a lesson in gratitude

We got the news on Halloween day, in the midst of costumes and Elsa braids and where’s my treat bucket.

Our furnace is unsafe, the technician said, and we really shouldn’t use it anymore. It is 21 years old, after all. We’ve been heating and cooling the house on borrowed time for the last few years, so we knew this news was coming. It was just a matter of when.

So that must be why it didn’t occur to me at that very moment that forecasters had called for a freezing cold weekend and we needed to figure out how to stay warm. That and the fact that trick-or-treating was starting and the girls had already bolted out the door before my brain could register much of anything.

Late that night, as Marc and I decamped to the family room couch after wrestling two sugar-laden little girls to bed, it hit me: we need heat. We had one space-heater, but I worried that it wouldn’t be enough to keep all of us warm through the night.

My first thought: neighbors.

I didn’t want to disturb them with late-night texts, so I put out a call for space heaters in our Facebook group. Within minutes of that post going live, our next-door neighbor was at the door with a space heater.

And then the flood began. Texts, calls and offers of help and heaters rolled in over the next hour and clear through the weekend.

Nearly a week later, I’m still overwhelmed with gratitude. We are blessed with the best neighbors on the planet. Our own little cul-de-sac village, plus a dear friend down the street who seems to have a sixth sense when people are in need.

And don’t even get me started on my husband. He sprang into action the very next day, ripping out duct work and clearing our crawl space of decades’ worth of accumulated junk. He hauled away metal and insulation and the very furnace itself, clearing the way for today’s installation (hallelujah) and saving us a few thousand dollars. There were moments this week, like when we were kneeling together to measure the space to be cut for a new vent and I saw his sweat dripping onto the sub-floor, that I realized how much I love this man and how very much he cares for his family.

My dad also came to the rescue, helping Marc over several days to do the heavy lifting and hauling and driving all over town to dump everything in the right places. Mom cooked us hot soup on one of the coldest nights and insisted that we sleep over. I feel so blessed not only to have my parents nearby, but for all the ways they love and support us.

We survived this week by the grace of people who care for us.

How lucky we are! And warm. So very warm.

elsa and elsa

“our” North Carolina State Fair


As I held the little plastic bag to Lily’s mouth while her breakfast came up on the parking lot shuttle bus (I caught it all! Mom win!) I thought for sure we’d be turning right back around to go home.

I was wrong.

My six-year-old daughter, infused with the Spirit of the State Fair, rallied, and we had a wonderful Sunday morning filled with everything we love (EXCEPT rides, of course).

Ann came along to document our fun, and I’m so grateful for that. She captured “our” fair so beautifully. You’d never even know how the day began …


Fair_web-4 Fair_web-5 Fair_web-7 Fair_web-9 Fair_web-11 Fair_web-13 Fair_web-17 Fair_web-18 Fair_web-19 Fair_web-22 Fair_web-23 Fair_web-24 Fair_web-27 Fair_web-28

ten years


Ten years ago today.

You and me and hopes and dreams and hearts brimming with love.

Little did I know as I walked toward you on my father’s arm — blinking back tears and grinning like a fool — how amazing our life would be. I treasure every bit of it, even the valleys, because without fail, we climb out on the other side holding hands, stronger. Together.

This little world we’ve created. These little human beings we’re raising. All this love. How grateful I am.

I love you, sweet husband. Happy number ten.

educating the next deep-fried generation


Once upon a time, FIVE years ago, I was crowned Deep-Fried Ambassador of the North Carolina State Fair. Deputy Deep-Fried (also known as Alisa) and I set out for quite the air-brushed, meat-on-a-stick adventure.


I took my job very seriously.

And I still kind of haven’t let go (at all, really). I just love the fair, plain and simple. And I’m so lucky to have a real-life job that enables me access to 11 days of deep-fried bliss each year. (I’m not a carnie. Just for the record.)

It definitely wouldn’t be State Fair week if I didn’t sample some crazy new food with The Deputy. This year’s culinary conundrum? The Twinx.


Not sure what’s going on in this picture? Me neither. But I do know this: a Twinkie stuffed with a Twix bar, wrapped in bacon, battered and deep-fried actually is quite tasty.

Five years, two kids and numerous deep-fried delicacies later, The Deputy and I are still going strong. And as The Junior Deputy’s expression indicates, we clearly have our work cut out for us in training the next generation of fairgoers on the splendor of all things deep-fried.

Challenge accepted.


not bad for day one


Here she is. My North Carolina State Fair food bucket list. Because it’s important to keep track of these things. Oh State Fair, how I love thee …

biscuit from the Apex Lion’s Club
mini donuts
deep-fried bananas foster
Twinx (Twinkie stuffed with a Twix bar, wrapped in bacon and deep-fried. Challenge accepted.)
Al’s fries
McBride’s corn dog
Buffalo chicken rangoons from Woody’s
Ribbon-cut fried potatoes
Miss Debbie’s caramel (plus 16 other toppings) apple
a bite of Marc’s roasted corn
apple dumpling

What’s on your list? Do tell!
(Because nine more days of culinary possibilities await.)

summer rewind: the beach


Dear Summer,

It’s time to say goodbye.

I know I should be thinking about Halloween costumes and jack-o-lantern carving and all things pumpkin spice, but I still can’t shake my longing for you. It doesn’t help that you just won’t quit giving us 80-degree days. Every time I step out of the house in boots and jeans I have to turn right back around to dig my shorts out of the bottom drawer.

Marc and I took a quick trip to the coast last weekend to celebrate our 10 YEAR wedding anniversary, and we sat on the beach in our swimsuits sipping fancy fruity drinks in the sun. Marc even swam in the ocean! In October!

Oh Summer. You are so persistent.

Just about the only thing that could get me in the mood for fall is the North Carolina State Fair. Which starts in THREE DAYS. (One word: Twinx.)

So, I’m going to try to say goodbye with some phone pics from one of my favorite summer rituals of all: our family beach trip to Emerald Isle.

Thank you for long days at the pool, lightning bugs, hot dogs on the grill and a million moments of sun-kissed happiness.

I’ll see you bright and early on June 21. Can’t wait.
















>> other summer rewinds: the farm || the road trip <<

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