fall is here!

Something changed in the wind overnight. We woke up this morning and could feel the crispness in the air. Our original goal was to go hike Humpback Rock at sunrise, but who were we kidding? We hit that snooze button faster than you can say, “where’s my coffee?” Around 8 o’clock we stirred and got our butts out of bed.

For the those unfamiliar with the Central Virginia region, we’ve got a pretty incredible backdrop here. The Blue Ridge Mountains sit quietly until they take your breath away when you’re finally near. This little hike is only one mile, but it’s a straight shot uphill. Your heart rate goes up right from the beginning. This time we focused on appreciating the nature around us and breathing in the fresh air. Here are some snapshots from our morning.

Here’s one angle of our view from the top. Marvelous :)

places I love: New Jersey

Typically when I say “I love New Jersey” people assume I’m talking about the shore. While I have nothing against the Jersey Shore, I’m referring to the other side of the state. Just this past week I was able to spend some time around Frenchtown, where Chris’s family resides, where things are green, beautiful, and peaceful.

We spent a relaxing morning walking around Frenchtown, and I played around with my camera and snapped some photos. I love the little quirky stuff around the town, including the knitted wraps around trees, poles, benches, and ornaments. If you ever get a chance to stop by, please do – I promise you won’t regret it!

ps. I found this link about guerilla knitting. I’m telling you, this place is awesome!

an update on my life

As soon as my life gets a little bit hectic, my tiny little blog is the first thing to get ignored. I’m a terrible blogger, I’ve decided. But that won’t stop me from trying! Here’s what I’ve been up to..

1. I started two exciting new jobs! Overall, I’m working about 40-45hrs/week so my schedule is packed.

2. We’ve moved into a new house! Painting and decorating has been fun and the space is a lot bigger so it’s taking some getting used to. But the neighborhood is lovely and it’s still close to both our jobs.

3. I injured my wrist and am recovering from tendonitis (and it’s no fun). So my “training” has been a bit lackluster. But last night I was able to comfortable clean (see movement here) over 100lbs for the first time since I got hurt so progress is being made! [As a side, an old running injury reared its little head last week but it didn’t stick around too long]

Hopefully it won’t be another two months until I update again but until then, I’ll leave you with pictures of this year’s fireworks in Charlottesville!

feed a cold

It’s been a while since I have posted and for that, I apologize. Life has been a little crazy recently – I ended my position at a local restaurant and am now working for a local photographer in hopes of absorbing and learning everything & anything. Needless to say, I’ve been a little stressed.

Stressed to the point where my sleeping habits have been affected and my immune system couldn’t take it anymore. I usually get a solid 8 hours of sleep and have reduced that to less than 6 hours a night, and it finally snowballed on me. [Read about the importance of sleep here.] On Friday night, after working my last shift ever (on Graduation weekend no less) I left the restaurant with a huge headache. Saturday morning came and I felt like I had been hit with a truck. Everything hurt. Still does. I managed to make it to the Charlottesville City Farmer’s Market but crashed shortly thereafter and am still recovering.

In hopes of of lifting my spirits, I’ve been making delicious meals for myself. Nothing makes me feel better than a good yummy meal.

Yesterday, sweet & citric were my cravings so I tossed this beauty up. Spring greens, topped with cherry tomatoes, olives, slivered almonds, sliced oranges with a balsamic vinegar & EVOO dressing, with a side of curried grass-fed beef heart. Totally hit the spot! Sweet, salty, and nutritious!

In order to avoid infecting the public and steering clear of the Graduation crowds, I made brunch at home! A basil and green onion omelet with pasture-raised bacon on the side (duh, you can’t have brunch without bacon). And a side of frozen strawberries, coconut milk, and almonds as my dessert! The frozen berries tamed the fiery sensation from my sore throat.

Finally, dinner tonight — bunless grass-fed burger with roasted kale and an avocado & kimchi side. This was delectable. The burgers were seasoned with green onions, paprika, and curry and cooked in bacon grease (what ISN’T amazing cooked in bacon grease?). The kimchi was a gift from my favorite vendor at the market – Wolf Creek Farm!

I’m still not feeling 100% but I can rest easy knowing that at least I’m feeding myself properly!

Where I got my ingredients

pretty lights & pretty music – The Anatomy of Frank

I’ve gotten to know The Anatomy of Frank quite well. Chris has been a member since 2010 and they’ve become a part of the family. They rehearse in our apartment and I’ll occasionally bring them food from the restaurant (twenty-something year old guys will never say no to free food, I’ve found). Boys will be boys — they’ll make silly jokes and I’ll roll my eyes, but underneath it all they’re a good bunch to be around. I’m continuously impressed with their dedication to their craft and how their passion comes out in their music. The level of talent is incredibly high — these guys are going somewhere, for sure. Take a listen to their music, I promise you’ll be just as impressed.

There’s going to be a change in their line-up, which you can read about in this incredibly heartfelt post. It was a pleasure having a chance to photograph them this weekend at their show. They had a simple but effective set up of glow-sticks and lights which only added to their distinctive performance. Here are my favorites.

moments in the Blue Ridge

It’s been gorgeous in Central Virginia and today was just one of those days where you couldn’t not be in the sunlight . Chris and I decided to visit a spot in the Blue Ridge that we hadn’t been to in about two years and I’m glad we did. We sometimes forget the calming effect that being outdoors and breathing fresh air can have. Even the sensation of walking in cold water or climbing on rocks is relieving. Our society has managed to detach us from nature and it is our responsibility to reconnect. We can’t forget how innately human it is to walk outside, to get dirty, to play around.

my love affair

I must confess. I’ve been having an affair. With my iPhone.

Phew. There, I said it. My poor little DSLR must hate me. But it’s just too bulky for me to take everywhere! My iPhone is sleek and adaptable. It has allowed me to just capture moments and memories without having to fiddle with the ISO, shutter speed, or aperture.

Now, DSLR diehards, please don’t hate me too much — it has allowed me to take more pictures than I would otherwise, and that’s the key to improving your photography: just take more photographs! Here are some of my favorites.

Eataly, NYC. November 2011

Holiday Buddha. December 2011

Hungry for cake. December 2011

Georgia Dome. December 2011

Snowy Charlottesville, VA. February 2012

a girl’s best friend

I didn’t grow up with pets and my first “pets” were beetles (not kidding). I had fish when I was little but the poor things never lasted very long. It wasn’t until high school that my parents finally allowed me to get a cat (and now he’s replaced me in the family tree).

Animals don’t judge, they don’t criticize (although I beg to differ with the aforementioned cat), and all they’re concerned about is now. We could learn a lot from them.

I’ve spent a significant amount of time volunteering and working with animals through local SPCAs, animal hospitals, and the Wildlife Center of Virginia. They hold a very special place in my heart. My hope is that one day I’ll own some land and be surrounded by lots of four-legged friends.

My friend, Jenny, feels similarly about animals and has even started her own dog-training business! In effort to continue my quest of saving the world, I helped out by photographing her and her pretty boxer, Kyla. This is my favorite picture of the bunch!

 

Ps. Check out her business page, Diligent Dogs!

it’s a new year!

I hit the big TWO-FOUR last week so I’m officially a big girl. Here’s an update on what I’ve been up to!

  • Food – I really don’t like the word “diet” but the way I eat is mostly paleo. I’m avoiding dairy whenever possible because I’m lactose-intolerant and it gives me acne (and feeling like a 14 year old was bad enough the first time around), eat my heavy carbs post-workout, and indulge in wine, dark chocolate, and homemade treats. Whenever possible we will continue to eat seasonally and locally.
  • Fitness – Just ended a strength cycle at CrossFit Charlottesville and hit several big PRs. I followed my plan to only go to the gym three times a week and it worked brilliantly – I was never overtrained, unhappy at the gym, or restless. I’m going to continue that habit for the time being. CrossFit Total numbers listed below
      • Backsquat: 167lbs
      • Shoulder Press: 67lbs
      • Deadlift: 201lbs
      • Total: 435 (a 50lb PR from March 2011)
  • Photography – had my very first client this past December! I had an exceptional time with the family and it couldn’t have gone any better. The session made me want to jumpstart my photography so I’ve set up my photography website for all to see! Go to www.jennigabriela.com to view my work!

A shot from the family shoot! Tonks is the cutest dog!

local, seasonal, delicious

This past Saturday was the last Charlottesville City Farmers’ Market that I will attend for the year. From April until December, I did not miss a Saturday (aside from the time I was in Guatemala). I experienced an entire season of local, organic produce and meats. This is what I’ve learned in the last 8 months.

  • Fresh seasonal produce tastes amazing – no, this is not an exaggeration. Heirloom tomatoes? DIVINE. Blueberries in July? Sweet, tart, and crisp. Even the kale and greens are tastier!
  • The vendors at the market are some of the most genuine and inspiring people I’ve met. Their ability to get up at ungodly hours, suffer temperamental weather and still have a smile on their face is a testament of their passion. Making friends with and being about to shake the hands of the people who raised/grew our food is an incredible feeling.
  • No, it’s not cheap. But it is worth it. I don’t make a lot of money so I made the decision to stop mindlessly buying things and start investing in my health and well-being.
  • Planning is key. If I had my way, I’d buy everything from everyone at the market. And then it would all go bad in my fridge because I can only eat so much and I’d also be broke. To prevent said catastrophe, I’d set a list of what I’d like to get every Saturday and adjust it according to what was available. The list usually included eggs (duh), meats for protein (bacon was always on this list), some kind of greens, seasonal fruit (berries in the summer, pears and apples in the fall), and at least two kinds of vegetables.
  • Experimenting is fun! Whenever possible, I’d make myself buy something I’ve never cooked before. That’s how I discovered Patty Pan squashes, Russian kale, turnips, purple cauliflower, okra and so on.
  • Early bird gets the worm. Or the eggs. Whatever. Getting to the market early is the best way to ensure that you’ll find what you want. As the colder weather was approaching, farm eggs became more and more scarce and to ensure that I’d get my two dozen eggs, I’d be there right when the market started (7AM during the summer, 8AM during the fall). I regret nothing.

Winter officially starts tomorrow and my produce habits will have to adjust. Between a possible winter CSA and shopping at locally-owned grocery stores, we’ll get our food locally when possible. I can’t wait until next year!

A big THANKS to the folks at: Wolf Creek Farm, Whisper Hill Farm, Double H Farm, Sunset View Farm, Planet Earth Diversified, Babes in the Wood, and Shenandoah Joe’s (because I can only function at 7AM with the help of coffee).