Tuesday, October 22, 2013

summer highlights, part 1

Summer treize has been one doozy of a summer.
("Treize" being 13 in French. Not because we're snooty but because we needed something short, like summer twelve, and "summer thirteen" just wasn't working for me.)
It will probably live on in history as one of my favorite summers, even though that might be what I say about every summer until I'm too old to remember summers at all.

Last summer, the infamous "summer tweeeeeelve" which I've spoken of often was really great. And it was great because it was mostly just the two of us.
Dusty spent the summer taking classes for his MBA, so he studied on campus while I worked and we basically spent all our time together. It was a wonderful summer for our relationship, and I think we'll always remember it as a very precious time for us.
This summer, however, was great because of friends. We spent so much time with our friends! Some weeks it was every single day. It was actually really hard to start the semester again, because we were used to seeing them so often! Studying? What? Who needs it!

The official days of summer are June 21 to September 21, so here are many snapshots and memories from those precious three months.
The official highlight reel of our summer days.


I'm not sure there's a single word that better defines our summer than volleyball.
Maybe "games" in general (more on that later), but starting in May, we pretty much played volleyball every possible chance we had. 
We developed teams: Team Moriarty (me, Colin, and Jon) and Team Minion (Dusty, Victoria and Emilie). 
We had kind of binge-watched the BBC version of Sherlock, so Moriarty was the obvious choice for a killer team name. Minion was due to the release of Despicable Me 2, and because, well, the minions are the best part of that. And I think Dusty might be part minion.

Just for the official record and so that no one can ever claim it was never written, Team Moriarty were the victors extraordinaire.
We kept track of how many games each team won night to night, and we pretty much destroyed those minions. 

The bottom line is, this place became a kind of haven for us.
9 times out of 10 there was no one else there, since campus can sometimes seem like a ghost town in the summers (which is wonderful). 
The summer was an oddly cold summer, so with the exception of a few humid/hot days, we always had an amazing breeze and gorgeous sunsets. It was perfection.

We'd sometimes go out for snow cones afterwards, or out to eat, like to La Carreta for a much-needed salsa fix.
I think if I had to choose the one thing I miss the most from summer time is playing volleyball.
We actually played a week or two ago, but our toes were frozen in the sand and the courts were packed with undergrad. Which means screaming and very strange behavior.

One night, right at the beginning of the semester, we decided to go and play on the most crowded courts, and ended up playing against a group of undergrad guys. It was when the summer volleyball spell was broken, I think.
It was pretty much drizzling the entire evening, and we ended up playing like 20 games. That's a huge exaggeration, but it's what it felt like. I was in a horrible mood, because we hadn't eaten dinner and I was so ready to go. We were planning on all going out to eat afterward, and after each game we played I expected to go, but then we kept playing more games.
I was about to lose my cool. I hadn't ever lost my cool around this set of friends, so Dusty was trying really hard to keep my attitude light and happy, and to encourage me to go with the flow. Usually I go with the flow like nobody's business, but this was an especially trying circumstance.
It was raining, I was wet, I was wearing Dusty's hoodie over my head to keep the raindrops out of my eyes. One of the undergrad guys on the other team kept winking at me. At one point when we were across from each other, he stuck his hand through the net and wiggled his fingers, "Helloooo again!"
Our guys had taken their wedding rings off so they wouldn't fall off in the sand during the games, so they were just laughing about it.

Things were weird and I was hangry.
After one of the last games, Dusty turned to me and said, "One more? Is that okay?"
I had tried before to say I wanted to leave, that I was done like 3 games ago. So I gritted my teeth and smiled really, really big. "Perfect! Yes. Let's just play all night. Let's just play all the games."
It was the snarkiest of snark. I later apologized to our friends, saying I was mostly joking, and of course I wouldn't make them stop playing just because I was ready to go...but it has since become one of the most quoted incidences of our friendship. Whenever things are getting tense, "let's just play all the games!"
I kind of love it, because the cat's out of the bag: I'm a snarky son of a gun.
And even so, they're still our friends.

 Fourth of July

We were so American this year.
We wore red and blue, went to Starbucks, ate barbecue for lunch, made an all-American meal with homemade ice cream for dinner, watched the fireworks together, and then spent the weekend at an amusement park.

We celebrated the fourth by eating Dickey's for lunch, obvious choice, and then that night we headed home and whipped up a dinner of cheeseburgers with bacon and avocado (something we made many times over the summer), corn on the cob, chips, soda, and homemade mint oreo ice cream.
Later that night, we drove over near the baseball field where the fireworks show would be and found a parking spot in a side neighborhood to try and avoid horrible traffic and big crowds. We sat in our car, listening to country music with the windows down and the sunroof open (like I said, we were really American this year). It was a beautiful night, and we just sat, whispering, looking at the stars in the dark.
Once the fireworks started we got out and walked down the street to get a better view, and it was so fun just to stand there and watch them, almost alone. There were a few people standing in front of their houses (both awesome and probably really annoying to live there at this time of year), but for the most part we found the perfect little place to watch the show.

That week was extra special because the chancellor of the university decided to give all faculty and staff an extra paid day off for July 5th, since the 4th was a Thursday! Which meant we had an extra long weekend to enjoy.
So we decided to head to Richmond! There's something really special about taking a weekend away.
We pricelined an amazing hotel with this great view of downtown, and they even gave us each a soft chocolate chip cookie upon our arrival and check-in.
If that isn't good business, I dunno what is.

We walked around downtown, taking pictures and visiting some of the places I got to go when I went to Richmond for the color run last year. It was Dusty's first time, so I had fun showing him spots like The Urban Farmhouse.

That evening we went shopping, and did crazy things like eat dinner in a movie theater.
Alcohol was an item on the menu, and one lady took advantage of that big time, and had to be escorted out of our showing of The Heat. She had to be heavily helped by her husband(?) and the theater employee, but it was rather hysterical. As she was leaving, Sandra Bullock's character in the movie said something, like "No way!" and the lady turned to us and said, "No way!" in imitation. Very loudly. 

The next day we were stifled by the heat, but cared less than usual because we were at a theme park!
King's Dominion was so much fun. We had a blast riding rides, eating Panda Express for the first time in eons, playing arcade games and winning cheap little prizes, riding the high swings, riding the most horrific roller coaster of my life (I blacked out a little, swore off roller coasters for life...Dusty rode it twice), and eating dippin' dots!

That night, after we showered and changed, we went to this amazing restaurant on the water called The Boathouse. It has a gorgeous view of the Richmond skyline at night, and is just a really cool structure all around. We experienced our first whole lobster for dinner. Can't say I'm a huge fan, because he kept staring at me and I felt very guilty for his death.
But the heath bar pizookie and french press coffee afterward helped ease my conscience.


Every season has its flavors, but this summer was especially tasty!

Maybe it was because of all the summer friend-time, which often includes sharing meals together, but I think there are several places/occasions/foods that will always bring me back to summer treize.

Grilling: Since it was such a weird/cold summer, and it rained a lot, we didn't get to do as much grilling as we would have liked. But, I mentioned earlier that we did manage to make a lot of hamburgers, (and if I'm being honest, we actually grilled in the rain once. Desperate times call for desperate measures). For a few weeks we were addicted to cheeseburgers with bacon and avocado.
Then something amazing happened, and I discovered this masterpiece of grilling cuisine: fresh grilled bacon-wrapped peach, with a dollop of bleu cheese. Holy momma. 
I don't care what your initial reaction is to that description, because the reality is a warm, juicy, salty sweet concoction that will have you begging for mercy.

Bread & Wine: I always love book club, but this summer we decided to take a month and read Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist, which is a rather personal blog/diary kind of book while also being a book of recipes. We got together and shared our thoughts, and cooked different recipes from the book. It was amazing. My favorites were definitely the bacon-wrapped, goat cheese stuffed dates. Yum. 

Downtown: This entry has several parts to it. The farmer's market, Market at Main, and White Hart/lavender lattes. I love downtown, and could probably spend every single weekend there.
The farmer's market has always been one of my favorite things downtown, and I try to go every Saturday, if we're in town. This summer we added buying local eggs and local honey to our list, and we've been loving it. It's probably just in my imagination that local honey is the answer to all my problems, but we have it every morning in our tea and when we ran out Dusty sighed, "Well do we have any nasty store bought stuff left?"
Call us hippy, cause it happened.

Speaking of favorite things downtown, White Hart opened back up. Yes. It happened.
But before even that happened, I discovered that the previous owners of White Hart had a little coffee shop in the lobby of a downtown bank, and found my lavender latte was alive and well. It was a beautiful discovery, and was made even more exciting by the news that White Hart itself would reopen at the end of the summer!

Sad update: White Hart is open but is no longer my favorite place.
They have removed my window seats, and most of what made White Hart the love of my life.
I've been a few times since it reopened, to get the lavender latte, but part of me feels the tragedy of losing it all over again.
I even tried reaching out to the new owner to ask about the changes, and to see if they planned on bringing back more decorations and more specifically, comfier chairs. The entire shop has been filled with flimsy wooden chairs, and there's not a couch, cushion or comfy chair in sight. 
His response was short and to the point: sorry to disappoint you, but no, we will not be bringing those back. They're too expensive to upkeep.
So, I mourn.

But to say the tragedy is heavy on my soul would be a lie. Probably because when it originally closed I was really sad, but eventually made my peace with it. We have happily found other places to rejuvenate us, and even though I will always fondly remember the glory days of White Hart, I am happy to find love elsewhere!
One of the spots downtown that we discovered in the middle of summer is called Market at Main.
I had heard about it several times, including during restaurant week last summer, but we never got around to trying it. 
The first time I went was for book club, because White Hart had closed down and we were trying different places to meet. It's this big open restaurant, kind of with a general store feel and a big open kitchen with a long bar. Rumor has it it was a pharmacy before it was a restaurant, and several other things before that. It's a pretty cool place. I had their sweet potato pancakes, and knew it was gonna be a new favorite.
A few weeks later Dusty and I went right after the farmer's market for a little breakfast date. We sat at the bar, and shared pancakes, and decided it was a keeper.

Little did we know it would become one of the biggest staples of our summer! And of our last year of law school in general. We started going nearly every Saturday morning for brunch with our friends Colin and Victoria. It became one of the things I looked most forward to at the end of each week.
When they got a red convertible, we obviously rode downtown in it, roof down and hair flying.
We went with them when my mom was in town, and even got to meet Victoria's parents there for dinner one night. 
Saturdays and brunch double dates wasn't something we planned; it just happened. Which is why it's the best.

Delicia's: Along the same lines of Market at Main, Delicia's became the summer lovin' spot for quick, close-by comfort food. We got tired of trying to find good Mexican food around here, and always being disappointed by the lack of Arizona quality. We're Mexican food snobs, to put it bluntly. 
Delicia's is Latin American food, and is close enough to totally hit the spot, but different enough to where we're not constantly comparing it to anything else. It's really close to our house, too, and Colin and Victoria just live a few minutes away from us. It became a common spot for us to meet up for dinner, and once the weather started to cool down, it became the perfect place to eat dinner out on the patio. 

Wasabi: Though definitely not a summer-only place, since we discovered this great sushi joint earlier this year, it became a summer place when they started offering 1/2 off sushi on Wednesdays! We were so excited. Every time Wednesday rolls around, we have to fight the persistent urge to head over for delicious avocado rolls with our friends.
We usually lose.

Afternoon Dates: I think these started one crazy day when Dusty and I ended up (completely by accident, I'm sure) going to Starbucks and Sonic because we were both in need of an afternoon pick-me-up.
This developed into a ritual of afternoon summer dates, where Dusty would swing by and pick me up and we'd each pick a treat for the day. We will still occasionally do this, on especially hard/tiring days. My treat is usually Starbucks, but it varies. I know by now you must be thinking that we are total gluttons. And you're partially right, except that both of us have actually been losing weight over the past few months... I think life has to be about a balance of sweet treats, little dates, nights out with friends and iron willpower the rest of the time. I think if I was "good" all the time, I wouldn't be nearly as happy as I am now, sharing moments and memories around the table (or in the car) with people I love to be around.
(Which brings me back to Bread & Wine. You should totally read it.)

Another summer thing: valencia orange iced coffee.
Kinda strange, but I can dig it.

Restaurant Week: Gotta love a week dedicated to trying new restaurants at great prices! Even though we only went once or twice this summer, it was still a really fun experience. My favorite was going to The Dahlia with (guess who?) Colin and Victoria, and then driving around the area to admire all of the old money mansions and beautiful properties around there. It was a great night!

Butterbeer: Dusty made the most amazing discovery this summer. He was traveling to Roanoke every day, and at one point he and his carpool stopped by this chocolate shop to get a few things. That's when he saw something magical on the shelf: Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer. It's actually just butterscotch cream soda, but the label said it all. This was butterbeer, as in, Harry Potter!
He told me he bought me something, and when he surprised me at work with a bottle of it (and told me later he had a four-pack of the stuff), it was love at first sight, and then utter devotion at first taste. 

On July 31st, in honor of Harry Potter's birthday, we drank chilled butterbeer and watched Sorcerer's Stone. Since then we've also had butterbeer floats, and are very happy indeed.

Fresh Market: This is a late-summer development, but Fresh Market opened up the second week of September and has enchanted us all. Pumpkin spice coffee, gourmet cheeses, the smell of riches and fanciness. I get a little lost in there, even though it's a pretty small specialty store.
We've already had two picnic-style dinners with our friends, consisting of whole roasted chickens (which Victoria carves like a pro), a variety of cheeses, grape tomatoes, chips and salsa, and the like.
Oh and don't forget about my new life passion, the rose lemonade. Call me crazy, but it's what the Lord intended for womankind to drink. (But boys can have some, too).

On opening weekend Dusty and I went and had a sample date, and walked around the store for hours, eating treats and dreaming of our future life as the kinds of people who only buy specialty coffees and crab cakes.

Isabella's: This is our favorite Italian place here in town, and it's always our choice spot for celebration of school-related accomplishments. Dusty especially loves it, so it's always his choice. We went at the end of last semester to celebrate finishing finals, and we went again in August to commence the beginning of 3L year!
Their bruschetta is to die for, and we always split their sausage orecchiette pasta. It's the bomb diggity. 

I think this post has reached its limit of photos and ramblings, so stay tuned for part 2!
One of these days I'll be glad I rambled, so I can think back and remember these favorite details. 
But for you readers, just bear with me as I talk on and on about things you might not care about quite as much as I do. :)

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