Bird and Belle's Adventures in Marriage


Bikes, ducks and a sandwich recipe

Two Saturday’s ago Bird and I hopped on our bikes and ventured downtown to run errands. The price of gas is becoming ridiculous and every mile we can avoid driving saves pennies (or dimes). We started by biking to the Chevy Chase neighborhood for a coffee then wandered next door to a local running shop to purchase a new pair of sneakers for my stinky feet. Next we biked to the farmers market where we loaded up on goodies to make an amazing fresh tomato sauce. I think my favorite thing about summer eating is the sauce I create using locally grown heirloom tomatoes. Nothing. Compares.

On our way home we stopped by the pond to visit the geese. The babies are almost as big as their parents now and you have to look closely to spot them in the crowd.

As we watched the geese we noticed two TINY birds scooting across the water. “Are those ducklings?” I asked. We crept closer and sure enough, they were two baby mallards taking their first swim. Piled at the pond edge were the rest of the ducklings squeaking and peeping for their mamma to return. After a few minutes of worrying that mamma might be gone and we might have to raise a flock of ducks we heard urgent quaking and in swept mamma mallard. She seemed alarmed that two ducklings had decided to take a swim without her around and quacked loudly to get the babies to come to her. It took a lot of paddling and squeaking, but the ducklings finally caught up. The entire experience was just amazing and adorable.

I love that the baby geese still swim with their parent in a single file line.

Such a big baby!


Snuggling ducklings. So stinking adorable.

Mama and babies.

After a while we peddled back home and I whipped up a delicious lunch of open faced zucchini and carrot sandwiches using goodies from the CSA share. The sandwiches were so good that I thought I would share the recipe!


Belle’s Open Faced Sammich

1 TBS olive oil
An equal portion of zucchini and carrots, shredded (we used our food processor with the shredding attachment and it worked wonderfully)
1 or 2 handfuls of chopped green onions (depending on how many onions you fancy)
2 cloves minced fresh garlic (more if you want to not make any new friends that afternoon)
Several tablespoons fresh basil Chiffonade
Red pepper flakes to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add your garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for a minute. Add the green onions and sauté another minute.  Add the shredded veggies and cook until they reach the softness you desire (I like mine still crispy so I cooked them for about five minutes). Add the basil cook for an additional minute. Salt and pepper to taste and then remove pan from heat and cover.



Ravens Run, Lexington

I woke up this morning and powered through what I expected would be a very successful blog re-do. I dug through the templates’ CSS sheet, made a pile of edits and got things just how I wanted it and then went to apply the new style sheet and found myself with a bunch of nothing. Evidently while I can muck through CSS, I still don’t have a clue how to execute the changes. Alas, maybe I’ll have better luck tomorrow.

Frustrated with my lack of success, I meandered upstairs to see if Bird wanted some fresh air. After a quick breakfast we loaded up the camera, some water and a few snacks and went to spend two hours hiking around Ravens Run. The sky was overcast and the air damp and heavy with the promise of an afternoon rain. The overcast sky created perfect lighting to photograph the tiny wild flowers dotting the hill sides. Here are a few photos of the exciting things we found…


Sweet little purple flowers.

There is a little brown spider hiding in this flower.

The forest floor was covered in tiny little plants with fresh green leaves. It was inspiring to see so much new life!

Some of the flowers were very difficult to photograph without leaving the trail.

The water was way too cold to wade in.

The algae was so green that it looked almost fake.

The run.

These were my favorite! Aren't they unusual looking?

One impressive bud.

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Santa in Training

Noah Hines

I think the best thing about babies is getting to dress them up in outfits and costumes. Seriously, such a tiny little person to dress up as say, I don’t know… a hot dog, or maybe a Santa or elf. I also find babies in little blue jeans to be adorable. Add a plaid flannel shirt and you have created my kind of baby (extra points if the flannel is brown!) I think it takes a special kind of parent to dress their baby up in something other than Onesies®. These parents are commiting themselves to the arduous task of cleaning this fancy getup when said baby spits up, or worse, experiences a poo explosion. Yet these parents persevere and continue to arrive at functions with a baby on their hip that is dressed to the nines.

Clinton and Katie, well, maybe just Katie, are these kind of parents. When Katie was pregnant I brought her tiny Chuck Taylor All-Star socks for her little boy, Noah. Her face lit up – the beginnings of an outfit! Since then she has never failed to surprise me. The first time I photographed little Noah he was a newborn and dressed in the tiniest blue jeans. Then last weekend he showed up to my Christmas party in a Santa suit. All I need now is Noah in a hot dog outfit and my baby fantasy is complete!

Unfortunately only a few of these photos came out since I was still partially blind and not able to see that my camera was set on manual – which is hard enough with perfect sight, and damned impossible when one is half-blind! With a little Photoshop I have tried to save three deliciously adorable images for your holiday viewing pleasure! Now, someone buy baby Noah a hot dog outfit!

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Traveling Belle

Apologies for not posting yesterday. I am currently at a conference in Louisville and then on Friday afternoon heading to Austin, Texas for a three-day weekend with my super awesome girlfriend, Aden (so excited!). Since I am traveling I will address a problem that I find myself facing every single time I go out-of-town – what will I eat.

Travel for leisure is usually pretty easy as I can google area joints that boast vegan food or sensitivities to food allergies. I can also sit at the table and be that über particular allergy girl and request a special meal while flashing my EPI pen. Not my favorite way to handle things, but a hungry gal’s gotta do what a hungry gal needs to do to get a meal!

Business trips and conferences are a little more difficult. First, you are often held hostage in a convention center for 8 or more hours a day. You are provided the typical continental breakfast that often only offers you fruit, and rarely nice, fresh, non mooshy fruit (can’t stand super soft fruit!). Lunch rolls around and your stomach is rebelling from the lack of breakfast just to find that your “vegan meal” is topped with butter and the server does not know what vegan is. After lunch your coworkers gorge themselves on heavenly smelling cookies while you sip your cold, black coffee as soy milk does not exist in this conference center. Finally dinner rolls around and you are hopeful your coworkers will pick a spot everyone can dine at. Much to your dismay, they all vote to go to a steak house. You consider the pros and cons of skipping dinner all together, and then realize that would defeat the purpose of this “team building” conference and decide to be a “team player” and tag along.

Does this sound familiar? A little too dramatic? In the deep south I have found that more often than not I am faced with this very scenario. I often joke that I am the only person I know who goes on a business trip and actually looses weight.

In order to avoid these embarrassing and uncomfortable situations, and keep my stomach from growing so loudly that it overpowers the keynote speaker, I have perfected bringing my own food that, are you ready for this, I can even carry on a plane with NO ISSUES from the TSA (“Excuse me young lady, you can’t carry this gallon of soy milk on the plane… you are going to have to check it in your bag of REALLY expensive designer shoes.” I. Don’t. Think. So.)

So today I will share what I pack in a small carry-on bag to help sustain me for a five-day trip that includes both business and leisure time:

Powdered soy milk: This is my first time bringing soy milk in powdered form. I ordered it from Amazon in the vanilla flavor to use in my coffee, oatmeal and as a quick protein fix. Shockingly, it is not bad. I find the recommended 2.75 teaspoons to 8 oz. of water to be a tad weak for my liking so I add a bit extra. I shake it up in my Camel back water bottle (which you carry on the plane empty and no one harasses you) and then add to coffee throughout the day and sip on it when my tummy starts to fuss.

Oatmeal: I used to bring instant oatmeal that I would make using the coffeemaker and a coffee cup in my hotel room. This trip, though, I wanted something a little more nutritious and less processed so I picked up a box of Mom’s Best Organic Better Oats Oatmeal in “Cinnamon Plum.” This stuff requires a microwave, which can be tricky when your room does not offer one (like the hotel I”m currently at).  So I walk downstairs in the morning, armed with the packet and my container of freshly mixed soy milk and explain I have special needs and can they please direct me to where I can find a bowl and microwave.

Snack Bars: These guys ROCK! I only eat snack bars when traveling due to the portability factor and now find myself looking forward to taking trips and getting too munch them. These little guys are healthy, delicious, 100% allergy-free and vegan. Heaven.

Dried Cranberries and Raisins: While my colleagues are chowing down on cookies I whip out a bag of dried fruit to munch. Healthier and safe, it helps me feel satisfied and also provides something to do to stay awake during particularly dry sessions.

Dried soup cups: These cups take about 10 minutes to make with the coffee maker in your room. At lunch time I excuse myself for 5 minutes, visit my room to fill with hot water from the coffee maker (just stick the cup under and let it drip right in), and then close it up to work its rehydrating magic while I head back to the conference. If your hotel room is not in the convention center, take your cup to the coffee shop or kitchen and ask that they fill it with boiling water. In my experience they are always happy to assist. A note about these cups – they are rather high in sodium. Not something I eat when at home, but they beat the alternative of hungry while on business.

Mini Pita Breads: These are nice with your soup. Whole grain and nutritious, they do not get squished as easily as a loaf of bread, nor do they take up much space in your food bag.

Dark Chocolate: Dairy and nut-free, these are perfect for when you need something a little sweet.

This takes care of breakfast, lunch and snacks. But what about dinner? You could always have another cup of soup, but there is that whole “team building” thing again. I have found that even the most carnivore-centric restaurants have some sort of salad that you can order w/o cheese and meat. Be creative and ask that they add some extra veggies (like bell pepper and mushrooms) in place of the meat. I also tuck a couple mini pita breads in my purse to eat along with my salad since wait staff are typically clueless when it comes to whether or not their bread is vegan.

What do you bring when you travel? Any great discoveries?

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We collected our final CSA load this week. While peddling our veggie-laden bikes home I lamented on the CSA leaving us before the growing season had taken its final bow. This morning Mother Nature proved me wrong, yet again. While taking a chilly early morning walk through the arboretum we stumbled upon brilliantly colored roses encrusted in frost.

I quickly walked the three miles home, grabbed my camera and hastily drove back. Sadly, most of the crystals had melted leaving only frost burned petals behind. I did manage a few photos in the shady parts of the rose garden and I think it makes an appropriate post for this cold Sunday. Tomorrow exciting recipes and food photos will return. Until then, sleep sweet and stay warm.


Primordial Masculinity

Those who attended our wedding witnessed my brother toast Jay’s “primordial masculinity.” Both my brother and I have long been in awe of Jay’s manliness – he can fix things, move a dryer from the basement, pull poo-covered yarn from a cat bum without barfing, saw pumpkins and kill wasps with flame. The list goes on, but you get the idea. In my eyes there are very few people who trump Jay’s masculinity. At the top of the “More Manly Than My Husband List” are

Jay attacks my wee little baking pumpkin.

Kerry King, Clint Eastwood, Lance Armstrong and my Uncle L. Yes, my uncle is in the same list as Clint Eastwood. Uncle Leonard has more heavy machinery than anyone I know. He spent time in Vietnam. He farmed dairy cattle for years. He rides a Harley cross-country with his equally tough wife. He is a pyrotechnics professional. He uses a big ass torch to light the evening camp fire.

More than 20 years ago my family drove 24 hours from Florida to Pennsylvania to visit the farm for the Fourth of July. One thing I remember from this visit was a cannon Uncle L. had built while in shop class. Mounted on two huge wagon wheels, L. loaded the cannon with explosives and hamburger buns and then exploded them into the corn field in celebration of our countries Independence Day. The noise was glorious and left your ears ringing.  I told Jay about this and he looked at me with mouth agape – L. has what? He had to witness this for himself.

This year Jay and I joined my family for their annual 4th of July celebration.  Uncle L. was busy playing croquet, drinking beer and being manly with the other men when I flitted by and inquired on the whereabouts of the cannon. “The cannon?” he asked. “Well I have not taken that out in at least 20 years. “But you HAVE to bring the cannon out! Jay and I have been talking about it for weeks!” Then it was his turn in the croquet game and the conversation ended.

That evening my young cousin came running around the corner, “Sarah! He is bringing IT out with the tractor! Come fast!” We ran into the field just as L. rounded the corner pulling the cannon. The grin on his face was priceless.

As a kid I remember Uncle L.  as an intimidating tall guy with long dark hair. I had little interest in this man as I ran around the farm in a lacy dress, chasing kitties and day dreaming about fairies. Last weekend gave me a new, grown-up perspective of L. – not only is he a tough and accomplished man, he is a kind grandfather, a soft heart with his dogs and has a smile that can light up a room.

Shamelessly I followed him around, snapping photos and crawling on the grass to try to capture his expressions under the brim of a black cap. Several times he looked at me and said, “What are you doing taking photos of me?” “Uncle L. , you are amazing to photograph… Just a few more.” And then I would fire off another 100 images. By the time I got home I had 1,100 photos, a quarter of which were of my uncle. After many hours I have narrowed them down to a few favorites. Not particularly good from a professional standpoint, but special in that they capture a side of a man I am only now getting to know.


Passing through West Virginia

Last weekend Jay and I went to New Castle, PA to visit my family and the farm. Trips up north are always glorious – farm living, cats and dogs, adorable children to photograph but not clean up after, enough food to feed a small army, a never-ending beer fridge and plenty of rowdy family.  Our drives to PA typically take us through Ohio. For those who have not had the pleasure of driving all the way through Ohio … It Stinks. Long flat roads are surrounded by corn and often cloudy skies. Insufferable traffic jams inevitably greet drivers in Cincinnati and then again in Columbus. It is a crappy drive.

In search of something completely different, Jay consulted Google maps for an alternate route that would take us through Eastern Kentucky and into West Virginia. Ultimately the new route would only tack on 30 more miles while providing new scenery and letting us explore a new state – West Virginia. Thirty minutes in, however, Google maps failed and we found ourselves lost in Huntington, West Virginia. Now I’m not an advocate of stereotypes and strive to maintain and open mind regardless of where the road takes me. With West Virginia comes a gargantuan pu-pu platter of stereotypes that I was determined to overlook and give this state a chance.

We stopped for a quick break at a Speedway in Huntington to get gas and orient ourselves. While Jay pumped I wandered into the store and was shocked to find that of the near dozen gas station patrons I was the only one completely dressed. By completely dressed I mean a tank top, jeans and shoes. This was not making it easy to overlook stereotypes. I pressed on to the restroom where I was faced with ZERO toilet paper. Groan.

After a little ingenuity and a bit of flexibility (thank you hand drier) I left the bathroom and went to grab a bottle of juice. Low and behold what do I see? A man with no shirt, no shoes and no pants! I’m not even kidding. This guy was standing there buying beer in red plaid boxer shorts. The kind of cottony boxer shorts with the little pee flap. Like real undies folks. The only thing keeping the undies company were his leathery love handles. I quickly looked away, grabbed my juice and made a bee line for the cash register.

Four hours later we finally made it out of West Virginia, but only after getting lost once, making a wrong turn and finally giving up and turning on the GPS. Other interesting sights observed while exploring WV were: an oil refinery; a long, winding interstate; lush rolling hills; an abundance of clunkers; lots of bridges and even more crosses. We also invented a new car game: Guess Which Passing Motorist Might Not Be Wearing Pants. We speculate that roughly 25% of passing motorists could have been pants-free.

Needless to say, we are fairly certain West Virginia is not next on our weekend trip list. However, if you think I’m wrong and would like to suggest another city we might enjoy, please feel free to let us know! We are always looking for suggestions!

The rest of our trip was quite enjoyable, and filled with fun, adventures and gobs of blogging potential. More news and tons of photos from the trip soon. Until then, here are a few photos from the weekend…