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Friday, January 29, 2016

It's Friday, Love

{ New favorites }

Why do short weeks always feel like the longest? I'm beat. After days and days of endlessly shoveling snow the normal routine was actually welcome. But then session did what session does and being around that many people for that long just drained me. I am grateful that the stars aligned and I got to do something I was afraid I wouldn't be able to. Thanks, whomever is up there. Is it whoever or whomever? Whomever came out first, but I'm not sure if that's right? Also looking forward to the band's first show of the year Saturday night. We haven't performed since early December so I'm really looking forward to singing and trying out some new songs. Have a great weekend everyone!


{ Snow Day Breakfast = Egg, Spaghetti Squash and Mushroom Hash with Blackberries and Sliced Pear }

{ Thought these would be fun to try out for Saturday's show }

{ And then the clean-up begins }

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Lie to Me

Sometimes honesty is the best policy. Other times, I'd rather you lie to me. As you guys already know, I don't have a sweet tooth, but I can eat pasta till the cows come home. Since that's not the best idea for me all the time, spaghetti squash is the perfect yummy solution. My friend Pam makes an an amazing spaghetti squash dish with sausage and ricotta cheese. Oh my god, it's fabulous! The squash itself tastes like al dente angel hair. You'd never know it wasn't actually pasta, especially with a decadent sauce to accompany it. Did I mention I like being lied to some times? I made a version this weekend with pesto and it turned out great. Perfect for a late day lunch after shoveling snow for hours!

Here's how I did it.....

Roast a spaghetti squash for about an hour on 400. I cut it in half and then added salt, pepper, minced garlic and olive oil. Shred the squash with a fork and mix with pesto and red pepper if you like. I topped it with Parmesan cheese and baked for another 20 minutes in a baking dish. Yum!

Monday, January 25, 2016

All the Men and Women

When I wrote this post about session last year I was feeling very differently about, politics. I felt light-hearted, almost hopeful....excited. This year, for many reasons, I'm feeling a bit more sober. Maybe it's the realization that I've exhausted all possibilities. Maybe it's the fact that it's an election year, which always exhausts me from the sheer lunacy of what the process has become. Governing is now an afterthought. Despite my drab tone today, I still love the work I get to do.

"All the men and women together are more than all the men and women separately."

Frederick Douglass

That quote, which hung in my father's office and now hangs in mine, is never more beautifully on display than MLK Day down at the Virginia General Assembly. The sheer number of advocacy events that happen that day mean that almost every facet of life is represented. Some I agree with, some I don't. Some I abhor and some I applaud. All are passionate and vocal. All say they are well informed and full of facts that will illustrate the path they suggest is the right one. The problem is that every year each sides' capacity to listen to the other becomes smaller. 

As I walked the halls doing meetings on that particular day Mr. Douglass' quote kept creeping back into my imagination. Tolerance and understanding, while perceptionally corny and rarely on display, are the only things that I hope will save us in the end. Whether we like it or not, we're all in this together.

Friday, January 22, 2016

It's Friday, Love

{ Steak and Eggs for brunch at The Roosevelt }

I wish I had woken up very differently this morning, but as I already know very well, we don't always get what we want in life. I could dwell on phrases like life isn't fair, but that won't do anyone good, least of all me. All I can do is savor good moments and hope that I have another one soon.

Here in RVA we're hunkering down for a record-breaking snow storm. I'm as stocked up as I can be and hoping I've calculated the right amount of wine to have on hand. On a serious note, please be safe and say a prayer for those who are trying to find somewhere warm to sleep through the storm.

See ya Monday.......

{ Feelin like stripes }

{ 30 minute strength training and cardio workouts you can do at home are saving my life right now }

{ Finally get to break out my favorite cozy sweaters }

{ Sunday's brief snow from my backyard }

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chocolate Almond Butter Energy Bites

There's nothing worse on a long bike ride than your muscles giving out on you. One minute you're fine and the next your legs feel like lead weights and the pedals cement blocks you can't break free from. It teaches you very quickly the importance of eating enough and the energy your body can't live without.

There's a lot of great products bikers use that are specifically designed to replenish energy so we can keep going another 25 miles. The everyday 3pm energy slump is another matter. I always feel a little dip around then and instead of reaching for a giant cup of coffee or potato chips (which scientifically taste better from 3-4pm), I started looking around for a healthy snack that would give me the energy I need to make it to dinner, but also taste really good.

Most of the things I found that market themselves as energy snacks have tons of sugar, real or artificial, and a lot of calories. Luckily, when I was in Seattle this summer I stopped in a juice bar and found the best homemade energy bites ever. The owner was nice enough to share her recipe and voila! They're totally no-bake, great for an afternoon or post-workout snack and, I think, taste like coconut fudge. Here's the recipe, enjoy!


1 cup dry oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix everything together and then chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. Then roll into bite size balls or press into a pan and slice as you would brownies. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Miss A Goes to Lowe's

Waddup humans!

My name is Miss Austen and this is my mom's blog, Austen Hill. I accompany her on a lot of the adventures you see featured, but I'm not always in the photos because I don't like to hold still and I'm really only concerned about where my next meal is coming from, so my one facial expression is hunger. I do love looking back at the photos from where we've been and reading about all of the trouble we get into. We have a pretty fun life. Lately, I've been wanting to contribute to the blog too, so I asked my mom if I could do a post about one of my favorite places in Richmond, Lowe's. Of course she said yes!

I absolutely love going to Lowe's! It's the best. I get to meet new people and walk around sniffing all kinds of new smells. Occasionally, there's even other dogs there that I get to meet. If there was a snack bar with food for me and wine for her, mom and I could live there, no problem. She says it's especially nice to take me there when it's cold outside so I get some exercise and she gets to buy things.........something about two birds and a stone??? I like chasing birds but I don't ever see any at Lowe's so I think she's wrong about that part.

That's me above in the cleaning aisle. We walk through this aisle and my mom looks around but never buys anything. I don't understand because I see other people buying things from it all the time. When I go to other people's houses they have these things too. We don't. My mom says it's because dirt is good for me and my immune system. I don't know what an immune system is but it sounds important. 

I think we'd only been there about 10 minutes at this point, but I was already tired. I like laying on the floor because it feels cool on my belly.....another one of my favorite things. 

This is the paint aisle. We spend a lot of time here. My mom holds colors up for me to look at so I can give her my opinion. I never have the heart to tell her I can only see in black and white, poor thing. She does like to paint and is never afraid to try a new color. I wanted to help when she was painting the kitchen a couple years ago, so I started painting the floor grey with my paws. She wasn't happy that I tried to help so I stay out of her way now. 

I thought I saw a cute guy walking ahead of us so I ran after him and yelled, "Hey you! Are you single? Do you want to date my mom?". I ran through a couple aisles to find him but I lost him. My mom doesn't like it when I do this, but heck, she's not having any luck on her own so I figure what the hell? For the record, part of the reason she may not be having any luck is because she goes to Lowe's in yoga pants and Ugg boots sans makeup. It's pretty rough, and she doesn't get the hint when I offer to go get her brush from the bathroom upstairs before we leave. 

This is what I call the "big tool" section. My mom has no idea what any of this stuff is. Well, I take that back. She can use a drill, but even that's spotty at best. Thank goodness there are people who come over to fix things when they break at the house. I love people coming over, but my mom seems tense when this happens and says things like, "there goes your college fund". 

This is what I call the "knick-knack" section. My mom comes here a lot too. She buys things then gets them home and they don't work so she has to take them back. When they don't work and she makes giant/multiple holes in the wall, she uses (shouts) words that she tells me are bad and I shouldn't use. So why can she use them? Totally not fair being a dog sometimes.

I'm tired again so you know the drill. The plants are always so pretty, I love looking at them. My mom doesn't buy them as much as she used to because she says she just kills them. PS, this is my "I'm hungry" expression.

I hope you've enjoyed this small glimpse into one of my favorite spots in Richmond. I'm hard at work thinking of other fun spots to show you as well. My mom is encouraging me to do more things like this which I really appreciate. She keeps saying something about me earning my keep.

See you,
Miss A

PS: Just so you know, my mommy is the best mommy in the whole world and I'm the luckiest dog in the whole world! She paid me to write that:).

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's Friday, Love

{ Late afternoon January Sun }
A woman's hair is very important to her. I can't explain it. If it looks bad we will most certainly be having a bad day. If it looks great, the zombie apocalypse can't stop us. So when I left my long-time hair salon last January and ventured out in search of something new, I was hoping to find the perfect fit. My old place had been doing a fair job and I always felt good about my hair, but I'd been asking for changes that they weren't doing. I still felt like I walked out with the same old color and the same old cut. I needed a change.

The first place I went to cut four inches off of my hair after I clearly stated in plain English that 1/2 an inch was my limit. Then began a series of new salons over the course of a year but nothing ever felt right. The last straw came in December when I tried someone (who came highly recommended) that literally turned me into a blonde after I clearly stated, again in plain English, that I always like a few highlights but I NEVER want to be a blonde.

Maybe it was the calendar year. Maybe it was me. Who knows. But I did some more research, set up a consultation before I ever set up an appointment and finally (hopefully) have found what I was looking for. Heather at Mango Salon in Short Pump is da bomb! We clicked right away and I really love what she did with my hair. I'm a brunette! Well, I've always been a brunette, but my natural color is this yucky Irish dishwater brown that is now mixed with copious amounts of grey. Yeah me! Hopefully now it's the color I should have been born with.

Having said that, a big change is still always a big change no matter how much you like what's happened. I'm still getting used to it, but I'm really happy. It feels more like me. Did I mention that I HATED being blonde? Hopefully I'm finally on the right road. So..... lots of hair talk today, but see the first few sentences of my's really important!:) The rest of the week has been busy and not too bad. Hope everything is on a good road now that I'm thinking about it. Have a great weekend!

{ Dear Target, It's January so this upsets me. Love, Kelly }

{ It literally pains me to write this as a life-long fan, but I really didn't enjoy Star Wars }

{ Hoping brunettes have more fun }

{ Need to remind myself of this after a long day when all I want to do is put on yoga pants and drink wine }

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Bowled Over

Traditional January detox philosophy tells us salads are good for us. Eat light, give your stomach a break and a chance to reset. In my experience, there is something to that way of thinking. Just like any part of your body that's been overused, rest is in order.

But for me, eating a flimsy salad in the winter can actually be detrimental. It's really cold outside. I need some good hearty food to warm me up. Cue the earth bowl! It's a new trendy "salad" that I highly suggest you try. The best part about this easily searchable Pinterest phenomenon is that you can really throw in whatever you'd like. Roasted vegetables, nuts, spinach, proteins like chicken, chick peas or quinoa.....the sky is the limit.

For this recent lunch bowl I threw in the following:

Cauliflower and Carrots Roasted with Cumin, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper
Red Cabbage

It was really yummy and I've been making them almost every day with different fun things thrown in. I hope you'll give it a try and enjoy a hearty, yet healthy, winter meal.