Five Things I’m Loving Lately | 3

How are you doing this week?! It’s sometimes hard to believe half of February has come and gone, and Spring will be here before we know it. I’m still hoping for one big, magical snow in Raleigh before Springtime arrives, so fingers crossed for a cozy snow day! We’ve had so many nonstop straight days of rain that sunshine – or snow! – would be much appreciated. We’re getting back into the swing of things after our winter beach getaway, virtually celebrating all three of our nephews/niece’s birthdays within a span of ten days, celebrating Valentine’s Day with our usual low-key yet sweet traditions, and working my way through an ever-growing stack of books to be read! I’ve also been missing friends a lot lately (even more so than usual!), so I scheduled many zoom hangouts with various groups of best friends so that I have something especially wonderful to look forward to.

Valentine’s Day | Rob and I had a really sweet Valentine’s Day together at home: we made German apple pancakes for breakfast, joined our church online, had lots of Facetimes with our families, went on a walk together, played chess, I took a bubble bath (with wine and a book!), and then enjoyed our usual traditions of a fancy three-course meal at home. Rob used a gift card from The Butcher’s Market for some massive, delicious porterhouse steaks, I set the table for a romantic dinner, poured red wine from our favorite winery (Pippin Hill in Charlottesville), lit candles, exchanged love notes, and enjoyed a really special date night in (which is what we do every year!). I also made our favorite black bottom peanut butter mousse pie with a chocolate ganache heart and Maldon salt – yum (recipe here)! It’s hard to believe it’s our fifth Valentine’s Day together, and goodness do the years together just keep getting sweeter and sweeter. Marriage to Rob is truly the best gift I’ve been given this side of Heaven, and I am incredibly thankful to share this life with him.

weekend hikes around the Triangle | I shared that Rob and I have been enjoying hikes on Saturdays this winter around the Triangle, and I had a few requests to share some of our favorite spots. For us, the less crowded, the better, and I’m also really glad to have friends who hike way more often that we do and have shared some of their favorites with us! We enjoy hikes/walks around Jordan Lake, Lake Johnson (more of a walk but it’s where we went for our second date!), Durant Nature Preserve, Falls Lake, the Eno River State Park, the Mountains to Sea Trail, Umstead Park, and the Neuse River Trail. There are, of course, many more excellent hikes the further west you go in the state to the mountains!

daily step count | I mentioned this earlier in January, and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made every single day since then, too! I’ve gone on a walk (or, while we were at the beach, three walks every day!) every day this year, no matter the weather. I’m more of an all-or-nothing sort of girl when it comes to things like this (“four or five days a week” just doesn’t do it for me), and I have thoroughly enjoyed all of these winter walks: most with Rob, a couple with an audiobook, some with just prayer… some freezing cold, some in the rain, and a few precious ones on the beach. I figure (and we discussed in articles club!) that there isn’t necessarily bad weather but bad clothing, so I’ve just been sure to bundle up and appreciate the weather for what it is. I’m also very, very proud that my daily step count in February has increased 4x what it was in November and December. I’m on a mission to keep that number increasing and continue walks every single day. And when it’s a smidge warmer, lots of tennis!

cooking & baking | I love seeing what others are up to in the kitchen, and my friends and I are often swapping favorite recipes. Some of the highlights that Rob and I have made in the last couple weeks include Half Baked Harvest’s french onion soup (from her Super Simple cookbook; far and away the best cookbook ever!), cinnamon roll pancakes a la Metro Diner (so much butter ah!), these beloved coq au vin meatballs from HBH (probably in our top five meals cooked, ever – we make these often!!), the indulgent and decadent Poole’s Diner mac and cheese gratin (if you know, you know. oh my goodness!), HBH pork schnitzel with lemon (also from her Super Simple cookbook), and HBH chicken pot pie with rosemary (again: just buy the cookbook because it’s worth it!). Don’t worry; we have plenty of salads to balance these all out! One of my favorite “salads” these days includes: arugula, grilled chicken breast, roasted chickpeas, golden raisins, feta, caramelized onions, and blueberries. No dressing is needed, and it’s so flavorful, delicious, and healthy. I’ve made a lot of these for lunch and love it every time!

Floret Flower puzzle | Board games and puzzles have been in heavy rotation this winter, and I was so excited to get this beautiful Floret Flower double-sided puzzle for Christmas. I love that it has two sides (double the fun!), and it’s simply beautiful. Working on puzzles is so soothing and a fun distraction away from any screens… and I always feel such a sense of accomplishment when I complete one, ha! Puzzles are also perfect for swapping with family and friends.

What about you?! Have you discovered or tried anything new and noteworthy over the past few weeks?! Do any of these five resonate with you? Do tell, if so!

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5 thoughts on “Five Things I’m Loving Lately | 3

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