Friday, July 12, 2013

Eight Signs that I'm Back in the South

Since moving back to South Carolina from Maine last week, I've noticed a lot of differences. These things have been common occurrences my whole life, but I haven't really noticed them until they were gone. Boy, am I glad to be back in the South!

1. I have to change shirts after returning from my walk to the mailbox. 

2a. A local car dealership commercial says, "Come on down after Sunday service."
2b. The weatherman said that the rain would be gone by the end of most church services. 

3. I can't get out of Wal-Mart without seven people talking to me, and I don't even know any of them.

4. The waitress at a restaurant specifically asks if I want a sweet tea. Uh, yes please.

5. It's a total waste of time to straighten my hair (or do anything with it but wear it in a bun).

6. The thought of wearing jeans makes me sweat.

7. I can eat at Cracker Barrel or Chick-Fil-A anytime I want (except for Sundays of course).

8. AND my sister can actually drive down for a visit!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Life Lately

Life's been coming at me pretty fast lately.

Memorial Weekend: We had an incredible time exploring Maine with some great friends. 
+ Ben and Sarah - not pictured :(

Beautiful Camden

To anyone that knows Andy: Doesn't this picture just put a big smile on your face?

A week later: I flew to Nashville for one of my dearest, bestest friend's wedding. I never thought I would say this, but it was so nice to be back in the southern, humid, sultry heat. It definitely helped that I got to spend time with some of my best friends and help Kayla put the finishing touches on a beautiful wedding.

Wasn't she just gorgeous?

I'm so excited that I'll get to see my sweet friend in Chatt. soon!

A few days after that: I found out that I'll be teaching 9th grade English at the school I student taught at in the fall!!! This makes me even more excited to move back knowing that I get to work along side of the teachers I learned so much from last semester.

THEN a couple days later: Patrick and I celebrated our first anniversary, and my mother and father-in-law flew in for a long weekend. We had such an amazing time roaming and hiking around Acadia, driving up the coast, and taking a long bike ride around the national park. It was an amazing Maine experience for us all. Plus, an Acadia hike was a prefect anniversary trip to celebrate an awesome year with my love!

I'm truly blessed to have these two as my in-laws!

At the first place to see the sun in the U.S. We weren't quite up for getting to the top of this mountain at 4 a.m. to experience the sunset, but he view was definitely just as impressive at 4 p.m..

Currently: I'm finishing up my last week of work, preparing for the movers, and packing for a trip to Vermont this weekend. Oh! And since it's a given that I'll be teaching Romeo and Juliet, I started reading it for THE FIRST TIME EVER. Yeah, I know every high school freshman is suppose to read it, but my teacher decided to spend the entire semester  reading The Odyssey instead. (Good job preparing the young minds of the future!) I think it's definitely works out in my favor though because I appreciate the text and comprehend it much better than I ever would as a 14-year-old.

Our time here in Bangor is quickly coming to a close and as I think back on our experience I'm filled with a sense of relief that we survived such a rough winter, joy that I found a fun, rewarding job, a bit of sadness that we're leaving at the most beautiful time of year, and a ton of incredible memories that I'll be able to share with future Hortons many years from now. South Carolina: here we come! (Hopefully to stay.) :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Year One

We've made it. The exciting, exhilarating, yet frustrating adjustment of the first year of marriage is over. And adjustment is exactly what it has been.

It only feels likes a few weeks ago when I was putting on the final touches for the big day. I had never been more excited, anxious, and happy in my life. The hours I put into making decorations, printing invitations, and organizing the details had me worried the it would all come together in a non-tacky, storybook kind of way. My amazing friends and family worked so very hard to set everything up the day of, and when I pulled up to the gardens, I was elated. It was better than I had ever imagined. It was undoubtedly my dream wedding (husband included).

I could go on and on how perfect and beautiful of a day it was, but I will spare you of an obnoxious rant and share pictures instead because who wants to read a long, boring post when they can look at pictures, right? I'll just say that it was a wonderful kick-off to what has been one of the most life-changing, rewarding years of my life. From a move from TN to SC, then SC to ME, and soon to move from ME back to SC all in the first year of marriage has not been easy, but it's been an incredible journey so far. It's made us completely rely on each other for all of our needs, which has taught us far more about ourselves and one another than we ever could have learned otherwise. We've realized that marriage takes daily work. Whoever said you could live on love must have had a short marriage. Though the whole idea of a 'lovey dovie,' 'I get butterflies every time you walk in' kind of marriage is nice to daydream about when you're dating, it just isn't real life. There are days when I'm so frustrated that I just have to find some coupons to cut before I go off, and that's where love comes in. I'm exceptionally blessed to be living this awesome life God has given me with such a wonderful, funny, loving, crazy smart, easy-going man.

(Jessie Holloway truly is the best!)



Here's to many more...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Living Off the Land

It's been a rainy one. All week has been soggy, cloudy, and chilly. (Is it just me, or is soggy is a gross word?) And since the flowers and trees are just now blooming up here, that means allergies are finally catching up to me. I knew they were lurking around the corner, just waiting to attack. So, after their long awaited appearance, they've hit me on the rainiest week yet (which makes me feel even ickier). Yet, I'm not complaining. It's really been a great week with a long, exciting weekend vastly approaching.

So here's my tale for now:

A couple weekends ago, Patrick was asked to go fly fishing. I consider my husband as an outdoorsy guy, but not the fishing and hunting outdoorsy type. He's more of the hiking, camping, nature-lover kind of outdoorsy-man. Needless to say, he knows next to nothing about fishing, but being the adventurous sport that he is, he gladly accepted the invitation. He traveled about two hours north of here (which is straight-up wilderness) and jumped in a canoe on a cold, rainy Saturday to fly fish his little heart out.

And he didn't do so bad. He caught five brook trout (the biggest one jumped back in the he says), which I would consider a success for his first fly fishing trip.

Don't you think the shirt is fitting? We wore our seat belts to a hockey game and got these XXL t-shirts. It goes nicely with our collection.

His friend was nice enough to gut the fish before he brought them home, but it was still a gross job on my end. After a short Google search, I figured out how to cook fresh fish (I only buy the cheap frozen kind when it's on sale).

I mixed up a little flour batter, buttered the pan, and fried it right up. Besides painstakingly picking out the spine and pin bones, I've come to conclude that fresh is definitely better than frozen.

Not only did I learn how to batter up a fresh brook trout, I learned that if we ever get lost in the cold, moose-filled wilderness of Maine, thanks to my huntsman of a husband, the Horton's could certainly live off the land.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Happiness

I've been thinking. Thinking about things that make me happy. Thinking about things that help me relax. Thinking about things that fill me up (foods and non-foods included). So, I've compiled a list. Kind of. The list is scattered in my mind at the moment. Some things may come up as I write. Thoughts scattered. List in no particular order. Sentence fragments allowed...just this once.

1. Newest addiction.

Cinnamon Life has been my go-to cereal for some time now, but when I saw the big box of Life Maple & Brown Sugar on sale at Wal-Mart I had to give it a try. Boy-oh-boy, pancakes in cereal form. Sound good? Well, it is. I'm constantly grabbing at handful and just eating it dry. I can't get enough of this stuff; therefore, it makes me oh-so-very happy.

2. The smell of rain on a warm day. I could just lay on the asphalt and sniff it for hours after a spring shower. I haven't personally done this yet, but if I could find a road where I know no one would see me or run over me, I would be all over this.

3. Snuggling on the couch with hubs and Walter after an exhausting day at work...or just anytime.

I love these guys.

4. Going to the new laundromat.

The laundromat I've been going to moved to a new location, and it was such a pleasurable experience...well, as pleasurable as a laundromat can be. It's super close to the apartment. It smells fresh and new. The machines are bigger and better, which means it takes fewer quarters to clean and dry. I felt safe the entire time. They have complimentary coffee and T.V.s.
You have no idea how happy my trip to the laundromat made me today. It's the small things, y'all.

5. Finding great deals.

I went to Goodwill yesterday and bought a few outfits and a large bulletin board that's in great shape all for the price of one pair of jeans or a meal for two at Olive Garden or a movie date including popcorn. It's good deal, folks. I'm planning on re-vamping the board, so check back later for the before and after. (Give me a few weeks. I tend to procrastinate.)

6. The fact that we just found a place in Greenville for when we move back in July!

We are enjoying our time in Maine, but we're anxiously counting down the days until we get back down south. We miss our family, friends, Chick-Fil-A, sweet tea, and the southern way of life. I never thought much of this laid-back, slow-paced, friendly, southern drawl way of life until I moved away. Then I realized it's the only life for me. Patrick and I love Greenville, and we're extremely excited to settle down there for a while.

View from a hike near Greenville.

7. Skyping with my sister.

She's my greatest friend, and talking to her makes me feel at home.

8. And what fills me up the most tonight is thinking about my awesome mom. I wish I could zap myself home to spend Mother's Day with her and the rest of my family tomorrow, but it doesn't look like that's going to be a possibility this year. She's such a kind-hearted, incredibly funny woman. Y'all should meet her sometime. :)

I love you Mom!
Okay, I guess that should do it for now. But come to think of it, compiling a list of what makes me happy makes me happy, so consider the closing number nine.

Until next time.



A Special Visitor

First of all, I want to apologize for my hiatus. With Grandad being in town and the beautiful weather we've been having, it's hard to sit inside for too long. The long, cold, snowy winter has made me appreciate sunshine, flowers, and warm afternoons more than ever. Maine was beautiful when it was covered in snow, but the vivid blooms and bright green grass beats the snow on any day.


Last weekend trumped all the beautiful days by far. It was partly to due to our company. Grandad flew up from TN all by himself. That's quite a trek for a 80-something year old, but he's no typical 80-something year old. He's the most active, hippest, fun granddad around.

I'm pretty sure the snow never truly goes away in Maine.

The majority of the weekend was spent in Bar Harbor and Acadia. The summer season is just beginning in Maine, which means stores and restaurants are actually opening and crowds of people are filling the streets and highways.

We acted like typical tourists by stopping at all of the souvenir shops, taking tours, and photographing everything in sight. For all of my TN friends wanting to know what Bar Harbor is like, Patrick described it perfectly. Picture a nautical Gatlinburg. Though I love a good trip to Dollywood and occasionally walking the Gatlinburg strip, it doesn't hold a candle to the views you get at Bar Harbor.

Lobster ice cream anyone? Yes, they put real, buttered lobster in vanilla ice cream. I know everyone says that you have to eat lobster when you go to Maine, but I don't think this is the way to do it.

Anyways, back to the views.

One of my favorite stops in Acadia is Jordan Pond. It is a massive pond in the middle of the island, and is one of the most serene, tranquil stops in all of Maine.

Maine is also known for its lighthouses. Unfortunately, most of them are not visible by land, and the lighthouse cruise doesn't start until the end of the month. But as luck would have it, a cruise ship was docking in Bar Harbor on Sunday, so the tour company decided to have a special lighthouse cruise just for the ship (and us). Besides getting sea sick halfway through the 3-hour tour, and it being 50 degrees and windy out on the ocean, it was one of the most remarkable sights I've ever seen.

One of the neatest parts of the day was seeing two bald eagles. To see them in their natural habitat trumps Dollywood's eagle exhibit any day.

Once we were coasting back to shore and my head stopped spinning, we spotted this lobster boat. For those of you who don't know, my first name is Stephanie, and though I have an "a" at the end of my name, this was pretty darn close.

Though all of the adventures and sight-seeing was incredibly fun, I would have to say our favorite part was just drinking coffee and talking about life with Grandad. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Week with a Stay-At-Home Husband

I just want to start by gloating about the weather that I've gotten to enjoy this week. And after the winter I've endured, I have every right to gloat. It's been in the sixties and sunny for the past 4-5 days, and this week's forecast isn't predicting anything but warmer and sunnier skies. That, my friends, makes me one happy girl.

Now onto the main topic.

A couple weeks ago, Patrick was off for a shut down week. It was a long overdue break for him, but it didn't slow him down one bit. He wanted to cook supper the first two days, which is a HUGE deal. He's always been interested in the whole cooking process and even watches a couple cooking shows with me, but he's never attempted to make even a side dish. So when he agreed to make dinner, I did not oppose.

After working all day on Monday, I came home to a fresh fruit salad and chicken thawing for dinner. I was totally impressed. Hubs had gone to the store, bought all the fruit and ingredients for dinner, and prepared the salad before I even got home. Plus, he took a picture of the ingredients for my blog (Sorry, we didn't get an after shot.). I could really get used to this.

This fruit salad was unlike any other I've had before because it had the nuttiness and chocolate crunch of the trail mix. I ate it for every meal until it was no more. So, for the first time in married-life history, I'm sharing a recipe created by my husband.

This is the perfect dish for the hot, humid summer days ahead. Light, refreshing, and a touch of chocolate. Yes, please.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Boston Experience

Patrick and I were both anxious to go to Boston. We were in dire need of a getaway, and since Boston is only a few hours from where we're living, it set itself up nicely to be the perfect trip.

Then tragedy hit.

We knew the heartbreaking, horrific event last Monday would affect our trip, but we could never foresee what was going to take place once we actually arrived.

As we pulled into our charming bed & breakfast on Thursday, we quickly parked our car and starting walking to our first planned stop without even checking in.

Patrick, being an engineer, wanted to check out MIT, so we leisurely strolled through the campus before getting on the train to Cambridge for a tour of Harvard. We were in awe of the beautiful spring day and the historic buildings that lined the streets. Once we decided that we had seen enough of MIT, we searched for the nearest transit. Being that we just arrived, we had no idea where to look, so we found an MIT police parked on campus to ask. In his deepest Boston accent, he promptly explained exactly where we needed to go.

We found our way to the infamous gate leading into Harvard's campus and immediately caught up with a student-led tour, which was led by a very well-spoken, knowledgeable, humorous young man. I would expect nothing less by a Harvard student. This is a must do if you ever plan a Boston trip.

After our brains were full of Harvard knowledge, we enjoyed a picnic in Harvard yard.

We carried on with our afternoon by strolling through the streets of Cambridge before heading back to our room to get ready for a date in the North End, which is most readily known as "Little Italy." We dined at an amazing Italian restaurant, which was a real treat because I typically only recommend restaurants that I have coupons for. Then we grabbed a couple cannolis at Mike's Pastry before we called it a successful first day.

 Being the early risers that we are, we woke up before 7 and promptly turned on the news. Every channel had breaking news coverage of the two bombers: "One dead, the other on the loose." Anything that is said to be "on the loose" doesn't settle well with anyone, even if it's only a wild monkey. But a teenage mass murderer on the loose in the city that you're currently in is quite eerie.

My first thought, "The police and F.B.I are far too smart to not capture this guy in the next hour or so."


And second, "We just talked to an MIT policeman yesterday!"(Thankfully, it wasn't the same man, though our prayers go out the victim's family.)

An hour went by and the mayor came on the news and shut down the entire city. This was serious. Still I thought it would only last a couple hours. We had a Red Sox game to go to that night, so they needed to catch him before game time. (At least that was our selfish thoughts at the time.) Patrick and I tried to make the most of the morning by chatting with the other residents and sitting out on the porch swing, but the frustration of staying put on a sunny 70 degree day with a list of activities to check off was getting the best of me.

My moodiness only got worse as the hours were ticking by. Yes, people, I get moody. It's unbearable at times. That's why God blessed me with such a patient man. I just felt like our entire trip with all of our Living Social coupons, history tours, and a Red Sox game, which was canceled, had been ruined all because of a stupid 19-year-old boy.

The B&B kindly prepared a meal for all us since every restaurant and store within a thirty mile radius was closed. As soon as we returned to our room we noticed a riveting scene on the news. They found the guy, but was trying to take him alive. It was like watching a suspenseful movie, but no clear end was in sight. We wanted to go downtown since the holds were released by the mayor, but it was hard to pry away from such an exciting scene knowing that it was taking place less than 10 miles away. There was no telling how long this capture would take, so we went to the oddly vacant downtown streets for a little while only to return to exciting news, "The police captured the hostage alive!"

We originally planned to head back to Maine the following afternoon, but Patrick refused to let this trip go to waste. He talked to the inn keeper, and luckily they had a few cancellations, so we decided to stay an extra night. We got to go on our Duck Boat tour Saturday morning and found a pair of tickets to the Red Sox game that afternoon. If we were ever going to go to a Sox game, Saturday's game was the one to go to.

They honored the police who had just captured the bomber, Tito Ortiz gave a shocking, yet chilling speech, and Neal Diamond even came out after the 7th inning to sing "Sweet Caroline."

It was also nice the Ortiz hit a home run in the 8th to lead the Sox to a win over the Royals.

That night we went to Boylston Street where people had started a memorial for the bombing victims. To witness a crowd of people fixated on a wall of posters, flags, flowers, and hand-written prayers and notes was chilling. To think of what had just occurred right down the street and how the people of Boston were coming together to support one other was a moment I hope to never forget.

To conclude our trip, the next morning we completed the Freedom Trail (a 2.5 mile route that takes you through all of the historical sites) and made our way back north.

Patrick and I thought we had planned the perfect Boston vacation. Though it may seem like the tragic events ruined our once "perfect" plans, they only made them that much more memorable and meaningful than they ever would have been otherwise. I'm proud that I got to witness a strong city become even stronger, and the goodness pouring out of our God and the nation that He protects and loves.

(More pictures will be/have been posted on my Facebook)

- Diana