Penne with summer veggies is perfect for a summertime side: it can be served hot or cold, it's light enough to go with a burger but has enough veggies to be a meal on its own!

Penne with Summer Vegetables

Today I want to share with you a summery pasta salad that I’m addicted to!

It can be eaten hot or cold, so it’s a great make-ahead option. And no mayonnaise means you don’t have to be too worried if it sits outside at the pool for a bit before you can eat it!

Penne with summer veggies is perfect for a summertime side: it can be served hot or cold, it's light enough to go with a burger but has enough veggies to be a meal on its own!

I love it so much that I can treat it as a main dish – perfect for a no-brainer lunch. For those who can’t imagine meatless meals, just add some diced chicken on top, easy!

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Here's my favorite books of 2016!

Best reads of 2016: fiction edition

I love fiction. Nonfiction has its place, but fiction reigns in my reading world. Of the 93 books I read this year, a whopping 65 of them were fiction. While I’m trying to read more nonfiction, mysteries and fantasies have my heart. There’s no clear theme among what I read this year, but I did notice several fantasies made the top five. Here’s what I loved in 2016! 

Here's my favorite books of 2016!

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Great hiking is just a few miles away! Quartz Mountain, OK

Goals: January

Has everyone recovered from their festivities? Our holiday has been a good mix of seeing people and binge watching TV. Logan started building us a kitchen table, which I’m over the moon about. Mostly I’m just staying out of the way until it’s time to stain.

Great hiking is just a few miles away! Quartz Mountain, OK

Excited to do more hiking this January!

I’m pretty proud of what got done in December, mostly because I managed to ship gifts back to NC in time for Christmas. Gotta keep those priorities in order, folks. But as far as goals that were on my list, I did pretty well:

  • Write 10 blog posts: So much writing got done! It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have a nine to five. I’m excited for lots of great stuff to share with you in the next few months, including more from our trip to Europe!
  • Read 7 books: Check! Pretty sure the number read in 2016 is an all-time high for me. Recommendations are always welcome!!
  • Exercise 4x/week: I’m counting it. I did it, with the exception of this past week, but that’s a major holiday week, so it doesn’t count. Having one car has helped: it forces me to walk to things, or walk to drop the car off at Logan’s office, or walk if I need to get out of the house. I’ve gotten a gym routine for the most part (aka not during Christmas) which makes a I will NEVER get tired of Christmas treesbig difference.
  • Have some people over for dinner at least once: I’m happy to share that we’re meeting some awesome people! We’ve hosted a couple times and been to others’ homes several times this month. Looking forward to more of this!
  • Celebrate Christmas: Yes! This was our first Christmas living far enough that we didn’t see parents and siblings during the holiday season, so of course we missed our people. But we had a great time here, complete with new friends and Christmas Eve chocolate fondue. A new tradition, perhaps?

I’m 100% one of those people who loves the fresh start that comes from the new year. January holds all the promise of a clean slate, of a turning towards new habits and refocusing on what matters. I shared my dreams for 2017 a few days ago, with the promise that monthly goals would be more specific. So here’s what I’m aiming for in January:

  • Host my brother in Oklahoma! Our first guest!
  • Write 7 blog posts
  • Read 8 books
  • Exercise 4x/week
  • Research kitchen chairs
  • Weekly date night with Logan
  • Figure out travel plans for the spring
  • Have more crafty fun

2017, here we go!

I’m excited to get going on 2017! What are you most excited about for the new year?

The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

What I’m reading: Carry On, Warrior

“Have you heard of Glennon Doyle Melton?” carryonwarrior-1my friend asked me one day last month.

I hadn’t. She followed up by telling me she’s the founder of Momastery, which I’d heard of and assumed was a “mommy blog,” and yes I was a touch judgmental about what I thought air-quotes-mommy-blogs are. My kidless self made some assumptions and have been properly chastised. Turns out it’s much more – and much better –  than I’d thought. My apologies.

So I’d heard of Momastery but I hadn’t ever read anything on that particular piece of the internet. But my friend recommended Melton’s first book, Carry On, Warrior, and then lent it to me with strict instructions to read it. [Don’t you love friends like that, who put the book in your hands because she knew you probably wrote it down and promptly forgot about it? They are just the best.]

Within the first two pages I was sucked in. By page 5 I laughed out loud. On page 8 I cried. The scope of this book blew me away.

In a memoir essay style reminiscent of Anne Lamott or Shauna Niequist, she talks about life. It’s the style I aspire to: honest, raw and funny, all the while telling an everyday story that’s both relatable and awesome.

carryonwarrior-2

In her “Sister” essay, I cried. I don’t even have a sister but I hurt for Sister and imagined myself loving my college roommates the way Melton does.

“Airing Our Dirty Laundry” cracked me up extra because I’d forgotten a load of not-fully-dry laundry just that week and had broken her SAME Wednesday rule.

The threads of faith, family and marriage run throughout, and she rarely talks about one without touching the other two. Even if Christianity isn’t your thing, it’s a great book about life – of facing the hard things and the day to day and living life for real. She describes it this way in the first chapter: “That was going to be my thing. I was going to make people feel better about their insides by showing them mine. By being my real self.” She’s candid about the parts of her that’s messed up and funny without making light of them.

My latest book obsession: Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

That, to me, is the crux of this book. Her faith is real and part of life in the big things and the small things. She talks to God as the best friend you call to tell that ridiculous thing that happened today or about the intensely hard decision you’re grappling with.

Peace isn’t the absence of distraction or annoyance or pain. It’s finding Me, finding peace and calm, in the midst of those distractions and annoyances and pains.

There’s something to the essay style books that read like a conversation for me. They soothe and encourage and push and love me in a way that speaks to my soul.

Melton has also written a more recent book focusing on marriage that I haven’t read yet, Love Warrior. It’s definitely on my wish list this Christmas!

carryonwarrior-3

Do you have anything on your holiday reading list that you’re especially excited about? What should I read next??

Opinions are my own and I didn’t receive compensation for my writing. The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

Settling into life on base in Oklahoma

Life lately: Oklahoma edition

Since we’ve been in Oklahoma for a few weeks now, I wanted to share a bit!

We really like living on base. We’re a half mile from Logan’s work, which means we’re doing the one car thing. There are also so many resources available within walking distance. I’d always dreamed of living somewhere I can walk to the store, but I never considered that a military base would be the way I get it! I joke with Logan that we live in a gated community now.

It’s very family friendly here. They offer an on-base elementary school and daycare, and I’ve counted at least six playgrounds. Not exaggerating. Plus there’s sidewalks everywhere, so you never have to walk/run in the road.

Living on base is quiet, and I mean quiet. Some days I walk for an hour and don’t see another person walking the whole time. Cars, I see. But people outside of cars, not so much.

Life on base in Oklahoma

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Our new home!

Goals: December

Raise your hand if you’re already listening to Christmas music!!

I’m one of those people who celebrates with abandon, and while I dearly love thanksgiving, the last weekend of November is for pulling out the Christmas decorations!

Honestly, I’m not even sure how to characterize November. It’s been amazing to finally begin to settle into our new town, new home, and new life. While it was sad to not spend Thanksgiving with family, Logan and I had a great time cooking more food than two people could possibly eat. I’ve spent nearly every day unpacking boxes, cleaning things, or updating our info. And I haven’t even gotten to my driver’s license yet!

Our new home!

Sunrise on our new place

In spite of no routine whatsoever – or largely because of it – lots of big things happened this month. Here’s how the goals for November went down:

  • Move – done! The process itself went pretty smoothly, and we’re really enjoying Oklahoma so far. Most people we’ve met have been through Logan’s office, and everyone has been so fantastic and welcoming!
  • Get unpacked (mostly), and maybe buy a couch – It seems like every day I unpack boxes. Not even kidding. But there’s something incredibly therapeutic to me about setting up a new space and making it my own. There’s a comic element to me though, of unpacking all our stuff with very little furniture. Our “couch” this month has been a twin bed. But never fear, we got wild and crazy on black Friday and got a BUNCH of furniture. Also purchased: a washer & dryer. It feels so adult!
  • Read 7 books  – This was an easy one. I listened to audiobooks throughout the 20 hours drive and for days while unpacking, so I soaked in a book almost every other day!
  • Write 10 blog posts – check! Just this week I’ve gotten a better writing routine, only because there’s not a gazillion boxes everywhere I turn.
  • Work on  setting up Lightroom photo cataloging – I’ve set up the basic structure I’ll use. Now to just import the past 10 years of photos in…
  • Finish editing Europe photos – Yes! Fist pump! Finally. That means you’ll see more Europe posts continuing very very soon!
  • Work on Rosetta Stone (spanish) once a week – Nope. Definitely didn’t. What with all the transition/chaos/life happening, I did it about twice. We’ll revisit this in December.
  • Exercise 4x/week – … hmm. So in the sense of going to the gym or actually running around, not really. But I have gotten a ton of steps in what with loading and unloading a  moving van and setting up our new place!
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving – Success! While we missed our families, we had a great time picking all our favorite foods and watching the parade. I may have gone a touch overboard and made two pies for two people, but who’s counting?

December will be our first full month here in Oklahoma, so I’m excited to start figuring out more than where the grocery store is. We’re starting to check out churches, plus I want to join in whatever seasonal things are happening around here! We’re staying here for Christmas, so I’m already working on gift boxes to ship back to family. Doing it this far in advance actually adds an extra element of fun for me: instead of a rushed post-exams or after-work Christmas shopping, I get to put a lot more thought and research into fun gift ideas!

My main “rhythm” for December is to start setting up a routine. After so much (good) chaos, I’m ready for a little predictability. This Monday was the first day that I didn’t wake up barraged by boxes clamoring to be unpacked, and this week all the furniture we bought on Black Friday will arrive! So things are starting to come together.

These are my attempts at concrete goals for December:

  • Write 10 blog posts
  • Read 7 books
  • Exercise 4x/week
  • Have some people over for dinner at least once
  • Celebrate Christmas!

I love these Oklahoma skies!

What are your goals for December? Does your routine change significantly during the holidays?

The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

Goals for November on the blog!

Goals: November

Goals for November on the blog!

Only photo with flippers!

Happy November, friends!

How was your Halloween? Some friends threw TV show-themed party last weekend: we went as Buster Bluth and a loose seal, which few people got if I wasn’t standing next to Buster or they hadn’t seen Arrested Development.

We do have some big military life updates: we’re moving a little sooner than expected! We leave NC in two weeks. The date has changed three times, but now it’s In The Official Paperwork. I’m a little worn out from the constantly changing plans, but I’m definitely ready to not live out of boxes anymore! So getting there earlier suits me fine.

Looking at October’s goals, here’s how we did:

  • Read 6 books – goodness gracious y’all, I am unemployed. Reading a lot. This month I hit my goal for 2016 on goodreads – 70 books! I’ve been stuck on a James Michener novel for a while – it’s good, but 800 pages and a little dense. However, October has also given me some on-point nonfiction, which I’ll share with you soon.
  • Write 8 blog posts – yes! See above re: unemployment.
  • Finish editing Europe photos – whelp, no. Made some great progress, but didn’t finish. We’ll continue this one for November.
  • Celebrate our wedding anniversary! – AH yes. We spent the whole day together (an anniversary first, except for our actual wedding day), went hiking, relaxed, and then had dinner at our first date restaurant. See me gush here.
  • Move, if at all possible – so. Turns out not really possible. We did move out of our place this past weekend. Work in progress on the exact move date to Oklahoma!
  • Find housing for our next location – see above. Work in progress.
  • Continue to get time with friends & family! – Knowing our location has made the move feel much more real, and I’m feeling some of the sadness I knew would come to leave some beloved people. I’ve lived in this area for nearly my whole life, so the roots are deep. Trying to cherish the community we’ve built here while we still can.

Goals for November on the blog!

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as many recipes. This has been partly because we’ve been living out of boxes for weeks getting ready to move and partly because we’ve been soaking up as much of Durham & Chapel Hill food as we possibly can! Once we’re settled in I’m planning to ramp that back up, but I’l try to squeeze in a few guest appearances in friends’ kitchens in the meantime.

In the midst of our vagabonding, here’s my November goals!

  • Move!!
  • Get unpacked (mostly), and maybe buy a couch
  • Read 7 books
  • Write 10 blog posts
  • Work on  setting up Lightroom photo cataloging
  • Finish editing Europe photosGoals for November on the blog
  • Work on Rosetta Stone (spanish) once a week
  • Exercise 4x/week
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving

They may be … shall we say, a bit bold. I may be overestimating my abilities here, but since we’re already entirely packed for our move, maybe there’s more time for creative endeavors? Or I’m being optimistic. Either way.

My refrain for the past couple months still applies: life is a little uncertain, but if nothing else I can still read and write and love people.

What are your goals for the month?

The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

The easiest way to make homemade BBQ! Hint: it involves a crockpot, and it's delicious.

Crockpot BBQ Sandwiches

If you’re from North Carolina, then there’s a few things you know about barbecue.

First of all, it’s a noun. It means pork, cooked low and slow. But there’s not just one kind. There’s a HUGE argument over western vs. eastern NC BBQ – also known as tomato based vs. vinegar based. I’d classify myself as an eastern BBQ fan: after all, it’s what I grew up on. But I also have a soft place in my heart for western. Because let’s be real, who can resist barbecue in any form?

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Today I’m sharing the easiest way I’ve found to make homemade BBQ, western-NC style. The best part is that it cooks all day in a crockpot! Next to no work for one heck of a reward.

I like to make this when we have friends over for dinner, and I’ve been known to throw the leftovers on a salad to mix it up!

The easiest way to make homemade BBQ! Hint: it involves a crockpot, and it's delicious.

Start with a 3-4 pound pork loin – I typically buy mine from Sam’s Club and cut in it half. Trim off the excess fat.

The easiest way to make homemade BBQ! Hint: it involves a crockpot, and it's delicious.

Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and garlic salt. I usually eyeball it, but I’d estimate I add about 1/2 – 3/4  tbsp of garlic salt.

The easiest way to make homemade BBQ! Hint: it involves a crockpot, and it's delicious.

Pour three to four cans of root beer: the goal is to just cover the pork.

The easiest way to make homemade BBQ! Hint: it involves a crockpot, and it's delicious.

Cook on low for 8 hours. Go enjoy your day while dinner cooks!

The easiest way to make homemade BBQ! Hint: it involves a crockpot, and it's delicious.

Remove the pork from the crockpot and shred! I usually work at it with two forks. Stir in most of a bottle of BBQ sauce – save the last bit for topping your sandwich.

The easiest way to make homemade BBQ! Hint: it involves a crockpot, and it's delicious.

Crockpot BBQ Sandwiches

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 lbs pork loin
  • 3-4 cans root beer
  • 3/4 tbsp garlic salt
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 full bottle of BBQ sauce
  • 8 whole wheat hamburger buns (optional)

STEPS:

  1. Clean excess fat off the pork loin. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Add garlic salt, salt and pepper on top. Pour the root beer over the entire thing; don’t worry about the bubbles.
  3. Cook for 8 hours on low.
  4. When finished, remove the pork from the liquid – either put into a very large serving bowl, or drain off the liquid from the crockpot itself. Take two forks and shred the pork into small pieces, then pour most of the BBQ sauce over the pork and mix well. The amount of sauce is up to you, depending on how messy you want your sandwich!
  5. Before serving, toast the hamburger buns – the slight crunchiness helps the bun hold in all that barbecue!

The easiest way to make homemade BBQ! Hint: it involves a crockpot, and it's delicious.

What’s your favorite crock pot recipe for fall?

all images copyright Teaspoon of Nose

Coffeeshop sipping, European dreaming.

The best iced mochas at Joe Van Gogh

Coffee sipping just outside Duke's campus!In my efforts to hang out with my bar-studying husband this summer, our sweet spot ended up being the “go somewhere to study” date. But the sweltering mess that is North Carolina in July means there’s only so much outdoor studying one can handle, particularly on Saturday afternoons.

SO, the coffeeshop scene it is! We took advantage of the fact that Duke students are mostly gone for the summer and headed to Joe Van Gogh. It’s right off campus and shares a parking lot with Watts Grocery (free parking! yay!).

They’re known for their coffee. Shocker, I know. But they sell their beans as well as coffee drinks, and I’ve had several friends recommend them as the sweet spot of taste and price when I lament how quickly our house runs through coffee.

Confession: I heart espresso drinks. If I could have a mocha or latte or something with espresso every single day, I would. Its just… good. Smooth. Rich. Logan is the same way: I will likely get in an espresso machine someday, because he loves the complexity and attention to detail making good espresso requires. And that way he can make me fancy drinks.

Coffee sipping just outside Duke's campus!

So with that in mind, you won’t be surprised that we both went for iced mochas. Nothing too fancy, no additional syrups or twists or frufru.Coffee sipping just outside Duke's campus!

But y’all, this was possibly the best iced mocha I HAVE EVER HAD.

I love them. I love them with whipped cream
and chocolate shavings. But this one, with just the basics, was so well done that it beat the ones with all the extras on tops.

I think it was so good because it wasn’t very sweet. Lots of cream and plenty of chocolate, but not sweet. Just that creamy-chocolate-coffee dreaminess.

If I had an unlimited budget (and calories weren’t a thing), I would drink one of these puppies every day. It was that good.

Coffeeshop sipping, European dreaming.

So the coffee really is worth it alone. I also liked the vibe: relaxed, a little quirky, but also the type of place you can pop some headphones in a get work done. It’s bright and happy with a wall of windows and art everywhere. You can also get popsicles – don’t you love it when popsicles are a thing in a coffeeshop? – or play with the plastic animals by the cash register. To be honest I don’t know what the story was there, should’ve asked. Plus there’s the coffee beans for sale right by the door, smelling amazing every time you walk by.

Coffee sipping just outside Duke's campus!I love it when coffeeshops are small enough to feel intimate but not so small that there’s never any seating. Joe Van Gogh has tables and chairs for maybe 20 or so – enough to be comfortable, but I could see how students fill tables fast during finals.

Logan and snagged a spot where he could spread his papers. I took advantage of the time to plan our Europe trip and book some airbnbs (updates soon, I promise!), and together we spent a few hours escaping the hot summer sun with some cool drinks.

My take: best iced mocha I’ve had. Definitely worth a visit!

Opinions are my own and I didn’t receive compensation for my writing. The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.

Goals: October

Happy October! We’re currently in Alabama visiting our friends Lindsay and John!

goals for October!

Hiking Monte Sano! Wild goats were involved.

Can pre-transition transition be a thing? Because that’s what September has felt like. We’ve finished up the main elements of what has made up our lives the past few years – law school is finally over, we’re both currently unemployed, we’ve even given up most of our furniture already! – but haven’t yet gotten to say “go!” on the next phase.

How did I do this month, goal-wise?

  • Read 6 books – check! Including what was probably one of my favorite fiction books ever, The Night Circus. I loved it!
  • Write 8 blog posts – Yes. Posts are taking longer than they usually do, because compressing our travel adventures (and getting the photos down to a reasonable number to share) takes more time! But it’s definitely been fun to have more free to time to devote to it! #unemployedlife
  • Use up pantry supplies – Making a dent, slowly. Between the traveling and making last stops at our favorite local restaurants, we’ve eaten at home less than usual. But we’re chipping away!
  • Purge stuff – Oh goodness gracious this takes forever. But yes, progress. I’ve taken two carfuls of stuff to donate, and now we’re beginning to go through the attic.
  • Most (not all) editing Europe photos – Ha! This was a bit ambitious. I’m far from finished, but I have gone from 7500 photos to just over 2000. I’m basically done with Italy photos!
  • See lots of friends! – Trying to squeeze in as many social events as possible. Got to soak up my NC people!
  • Watch a lot of movies – We’ve officially finished Stranger Things. (I have mixed feelings about it. Let’s chat.) I got it into my head that I wanted to watch all the Harry Potters and James Bonds. We’re 4/8 and 4/26 respectively, so we’ve got a ways to go.
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We’ll miss the Blue Ridge mountains! 

This time is definitely a gift though: we’ve been able to see friends, visit family, head to some favorite restaurants and old haunts around town, and get ready to move in a non-frenzied speed.

Winston-1.jpg

September girls’ weekend!

So… setting goals for the next month seems
complicated. Here’s my best attempt:

  • Read 6 books
  • Write 8 blog posts
  • Finish editing Europe photos
  • Celebrate our wedding anniversary!
  • Move, if at all possible
  • Find housing for our next location
  • Continue to get time with friends & family!

I’m going to be nice to myself this month and not set too many to-do items. Goodness knows there’s enough unpredictability happening, so we’ll just see what happens.

The links above contain affiliate links, which means I get a few cents (at no extra cost to you) if you book or buy something via that link. This helps me keep costs down and posts up! All images copyright Teaspoon of Nose.