You Might be Seeing a Theme Here

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So – as you look through all the pictures from this past week, you may begin to notice a recurring theme – there is a lot of white. Mostly because that has been the landscape for the entirety of the past week and weekend. It started snowing last Saturday and has continued to do that in some form or another almost every day this week. I don’t know what your sentiments are on Winter where you live, but I’ve about had enough of it to last until at least November or December.

Monday – we welcome Winter Storm Octavia…

I don’t know why I’m making this face _ guess I was confused by the snow?

I was off work on Monday and so I battened down the hatches to wait for Winter Storm Octavia to arrive – and arrive it did around 10:30 or 11. Nothing too crazy but snow just started to float down and down and down and continued to do so all day long and into the night. A friend of ours stayed with us on Monday night so she could get to and from work in the snow on Tuesday morning – she lives in the mountains and it isn’t exactly easy to get down back roads in the snow – and so we had a grand time watching the snow fall, eating taco soup and watching some Monday night TV together. My parents probably had a less grand time on Monday night; my Mom was flying back from a weekend in Chicago with a friend and once she got to the airport in DC, she had to catch two metros out to Vienna where my Dad picked her up and then they slowly crept home on snow-covered roads. I was glad I missed that experience but it was silly of me to think that…because I’d have my own, much worse experience later in the week.

Puppy tracks in the snow.

Monday night, before the snow plow truck arrived. 

I’ve had so many friends in MS text me and tell me how pretty/beautiful/lovely the snow looks and let me tell you – it does look lovely and beautiful and pretty…for about an hour. After that, along come dogs to pee in it, plow trucks to crunch it up, people to walk through it and make it brown and gray and black and gross. It has been so cold here that snow piles up in mounds 6-8 feet high and will honestly probably be there until sometime in late March or early April when Spring arrives and properly begins thawing things out. This Winter; my first in Virginia, has certainly been a crash course in learning all about the realities of snow. I still love it but this week has tested that relationship 100%…especially when Saturday rolled around and it looked like a blizzard outside. At this point, I have seen enough snow and when I look at the forecast and see that it’s scheduled to snow again…well I just want to scream a little bit.

The “pretty” snow makes everyone;s cars look messy (okay, that’s really salt that they use to keep snow from making roads slippery…but still)…

When the snow melts, it slides down the car & forms huge icicles that look like they are anchoring the car to the ground. Pretty funny.

Tuesday afternoon exploration party across the frozen tundra….

I guess his food bowl makes a good nap spot?

Wednesday was a gorgeous day – the forecast called for snow but I just had a hard time believing that with how nice it was outside – I should have believed it though. I spent the day running errands for my new job; I had to go pick up paperwork to fill out and I went to have fingerprints done. I have to say, I am so excited about my new job; the people I will be working with are absolutely great and I can’t wait to join their team! We all clicked from my first interview and I know I’ll love working with this company. Once I finished running around the countryside on Wednesday, I went home for just a little while before going into work and out of nowhere…literally, out of a clear blue sky, over the mountains came a crazy blizzard! It only lasted about fifteen minutes but it might have been the wildest showing of weather since I’ve been here. Huge flakes swirling so fast and thick that within minutes, the view of the road had been obscured from view and the back porch was completely covered – it was wild – and just like that, it was gone!

About the business of work business…ha-ha!

A puppy paw in the snow, tracking a kitty paw in the snow – Watson has cat fever bad!

The snow arrives out of nowhere…

Covers the deck in a matter of minutes…& did I mention you can normally see the highway & the mountains from here?

Traffic lights plastered with snow!

Even the weeds in the field had a pretty intense dusting of the stuff!

The weather really got fun on Thursday when the highs hovered somewhere in the single digits and when the wind blew (which was basically all the time) it was in the negative – you guys, that is COLD. So far Watson has done really well with the cold but once it got this cold…well, I think he has reached his limits. Even with his toasty sweater on, when I take him out he immediately finds a potty spot, uses the restroom and then turns tail and hauls for the front door. He does still love snow and bounds through it with wild abandon; even when he sinks into the snow up to his neck he happily crawls himself out and keeps right on exploring. He’s adjusted so well to living in Virginia and the snow but I do think he’s really not too interested in frigid cold, ha-ha.

The many faces of Amelia at Kitchen of Hope!

She wasn’t quite awake when I took this picture, bless her.

Frigid Friday morning solution – just curl yourself around the heat vent!

The gigantic snow piles at the mall – huge hills that will probably be with us till March…

Friday when I got to work, I got some rather ominous news – news that should have told me what my weekend might hold – but I tried to remain optimistic. My assistant manager had been sick with some strain of a stomach virus/flu on Tuesday and Wednesday but she was back at work on Thursday; even though she felt pretty weak. That alone wouldn’t have been too alarming but on Thursday and Friday two other co-workers went down with the same thing and when I got told that on Friday at work…knowing that I’d worked with all three of them at some point over the past week, well I got a bit worried. I passed my afternoon at work, went home and had pizza for supper (I know…oh gee…) while the parents and I had a House of Cards marathon and then I went to bed, excited for Saturday: we were going to see the ballet Sleepy Hollow at the Kennedy Center and I was praying the snow would hold off. I prayed for the wrong thing…ha!

Watson (who has been hashtagged as #snowwatson by Hope) exploring the snowy streets on Friday afternoon.

Peering around the trees at something across the golf course…

Lemon cupcakes that I won in a Facebook post – pretty tasty.

Saturday – oh can I just attest to what a miserable day it was. I woke up at 5 AM with stomach problems of a whole different nature than throwing up and dealt with that until almost 8 AM. My stomach felt so unsettled and all I could do was try to tell myself that I was NOT getting sick…I was not. Of course, the sky started pouring snow around 8 AM and it was not light and fluffy! We weighed our options and decided we’d try to make the drive into DC so we didn’t lose our tickets to the ballet – we’d just take it slow and steady and my Mom was certain I’d feel better once we got to DC. We were operating on optimism here people! The best idea of the day? My Dad suggesting that we bring some plastic bags in the car just in case – which, thank the good Lord we did because we hadn’t made it 45 minutes down the road before my stomach problems took a turn for the worse. The dreaded stomach virus/flu/illness had struck and it had struck at a horrible moment. We got almost to the Vienna Fairfax exit before realizing that as slow as we were moving, we weren’t even going to make it to the Kennedy Center on time for the ballet.

This realization was swayed by the fact that I threw up for a second time and so we decided to just give it up and turn back. All the news we saw showed that the snow would eventually turn to sleet and it would make the roads that much worse. So our Saturday fun? Joy riding on the snow and ice, taking 4.5 hours to drive what would normally take us 2 hours to do and throwing up in Wal Mart bags in the back seat! Sound like a good time to you? Ha-yeah right! It obviously exhausted everyone because once we got home (around 2:30…we’d left at 10:30) it didn’t take long and all three of us were asleep. It snowed from 8 in the morning and was still snowing when the sun set.

The roads on the way to DC on Saturday – taken before the stomach virus crap took hold…

The only thing I “ate” for about 24 hours. Lovely.

Sunday was a long day as well. I started to struggle back to feeling like I wasn’t going to die on the bathroom floor – I was able to sip some Gatorade and finally took the bait on a piece of toast, mostly because my head was pounding due to lack of food. It’s funny when your body revolts against you – it doesn’t really revolt as a unit; your stomach turns on you but your head is still like “hello…I need you to feed me!” *sigh* Of course Sunday was absolutely beautiful and I spent most of it on the couch. My parents built some amazing snow creatures and played with Watson in the snow for almost two hours; happily taking advantage of the gorgeous weather.

Probably the most snow we’ve gotten since I have lived here.

Always begging for food…even if it’s the first piece of real food that I’ve had in almost 48 hours.

Playing in the snow is tiring.

All in all, this past week was good but man, the weekend definitely took things to a new level of crummy. I told my Mom that I didn’t think I’d had a stomach bug/flu in a long time and I don’t care to have it again. Heaven knows, I’m  making the climb back to feeling normal (I actually ate some real food today, ha-ha) but the weekend whacked the week in the face! Eek! 

The Week that Something Awesome Happened!

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Yet another post where I’m sitting and writing this while I wait to see what kind of crazy winter weather Mother Nature will deliver to us – supposedly 5-8 inches of snow. Granted, a Weather app that I have also said it’s supposed to start snowing in the next 15 minutes and that hasn’t come to pass…yet…

It’s coming though; the Winter weather. Whether it be a light dusting or a intense downfall, something will happen – so I might as well blog while I wait to see what happens, right? This week has been full of some wonderful moments and one or two crummy ones, but overall it was a week that I’ll remember for a good while. Some weeks pass and you don’t want to remember them; you wish you could strike them from the record of your life and not look back, this week was NOT one of those weeks, ha-ha!

Watson loves to find new and soft spots to take naps – he especially likes to nap on my bed.

I found these at a pet shop in Winchester & just couldn’t resist.

This week could probably best be titled as “I’m Going to get a Job this Week” and that would be the best way to describe it. I was off all day Monday and my only commitment was a job interview in the afternoon. I go through weird cycles before a job interview; I get excited and then I get nervous and then once I arrive at the interview, I feel completely calm. Someone told me once that I did really well in an interview setting and I think I’ve held onto that and ran with it. Regardless; I went into my interview and really enjoyed meeting the people at the office and enjoyed the time I spent in the interview – I suppose they liked me just fine because I was asked to come back on Thursday and meet with the owner! I took that as a good sign and headed home feeling like things might be about to change for me – and for the better, ha-ha!

Watson thinks he’s begging on the sly…

Tuesday morning sunrise! 

Watching the world go by from his spot in the chair…

Tuesday and Wednesday seemed to pass pretty fast and furious – I spent all day Tuesday at Hallmark; working actual 9-5 hours like I had once gotten so accustomed to. Wednesday morning was taken up with a follow-up interview/working interview with another company; this interview also went well and when I went to meet my Mom for lunch, I again had that feeling that perhaps the days of working retail to scrape together money to pay the bills might be something that was about to be in the past. I enjoyed spending Wednesday night at Bible Study with the wonderful ladies at my church; it’s a rare and wonderful thing to find such love and support in a group of ladies but I certainly feel like I have that with the ladies group at our church. I was overjoyed about my prospective job possibilities and everyone there was excited along with me!

Amelia just couldn’t hang with us on Wednesday night…

A look at some days (actually probably weeks) old snow for all my friends in the South.

Snow flurries abounded here…starting on Thursday & coming & going every day since…

Thursday was the day – the day that made this week so memorable – because on Thursday, I got a job! I think I’ll save the tale of that for another post but suffice it to say, I went for my follow-up interview and within a little over an hour of leaving, I’d been offered a job. A job that I immediately accepted because I loved the office, I love the environment and I loved the people that I met with – I immediately felt at home in the office and I just knew; I knew after months of prayer for the Lord to bring me the right job, this was THE job. And so I start that job on March 4th and I cannot wait! The reaction from friends and family was absolutely awesome and I couldn’t have been more excited – I’ve spent the rest of the week and weekend on cloud nine and I can’t wait to see what the future brings!

Slightly excited about my new job!

Are you joking me with this weather?

Happy (early) Valentines Day – my parents are so sweet!

The weekend seems like it went by in a blur – we drove into DC on Friday night to take my Mom to the airport and then spent the rest of the night trying to find somewhere to eat, ha-ha! It’s next to impossible to find food at a sit down restaurant on a Friday night, especially when it’s the Friday before Valentines Day! Texas Roadhouse finally came to our rescue and we ate and headed on home. Saturday morning we found ourselves in the same position – the wait time at IHOP: an hour and 45 minutes, the wait time at Cracker Barrel: 45 minutes, the wait time at Bob Evans: 15 minutes, which was really 30 but we stayed there anyway.

Blazing through DC on a Friday evening…

Cuddling with my boo on a chilly Saturday morning.

I worked on Saturday night and when I left for work, it was windy and cold and that was about all. I arrived at work at 5:30 and the skies were clear. Forty-five minutes later, snow had come out of nowhere and the whole parking lot was completely covered with snow – the weather is crazy like that. I wasn’t too concerned until it came time to drive home and then things got real. I’d been told that the main roads were fine, but I obviously use different main roads than some other people because my drive home was not fine – it was the ultimate driving test. The roads were mostly covered in snow and I could feel my tires playing tug of war with not sliding me off the road. I made it almost to the house before I slid along for a while…luckily I remembered not to hit the brakes and I managed to get off the road, slowly creep down the hill and back up it to where our house is. I’ve never been so glad to be somewhere…and I’d rather not have to drive on the snow again! Eek! It’s safe to say the road crews were not prepared for this little dusting of snow…

It only took 45 minutes…

Oh look – the road is covered with snow. Lovely.

Walking the dog in negative temps – always an adventure.

Sunday was COLD. Guys, I’m talking it was absolutely frigid and the roads were covered in icy crappiness and I was battling the beginning stages of a crappy cold and no one likes that. After my Dad and I watched a couple cars trying to slip and slide down the road out of our neighborhood, we decided we’d be better suited to stay put and not risk the big slide down the hill. I spent the day alternately sleeping and taking DayQuil and just generally doing a whole lot of nothing. Once the roads were cleared, we did go to church on Sunday night for the Silent Auction/Valentine dinner and then I was all too happy to end the night with tea, Downton Abbey and crawling into my toasty bed while the freezing wind whipped outside the house.

Watson was only interested in staying good & snuggled up.

Dad really outdid himself with our lunch on Sunday.

Sunday night at church – food & friends.

Watson relaxing on Sunday night. He’s so weird.

So – that was this week in a nutshell. The awesomeness of getting a job made this week an absolutely wonderful week. Sure, getting a cold wasn’t exactly splendid…but nothing could dampen the thrill of my new job. Absolutely nothing. So, here’s to many more weeks filled with awesome; I’m sure they’ll be happening – because I think finding the awesome in things can be done. You just have to look a little harder some weeks than others.

Ham & Bacon Corn Chowder

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Let me level with you – while the chicken may not have been perfection on the first try…this recipe here is something that I cannot proclaim over enough. It was delicious, from the first taste to the bite I had today warmed up as leftovers. I am a huge fan of soup/stew/chowder and this recipe certainly didn’t disappoint! This is originally a Paula Deen recipe (and there is no butter y’all…amazing) so I felt like it was bound to be tasty – and I was right!

All the makings of some delicious chowda!

I’m pretty sure I would have been content to eat just this…

What You Need

– 6-8 pieces of bacon; cooked
– 1 package of Hormal small diced ham
– 4 medium red potatoes, cubed
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 2 tsp. dried oregano
– 2 cups chicken stock
– 2 cans cream-style corn
– salt & pepper to taste
– 2 cups half & half

Oh my yes – starting to look & smell heavenly…

Half & Half always makes things nicer, am I right?

What You’ll Do

– In a medium stock pot add bacon, potatoes, oregano and onion. Cook over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent; about 7 minutes.
– Pour in the chicken stock, corn and ham. Bring this to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
– In a small saucepan, warm the half & half but do NOT boil. Add the warm half & half just before serving.
– Garnish with chives, shredded cheddar cheese or whatever else you think would make this dish especially delicious! Enjoy!
The finished chowder – ready to be chowed down on.

I’ll take all the bowls please.

I don’t know what your weather is going to be like over the next few days but here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is going to be cold. I mean cold as in – COLD – the high on Sunday is 18! So it’s perfect soup weather and this one kicked things off perfectly with it’s warm, creamy and delicious taste! I hope you enjoy!

Brown Sugar Baked Garlic Chicken

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So – this was a Pintrest try and while we (being my Mom and I) really enjoyed it, I think I already have an addendum to it that I think would really kick up the flavor a notch! I’ll let you decide whether you want to cook it the original way or the kicked up way – and if you try the kicked up way, let me know what you think!

Not many ingredients in this one – simple, easy & delicious!

What You Need

– 4-6 chicken tenderloins/3-4 thin chicken breasts
– 2 tbsp. olive oil
– 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
– 4 tbsp. brown sugar
– salt & pepper to taste
What You’ll Do
– Preheat the oven to 450. In a skillet, combine the olive oil, garlic powder and brown sugar to create a sauce/rub.
– Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Apply the brown sugar and garlic mixture to the chicken; covering the chicken as liberally as possible.
– Cook for 25-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken or until the juices run clear.

Chicken – before & after!

Now then – all this business about kicking things up a notch. The outside of the chicken had a lovely, tasty bit of crispiness and flavor…but it didn’t really permeate too deep into the chicken. A thought that my Mom and I ruminated on as we ate – it just needed a little something more. My suggestion? Well, since I ate this with a little bit of barbecue sauce, that’s what I’m thinking needs to be added. Also – up the ante on the garlic and the brown sugar! 

I think next time I whip this up, I’ll mix my sauce/rub together ahead of time and add in a couple tablespoons of my favorite Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and then put my chicken and my saucy concoction in a Ziploc bag to marinate for the day. I’ll add a little sprinkle of salt, pepper and brown sugar on top before cooking to give it a nice crisp and I’m betting it will turn out absolutely delightful!