!
Here's my favorite photo from Linville.'s not even of the falls!
We stopped for some photo-ops on the way back to our campground...
Even though Dave graciously stopped for me to snap some photos, below is (surprisingly) my favorite shot right out of the car window. Have I mentioned, I love the Blue Ridge Parkway?
Alright, folks, I think I'm going to have to cover day 2 tomorrow! I'm worn out from all of these photos... Coming tomorrow: Moses Cone, Blowing Rock, Boone/App State, & quick detour to Winston-Salem!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

See the resemblance?

On the way home from the mountains this weekend (I promise to put up photos from that camping/hiking trip later this week), we took a quick detour off the highway to say a quick "hello" to our friends the Felkels in Winston-Salem. I pulled out the camera to get a few shots of Liam & he struck this pose (please excuse the remnants of dinner on his chin & shirt).
 ....I think he has a future in football...Or maybe child modeling....

link love.

My friend, Courtney, is trying to drum up some interest for her home reno blog, so I decided to share the love today here on Simply Suz! Here's a snapshot of what they're up to...
Welcome to the Anderson's journey of home renovation and design. We recently bought our first home and are excited to transform our outdated house into a beautiful home. We're learning a lot along the way, and wanted to document our progress for friends and family to see!
While I'm at it, I add a brand-spanking new page for you... Under "Welcome Friends" in the right hand column, click on Link Love to see a list of all of my favorite blogs! Do it! Maybe you'll find a new read (just promise me you'll come right back here to Simply Suz!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Fall from the McAs!

We spent the weekend in the beautiful North Carolina mountains with some fun friends! I'll post some pretty photos later, but until then ... here's a taste! (If I didn't already have a Christmas card photo picked out, I'd be inclined to use this one!)
 Or maybe this one... We're accustomed to traveling solo so we appreciated Lori & Dave's snapping a few photos for us!
{Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway}

....Stay tuned for more!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photos of the Week: Favorites!

In case you felt overwhelmed by the crazy number of photos I posted on Wednesday 
(I know I was when I went back & looked at my post), here are my favorites from this week....
Cupcakes (to eat & drink) for Girls Night!
Love the light in this photo from Occoneechee.
Nice skillz on this one, Matt!
Baked with love by Matt Mac.
I'm a sucker for an unexpected perspective.
Hope you had a great week, too!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

4 years ago yesterday...

...Matt asked me to marry him. So glad I said yes...
Buckingham Fountain. Chicago. October 20, 2006.

I don't think I would have guessed that four years later we'd be living in North Carolina, he'd be interviewing for dental school & I'd be sitting here writing a blog about it, but I'm so thankful I get to walk alongside him every day.
"The Bean" at Millennium Park. Chicago. October 20, 2006.
Love you, Matt. Thanks for loving me back.
Art Institute of Chicago. October 20, 2006.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This is what a great week looks like.

Did I mention I had a great birthday week? (That's right. As my friend Mel pointed out, "yes, I think you should claim the whole week." ...  I concur, especially when your hubby isn't present for the actual birthday). It's been awesome. Lots of hanging out with my main man, Matt, and also with some sweet friends.     

Here's a run down in photos of the past few days....
While Matt interviewed at UNC Saturday morning, my weekend kicked off bright & early at Habitat Women's Build in Durham. That's right, a house built almost entirely by women for a sweet local lady (& also member of our church!) & her daughters. There were "a few good men" on the worksite, but mostly it was just the gals. I have done Habitat / Group Workcamps several times before, & I must say I loved working on a house with just women. Fewer egos. More questions. More "can I give you a hand?" We loved it & are already planning on helping out another weekend this fall!

(Not photoed: Nicole, hammerer-extraordinaire who had to leave early. Have to give her credit for her mad-hammering skills).

Psst.... click on any of these photos collages to enlarge! Shoot. I lied. Anyone know why blogger won't let us open up our photos in a new window. What gives?!?
On Sunday, Matt & I headed north to Hillsborough to the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area. We're trying to hit all the hiking spots close by & so we decided that the highest point in Orange County would be a good stop (don't be impressed, it's definitely not hardcore). It was a pretty day, and we had fun goofing around as evidenced below. Give it a week or 2 & this area is going to be bursting with color! After our hike, we stopped at an antique shop to browse (Matt gave in for my bday) & then enjoyed some yummy ice cream on the porch at Maple View Farm.
When we got home, Matt whipped me up a yummy birthday dinner (ribeye, PW's cheesy spicy grits, and salad) and we enjoyed the delicious cake he'd baked for me earlier in the day. He also prepared Monday night's dinner (manicotti!) so that we could take it easy after work Monday. I love it when he gets domestic.
On Tuesday (my actual birthday), I dropped Matt off at the airport (for yet another interview - can you say awesome dental school candidate?!) and then came home to put the finishing touches on these yummy raspberry cupcakes for my small group ladies. (Click here for some other great cupcake recipes!) My friend Kendra also celebrated her 26th this week, so we had a joint little birthday party. I love these girls and felt so blessed to get to spend so much quality time with them.
All in all, it was a great week (so far). I'm off again to head to the airport! My hubby is home! Goodnight!!!


today i turned 26. well, technically, yesterday (seeing that it's 1 am!). matt had to go out of town for an interview this afternoon, so we decided to get the festivities started a little early & celebrated on sunday... and monday, too. i have some fun photos from our weekend, which i'll for sure share here on the blog. seeing that being alone on your birthday seems just wrong, i spent the evening hanging out with some really dear friends (holler, summit ladies small group!), including, one kendra hancock who also turned 26 on monday! happy (belated) birthday, kendra! we ate cupcakes, popped open a few bottles of wine & had some good old fashioned girl time. it was wonderful. based on how i ushered in "26" i have a feeling this year is going to be fabulous.

for being so far away from my "homes" (florida & illinois), i felt such an outpouring of love today. birthdays are good for that. for being reminded of the people you love & who love you back. i love the phone calls (7 people sang "happy birthday" to me today). i love that i got to chat with my little brother, who rarely picks up the phone to call me, but makes an exception for birthdays. i love opening emails & cards from dear friends & family especially when they include mini-updates on their lives. heck, i'd be lying if i said i didn't like checking the out-of-control facebook wall or getting a sweet shout-out on someone else's blog (does it count that she's one of my bffs?)! most of all, i love having an excuse to catch up & spend time (even if it's just "phone time") with some of my favorite people.

i guess what i'm trying to say is ..... thanks for the love today, folks ..... love you back.

(p.s. matt made that cake for me! all i had to do was snap the photo! have i mentioned i have the sweetest hubs?!?)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Photos of the Week: Liam...Is he not the cutest?!

I've been waiting for quite some time to share these ones. This is Nicole's little man about a month ago at our house.
Okay! That's all for now folks. I'm through day 1 & a half of our 14 day trip in our Alaska book. I need motivation!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

blurbing...not to be confused with blogging...

At 10:30 this evening, I decided to start working on my book chronicling (mostly in photographs), our trip to Alaska. Blurb is having a sale through the end of October, which is always solid motivation for me to get going on a book project. Tonight I worked on the cover & the first half of "day one" of our two weeks in Alaska & it took me a solid 2.5 hours, so I'm not feeling optomistic about finishing up this project by October 31st, let alone the end of the year.

I tell you this to let you know that the blog break continues... If you need some light reading in the interim, check out my Alaska posts (if you haven't already!)
  1. Journey to Alaska/Denali  - Click here!
  2. Denali - Part 1  - Click here!
  3. Denali - Part 2  - Click here!
  4. Kenai - Part 1  - Click here!
  5. Kenai - Part 2  - Click here!
  6. Anchorage - Click here!
Sheesh! It's one a.m. This little lady needs to get some sleep so I can be bright-eyed for work tomorrow! I'll be back on Thursday with a photo of the week! Promise!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

blog break.

this was a marathon week, friends. in the past 8 days, matt & i each returned from out-of-state trips. we've hosted overnight guests, sold our car (yep, the dead one - we listed & sold it within a 20 hour period), ran almost everyday outside (can't pass up this beautiful fall weather), cooked/baked a ton, spent time with friends at birthday celebrations, dinner & small group.... all on top of our usual go to work, do chores, etc... schedule.

somehow, amidst the crazy, i managed to squeeze in 6 blog posts! - well, technically 7 if you count this one. what?!? that's a new record for me. so i'm taking a break. i don't have the kind of stamina/time required to blog everyday. hence, i need the weekend (& maybe next whole week?...we'll see) to catch up.

we were initially planning on going to the mountains this weekend to camp & hike, but matt still has to finish up an application for an interview next week, i need to scrub the floors & start working on a couple new blurb books (alaska & yr 1 in carolina...) & we both need to catch up on all of the sleep we've deprived ourselves. so this weekend is about being homebodies. hopefully we'll have time to be both productive & squeeze in some relaxation (& college football!). thankfully, the mountains aren't going anywhere, so we'll hit them up later this fall.

have a restful weekend... see you back here when i'm all caught up!
{You can find us on the couch this weekend}

Friday, October 8, 2010

A story about a friend (who just so happens to be celebrating a birthday)

3 years ago, I met a sweet, young, married lady named Nicole. Matt & I immediately bonded with her & her hubby, Carson. Before we knew it, we were spending every weekend with those 2.
Wake-Stanford Game. Winston-Salem. September 2009.
We went on adventures together....
Brookfield Zoo. December 2007.
We had dinner together almost every weekend (on a rotating schedule - their apt, our apt)...
Halloween 2007 or 2008 (Who knows!?)
We worked out together... ran & biked in races together...
Indianapolis Half Marathon. October 2008.
On several occasions, we acted very immaturely together....
Shenanigans. IN & NC. 2008-2009.
We traveled together....& did a ton of hiking together...
North Carolina. New Years 2009.
We stayed close as their family grew....
Wrigley Felkel. North Carolina. New Years 2010 & May 2010.
And then grew some more...
Introducing Liam. February 2010.
And we were overjoyed to welcome Little Liam to our fabulous foursome fivesome.
We love the new addition. 2010.
They became a part of our Chicago family & we were adopted into their North Carolina family...
A year ago, they convinced us that North Carolina would be a great place to call home... so we packed our bags & headed south to Chapel Hill....and then 4 months ago, they packed their bags & headed south to Winston-Salem...And we couldn't be happier to have them close by again....
We brought the fun to the south! Various adventures. North Carolina. Spring-Summer 2010.
In all this togetherness, I have grown to love Nicole (& Carson, Liam, & Wrigs...), but especially Nicole. She has been my confidant & best friend. Someone who I can call on in a moments notice (& I have). Someone who understands the ups & downs of our relatively young marriages. We've celebrated joys, mourned losses & shared life together. I am so thankful for her...& hope she feels loved & celebrated today.
BFFs. Winston. July 2010.
Happy 26th Birthday, Nicole! LOVE YOU!
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