Quartz Mountain's rocky beauty stands out against the Oklahoma sky.

Quartz Mountain in Winter

Our first weekend in Oklahoma, some friends invited us to go hiking. We weren’t sure what that would be like, since everything you can see is farmland. But Lauren & Austin grabbed their dogs and took us to Quartz Mountain State Park!

Quartz Mountain's rocky beauty stands out against the Oklahoma sky.

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If the sunrises are this gorgeous it's worth getting up for them!

Goals: February

Oh hey February!

January has been.. something. Current events in our country are heartbreaking and scary and deeply painful, and I’ve been angry and sad about much of what’s happening. I don’t talk much politics on here, mostly because fighting over email or in the comments section feels unproductive. Those conversations are best in person or on the phone. But if you want to talk or cry or rant, let me know, I’m here.

Personally, I started the new year bright eyed and ambitious. Best laid plans for productivity turned into snow days, hosting my brother, fun with new friends, and catching a cold. Meaning… this month felt like a bit of a false start. I had big dreams of putting some solid work into figuring out what this next phase of life would hold for me, and that didn’t really happen. But I’m starting to recognize that I may never have a “normal” week, so I should just roll with it. What is a normal week anyway?

Snow days are the best days!

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Hiking in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwest Oklahoma gets even better in the snow!

A Snowy Hike in the Wichita Falls Wildlife Refuge

My brother came for a long weekend recently! As our first guest we got to do all sorts of firsts with him: take him to the local museum, play in our first snowstorm, try Braums. He even helped Logan build a kitchen table, which I’m thrilled about and will share more of that later.

Our part of Oklahoma is a little funny, because it’s very very flat. For miles and miles. There are a few large rock formations (locals call them mountains, but even compared to the Appalachians they’re more like hills), but they’re few and far between.

There’s options, though an hour away sit the Wichita Mountains, which provide more proper mountain hiking. So when Ben requested a hike, we piled in the car to Cache, home of the Wichita Falls Wildlife Refuge.

Hiking in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwest Oklahoma gets even better in the snow!

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Curried sweet potato soup covers all the bases: easy, healthy, fast, and tasty!

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

This hearty soup is perfect for a winter weeknight dinner! The rich sweet potatoes combine with traditional Thai flavors for a soup that’s a little surprising and always irresistible.

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This dish hits most of my favorite things in a recipe: it’s easy. It’s tasty. It’s actually really healthy, but still tastes rich and filling. It’s ready in about 30 minutes. It keeps well. You can make it early and leave it simmering if you need to.

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Snow days are the best days!

Snow day memories

Like most of the country (or so Instagram seems to be telling me), we got snow last weekend! The timing was perfect, because my brother came to visit the Wednesday before and it snowed Thursday night, meaning we got a good mix of Oklahoma winter and exciting snow days.

As our first guest in town, we took him to a few Altus classics to eat (namely Braum’s and Taqueria Hernandez) and showed him around base. Best of all, hosting him prompted us to be tourists in our own town!

The arrival of snow flipped our plans around a bit in all the good ways. I’m secretly a four year old and love snow. We’d gotten a few flakes earlier in December but nothing that covered the ground, so I was really pumped to have a blanket!

Snow days are the best days!

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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.

Nothing says the holidays like classic apple pie!

Classic Holiday Apple Pie

Classic Apple Pie on a Christmas china plate... can you get any more American??

One of my favorite things about apple pie is that it’s become a tradition with practically all of the really American holidays. Apple pie is equally at home at Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and Christmas! It also happens to be a family favorite. So even when we have four dessert options (aka every thanksgiving ever), this is ALWAYS one of them. 

Nothing says the holidays like classic apple pie!

This is based on the Joy of Cooking‘s apple pie. That recipe is classic and practically begs for regular use with your own personalizations. Nothing says the holidays like classic apple pie! Continue reading

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.

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN

How to spend a weekend in Memphis, Tennessee

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN

Logan and I took a road trip after Christmas as a celebratory close out to 2014. After heading west to see the Myrick clan, we just kept driving! First we spent a couple days in Nashville enjoying all they have to offer in terms of BBQ, hot chicken, and country music. Next we headed to Memphis to see some family and soak in as much blues and history as possible in 48 hours!

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN!

We drove in on a weekday morning, so our first stop was lunch. Beale Street is known for its nightlife, but since we were visiting family we knew we probably wouldn’t see much of it after dark and headed there first! We ducked into BB King’s Blues Club for some hot lunch and cool blues.

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN!

Even during a random weekday lunchtime, there was live music. We actually really enjoyed the laid-back feel of the place – there were as many locals as tourists in there! Maybe that’s a weekday thing. But I’d recommend going on a weekday if you want to see the place without partaking in its usual bacchanal vibe.  They say that during his lifetime BB King would occasionally stop by unannounced to perform or just hang out.

After lunch, we spent some timeHow to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN! walking around Beale Street. While it’s pretty empty during the day, we did enjoy ducking into shops. Don’t miss A. Schwab – an old-school general store that runs the gamut of tourist souveniers, clothing, homemade foods & gifts, and a soda shoppe style lunch counter! Be sure to head upstairs and check out their museum. It’s got some cool history of the store and Beale Street in general, as well as some hilarious relics from former things sold there! From old farming equipment to the often questionable fashion choices of the past to the always hilarious advertising schemes, they have a little bit of everything up there. Worth a walk through. Elsewhere on Beale Street can be found a store that sells hand painted toilet seats. That’s it. Talk about a niche market. But if you’re ever in need of a toilet seat with a cat playing a saxophone on it, you know where to go.

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN

Memphis8From there we wanted to swing by a few more downtown icons. The Orpheum Theater was glitzy and glamorous even in the stark winter daylight. We spent half an hour in the Peabody Hotel lobby, soaking in the history that seemed to infuse every chandelier and banister. They even had a horse-drawn carriage out front! The vibe contrasted sharply with the crowds of people checking in: they felt more 1900 old south than 2014 polos and t-shirts. We missed the daily duck “march,” but did get to watch them splashing around in the fountain and the surrounding kids giggling delightedly at them. Those ducks have it made! Definitely a great people watching spot.

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN!

That evening we met up with some family who live in Memphis. We had planned to end our road trip with celebrating New Year’s Eve with them, and they were the perfect hosts for the final leg of our trip. Meaning: they had incredible restaurants picked out and lots of suggestions for fun in the area, but also moved at a relaxed pace.

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN!

The main “event” the next day was spending the afternoon exploring Stax Museum of American Soul Music. I knew I wanted to check it out, but I wasn’t prepared for just how well done of a museum it would be! Set up in location of  the former recording studio,  it details the history and highlights of soul music. My favorite part was learning how ingrained Stax was in the history of Memphis and in the civil rights movement. The men and women involved in Stax Records were living our racial reconciliation way before the rest of the U.S. caught on, and making incredible music as they did it. The museum itself was set up in part to revitalize the neighborhood and runs Stax Music Academy next door for at-risk youth. If you only do one thing from this list, do this.

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN!

But what about food? Here’s the places we ate (and loved!):

CORKY’S BBQ

Corky’s is an absolute must-do. First of all: ribs. Dry rub, Memphis style rib. And served in such huge portions that no one leaves unsatisfied. My favorite sides were corn on the cob and baked apples. Sweet teas all around compliment the spice on the ribs. Ask for extra napkins and don’t miss the giant Corky mural made of bottle caps. Also, get a reservation or you’ll wait FOREVER.

GUS’ CHICKEN

Southern food at its best. Fried chicken – need I say more? Confession: we actually got takeout from here and ate at home, so I can’t comment on service or ambiance. But the food is absolutely worth it. Mac and cheese I would kill for, and really good potato salad too. They have several locations in the Memphis area.

GIBSON’S DONUTS

“Since you’re new, they’re going to throw a donut at you,” my uncle tells Logan as they park. Logan doesn’t know what to do with this comment. But sure enough, a donut flies through the air before he’s all the way through the door. He catches it through a cloud of powdered sugar. They’re all good, seriously. I’m a sucker for glazed (sugar over fried dough, what more do you want), but we all collectively went crazy over their maple bacon donut. Chocolate with sprinkles never disappoints either. Summary: powdered sugar everywhere, and I ate way too many to admit. Thanks Gibson’s!

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN!

Yes, she’s tall. I love this girl!!

It was way too short a time, both with family and to really soak in Memphis. We celebrated New Year’s with delicious homemade dinner by my aunt and lots of laughing over family stories, peppered with convincing my teenage cousin to come to UNC for college. (Spoiler alert: it’s working! Go Heels!)

 

Thoughts for next time:

  • The National Civil Rights Museum is by far my biggest regret that we missed. We’d planned to do it in addition to Stax, but it was closed that day.
  • Graceland? For whatever reason, the tacky opulence holds no draw for me, especially if they’re wanting me to pay $20 per ticket. So we skipped that. But some people love it, so whatever floats your boat.

How to spend 48 hours in Memphis, TN

That’s our Tennessee road trip! We had an awesome first time checking out Nashville and Memphis and we’re sure to return soon!

What are your favorite parts of Memphis?

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.