where have you been?

Ryan and Heidi

Ryan and I took a trip back to Tallahassee to get our stuff out of storage and to be reunited with my kitties. I started my new job when we got back, so I’m just now getting oriented and can’t believe it’s Thursday and I haven’t updated my blog in weeks.

we're adorable.

Tallahassee was a lot of fun. I’m glad I was able to see my friends for a sweet farewell. We also spent the weekend in Apalachicola, where I got some sun on my skin and walked slowly with nowhere to go. We stayed at the Coomb’s House Bed and Breakfast and watched Ryan’s band played their farewell gig at the Dixie Theater.

Oh, and we sat in this over-sized chair by the water.

After soaking up so much sun, you can imagine my disappointment as New York greeted us with snow. But I’m optimistic spring is right around the corner. It’s going to be in the 50’s next week.

havana, this weekend

Lately, I’ve been quick to indulge in my last few weeks of southern culture, so I asked Ryan if we could stop at the Tomato Cafe and Tea Room, a wonderful soup and sandwich place in Havana, Fla. They serve a traditional afternoon tea and have a tomato-filled menu.

Ryan and I both had their signature tomato pie, which is piled with creamy cheeses and tons of tomatoes.

Havana is a small town 30 minutes outside of Tallahassee that has a charming downtown district with lots of antique and handmade shops. When we entered downtown, I remembered that it was their holiday festival – complete with Tractor and Riding Lawnmower Parade and hillbilly Santa (I wasn’t able to snap a photo!).

We were eating when the parade was going on, but I did manage to snap a photo of one of the riding lawnmowers.

Ryan and I walked around, holding hands, and perusing through shops as I snapped a few photos. It turned into a really sweet and impromptu date.

Waterworks Sign

I love painted brick so much.

Produce

Produce at the open air market.

antique cars

Antique Cars

Havana has an old feel to it.

Tomato Cafe

Tomatoes outside of the Tomato Cafe and Tea Room.

Gloves

So much pretty at one of the vintage shops.

handmade critters

These cute little handmades had such personality, I had to snap a photo.

Oh, and how funny is this? But one of the biggest draws to this celebration, besides the tractor parade, of course, is the snow.

Snow in Havana

There was a snow machine. You can see the line toward the back of the picture. It’s a big deal. There weren’t any snow machines when I was a kid. I’m moving to NY in a few weeks from Florida. It was downright hot on Saturday as we were walking around. I’ve only seen snow once or twice in my life, and I’ve certainly never been in a snowfall. It’s going to be quite an interesting transition, to say the least.

life moves fast

The past few months have been quite a struggle. I’ve been dealing with pesky medical issues and snags in my relationships, stress at my job and less than average performance with my personal goals. All the while, I’ve been trying to make a tough life decision.

I’ve been riding horses for nine months now. I’m finally getting up to a canter – a movement that scares me. It’s a different pace with a faster rhythm and makes me feel like I am no longer the one in control. The horse’s body bolts forward thrusting you back. Its breathing changes, the hooves pound loudly and quickly and your whole body sways, struggling to stay on. And when this happens, I desperately want to pull on the reins. I want so badly to pull back.

My trainer yells, “Let her go! Just let her go!” And I just let the horse go. And for a few seconds,  our bodies are moving in sync and beautifully fast and it’s simply exhilarating. I forget about the fear. I’m just cantering.

Like the natural rhythm of the canter, my life is trying to move forward, and I’ve been pulling on the reins for too long.

And it seems everything is falling into place and things feel right again. My life is moving forward. With monumental happiness, I’m ready to share my exciting news.

I’m moving to New York City! Ryan and I bought our one-way tickets. We depart January 15.

Letting this settle in feels completely right. My cheeks hurt, I was smiling so much today as I shared my news with my coworkers.

And my life is moving forward in other ways. I just bought my first DSLR camera, which takes fantastic photos (for the blog!), I’m learning photoshop, and my coding skills are slowly improving.

I have my first horse show this Saturday! I can’t wait. I’m only competing in a walk/trot, but still. It’s so much fun.

Christmas Lights

And I’m so ready for this holiday season. This week Ryan and I put up our Christmas lights.

Ryan with lights

And Watson wanted so badly to help.

Watson and Ryan

And this weekend, we ran in the Jingle Bell Run, which is my all-time favorite.

Jingle Bell

Everyone runs with a jingle bell on their shoe. I wore a light-up santa hat and a light up necklace.

Pre-Jingle Bell Run

And Adrienne joined us, to celebrate her one year running anniversary! I’m so proud of her.

Adrienne

I’ve got a lot of great crafts planned for this Holiday season. I can’t wait to start sharing them.

I’ll also be documenting how I plan to move to New York. Right now, I’m just concentrating on what (craft supplies) I’m taking with me. We’re getting rid of most everything, and basically only taking what can fit in our suit cases on the plane. It’s hard to part with stuff, but I’m excited for a fresh start.   I also got confirmation today that I’ll have a place to live when I get to NY. I’ll be staying with one of my best friends. And I found out I will be able to keep my job! Temporarily. They’re letting me work remotely for a few months. Now, all I have to do is find a stable.

seacrest wolf preserve

For Ryan’s birthday we headed an hour and a half outside of Tallahassee to Chipley, Fla. We visited the Seacrest Wolf Preserve. They’re one of the biggest wolf preservations in the United States. They have grey wolves, British Columbia wolves, and Arctic wolves.  We were able to walk right into the wolves’ habitat. The preserve staff socialize the wolves, so they’ll come right up to you. I have to admit, before this trip, I didn’t know a thing about wolves. It was really an amazing and educational tour. And the best part…we got to play with wolf puppies!

wolf puppy 1

We weren’t allowed to take digital cameras into the actual wolf habitat, but we could take as many as we wanted with the pups.

wolf puppies

That one puppy was so tired, but it didn’t stop me from cuddling it.

puppies are the best ever

The Seacrest Wolf preserve really does a great thing trying to protect these amazing creatures. If you’re in the Tallahassee area, it’s definitely a trip you have to take.

life lately

I’ve let my job take the wheel these past few weeks. By the time I get home from work, my brain is fried, and I’m finding it hard to get anything done. I zombie out in front of the TV or occasionally attempt reading a book. I usually try to dedicate a little bit of time after work to learning new things like programming, Photoshop, or even reading up on current events or spending time on Wikipedia. But, these days, I can hardly tolerate looking at a computer screen after 5 p.m. The good news is, I anticipate my job getting easier in the next few weeks.

Despite all of that, I’m still having lots of fun, mostly on the weekends. Here are a few glimpses of some things that have been happening.

Ryan and I have been biking from Tallahassee to St. Marks. It’s intense and awesome.

st. marks sign

Here we are once we made it to St. Marks. We’re super sweaty. Did I mention it’s like 99 degrees outside?

st. marks

Ryan and I own bikes, but we’re not bikers. I was so proud of our Map My Run stats, since it was our first ride. We’ve been back and beaten this time already.

map my run

Grilled pizza. Before and after.

grilled pizza before

grilled pizza after

The biggest moth on my front porch. Yes, I live in the jungle. And yes, I have fears of this thing flying right into my face every single day. Ever notice how flying insects have no sense of direction?

gigantor moth

The best vegetarian product – Gardein’s Mandarin Orange Chick’n. I can eat an entire bag.

gardenin chick'n

I only take photos of food, don’t you know? This is our latest CSA share. I made the best squash quiche with the squash. We renewed our share for fall.

csa share

Ryan and I are trying to take a photo at least once a month. We’re really bad at it.

<3

But we’re getting better. This was taken on his birthday. <3

<3

I love him so much.

rivers and trails

My air conditioner broke and I caught my first glimpse of fireflies, which confirms summer is upon us. To combat the heat, I’ve been running on some trails. My friend Adrienne and I took a trip down the  Fern Trail [.pdf], which is close to my house. I brought my iPhone to snap some photos of the trail.

waterfalls

Tree Bridge

Then later that week a group of us went out to the Leon Sinks for a hike with the Florida Trail Association. It was pretty hot outside, but the trail is mostly shady. The area has wet and dry sinkholes. It’s the longest underwater cave system in the United States.

The next day we took a paddle down the Wacissa River. I risked my camera to grab some photos.

For $20 you can rent a kayak. It was a gorgeous day.

Last time I paddled the river, I saw tons of alligators. I think there were too many people on the river today, because I didn’t see any, which was great, because we were ready to go swimming.

The water was beautiful, but freezing.

This is Cassidy Spring. That person in the kayak is my boyfriend. You can dive into that deep hole and swim through an opening within the rocks and come out the other side. My friend and I spent a great deal of time trying to do this. It was pretty challenging because the opening in the rock is a couple of feet deep and the spring water pushes you up. Yes it was dangerous and stupid, but it allowed for ten minutes of bragging rights, so it was worth it.

The famous spring off of the Wacissa is Big Blue. It’s about 70 feet wide and 45 feet deep. I forgot to take a picture, but it’s a beautiful spring and a photo wouldn’t have done it justice.

I’ve become such a junkie for all things outdoors. I can’t get over how beautiful and verdant Tallahassee is during this time of year. Even the drenching humidity, heat, and summer thunderstorms can’t keep me away.

weekend adventures: wakulla springs

My friends and I went to Wakulla Springs State Park this weekend to cool off by the springs.

Wakulla Walkway

The Wakulla Springs are old, like Saber-Tooth old. They were home to our prehistoric ancestors. I’m fascinated that I have a chance to swim in the same waters they did

Springs

and walk in the same forests.

Wakulla Tree Path

These days, I’m falling deeply in love with North Florida. It’s going to be a hard place to leave.

Mossy Trees

On Sunday, I continued with my equestrian lessons. So here are some gratuitous photos of that. These are the only photos where I don’t have a terrified look on my face, so I’m posting ’em!

I am having a blast at these lessons. I never grew out of my childhood “horse phase.”

Ok, so I sort of look like I’m about to fall off in this picture. I’m getting more comfortable and much faster. I can’t wait to start jumping over things.

And I love this horse. He’s such a sweetie!

Twister

apalachicola was so good to us

Sigh. Why did our weekend in Apalachicola have to end? My friends and I rented a condo by the bay and spent most of our time inebriated reveling in the charm of this ‘old Florida town.’

Why do sleepovers disappear once we grow up? Waking up next to my friends is the best, and not just because of their morning cocktail skills, but because they remember to buy pickled green bean stirrers.

bloody mary

I made my favorite banana pancake recipe for them. <3

Our condo came with bikes, so naturally we took to the town (which couldn’t have been larger than a square mile).

bikes

bikes

Apalachicola has a large art scene. There are quite a few galleries and displays of local artists are everywhere. My favorite were the garden decor and sculptures.

sculpted fish

sculpted chickens

This town had, you know…priorities.

liquor potter

And so did we. I had my first push pop.

push pops

Bought these awesome under-the-sea sprinkles!

sharks sprinkles

And made sure to take plenty of photos with tacky 90’s girl-power bumper stickers.

chicks rule

I love the coconut candle display in the background.

bust a move

A lot of these pictures came out dark, so I experimented with some photo effects.

We perused the beer aisle of our favorite liquor store last weekend. It’s near the college campus, so we rarely visit it.

beer aisle

I love the colors.

beer aisle

These bottles would make pretty vases. Don’t you think?

beer

This week a good friend of mine taught me how to make some jam with all of those blueberries. It was way yum-o! Sorry no pictures.

Then we had a tasty potluck followed by one of the highlights of my summer.

skate inn

That’s right. I was so excited about a visit to the skating rink, I took a picture from the car.

How great is this sign?

skate inn

Gorgeous. The whole place sort of reeked with a failed 90’s party, which made it way better.

Case 1:

skates

I asked if they had any prettier shoes and got the stink eye. Ok, mister, jeeze.

Complete with disco ball.

disco ball

There was certainly a fondness for the rink’s glory days.

90s award

It’s probably been twelve years since I’ve roller skated. It wipes you out. Oh, and I’m totally awful at it. My friend had to hold my hand pretty much the entire time. That doesn’t make it any less fun, though. They don’t tell you that the hardest part of skating is avoiding the children spilling out and busting bones right in front of you. I still don’t know how to brake in skates.

Regardless, it brought back my fondness for this song, which was one of my favorite Beach Boys songs.

Tallahassee has two skating rinks. I hear the other one has beer and square-shaped pizzas. We’re in. By the end of the summer, you bet we’ll be roller skating queens.

Turns out, the music doesn’t change much in roller rinks.

Have a good Monday, folks.

blueberry picking summer fun

Ryan and I took a trip outside of town at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning to pick some blueberries. We got a little turned around, and when I saw these lovely fellas sitting by the side of the road I made him stop so we could ask them for directions, pet them!, take photos.

I’m such a dopey animal lover. I love that their noses are covered in dirt. Also, hello, baby!

We made it to the farm where we started picking. They were $3.50 a pound. What a steal.

blueberry picking

blueberries

The under-ripe berries had the prettiest colors.

blueberries

It was a pesticide-free farm, so we had a few little creatures join

wormI thoroughly inspected each berry before I bit into it.

berries

In the end, we walked out with about 5 lbs of berries.  Maybe we went a little overboard. We’ve been eating them like candy and trying to find creative ways to use them. We’re hoping we don’t have to freeze them.

So I made this cobbler.

cobbler

I used this recipe, which I don’t recommend. It was way too buttery and less crumbly. Later this week I’m making blueberry jam. I also plan to dehydrate some, since dehydrated blueberries are the best. Do you have any suggestions for blueberries?