our snow day

We don't see snow but maybe once a year in our little southern city, so when the snowflakes begin to pile on top of one another, everyone pretty much drops what they're doing. & for once! my drive home from work in the snow didn't mean sitting in snow-induced traffic for 3 hours because for once! I live 8 minutes from my work! & so... Chelsea & I shared a little snow-to shoot (see what I did there?) while we waited for Jared to rescue us with snow snacks.

We met THREE golden retrievers on our traipse through the snow, which has launched my puppy fever into DEFCON 1.There's just something especially jovial about golden retrievers frolicking in the snow. If I hadn't know that before from years of golden retriever ownership, 14 month old Izzy certainly would have shown me.

I miss snow in the winter.We would love to live somewhere again that actually experiences a snow-filled winter, even if it's just for a few years of white Christmases & re-learning how to snowboard. But I do love the awe that the citizens of Norfolk have for the snow - The pause as the city stops & inhales real cold weather. It's pleasant. It's a little bit magical. Even the dogs know it.


flowers & bathrooms

[This may be my most favorite iPhone photo in all of ever.]

Three nights ago, J brought me home some just-because-flowers... Which we girls all know are the BEST kind of flowers, followed closely by sent-to-your-work-flowers & picking-you-up-at-the-airport-flowers. He has always been great about giving bouquets, & it helps that he has impeccable taste + a green thumb... Unlike his doting wife.

He also has impeccable timing. He didn't know how much we'd need these little rays of sunshine three nights ago, but when I crawled out of bed at 9:30 a.m. & it was the 4th time I'd been out of bed since 4:30 a.m., they were there with their smiling faces shining up at me like there's nothing wrong in the world. 

I know, I know. Just wait till you have kids! But we don't have kids. We have flowers. & apparently the flu. 


on eating like an adult

One of the things that can get Jared laughing the hardest is Baby Kelsey Storytime. These are the tales of Kelsey Bethune (formerly Kelsey Essmann) between the ages of 3-8, when I was a spazzy tomboy who had my parents wondering what-da-world-had-they-created as I rehearsed my spot-on impression of Lina Lamont, orchestrated bedtime pranks & decided that doing flips off our backyard swingset was something I could turn into a profession.

This very same (awesome) child was a picky little child. Don't judge too hard - I was a healthy eater, but just particular about what "healthy" items it was that I was eating. Everything from peanut butter to chicken noodle soup to pasta with tomato sauce was traumatic for me. Many an evening were spent sitting at the kitchen table long after the rest of the family had cleared out, staring at carrots, or meatloaf, or some other torturous food. My parents were somehow just & patient about it, all at the same time. My dad would tell me that eventually I'd grow up & like these foods - Squash, salmon, water chesnuts. With an exhaustive eye roll, I'd go back to the stare down I was having with my chicken pot pie, because Dad be cray, obvi.

This past week, I was making a really simple dinner before Jared went to class - Garden salad & TJ's goat cheese ravioli. Basic tasks: boil water, don't cut yourself while chopping veggies. (I've been put on a very short list of allowed kitchen tasks after the immersion blender episode.) As I CAREFULLY sliced my green pepper & tomatoes, I reflected on the wonder it was that I, Kelsey, was making a salad. On purpose. By choice. To EAT. I almost called my mother so she could rejoice that her work here is done.

To be clear, this isn't the first time I've made myself a salad for a meal. But it's been a process. As a child, lettuce was EW, GROSS. Salad was honestly a bad word to me. My senior year of high school, the cafeteria food went way downhill, & my lunch every day was a lettuce-less salad, comprised of ranch dressing, croutons, onions, tomato, sunflower seeds & cheddar cheese. Then I worked at Panera for four years, & after the paninis started to get old, I started eating the salads. The high calorie, loaded with cheese & dressing salads. Over the more recent years, my relationship with salad has been mostly  reduced to caesar salad, heavy on the caesar, with lettuce acting as an excuse to eat parmesan & croutons. Not really the veggie-filled, well-rounded bowl of nutrition that a salad is supposed to be - The fact that (within the last year) a garden salad with a vinegar/oil dressing has become my preference is huge.

In a lot of ways, Dad was cray. I still don't like pot pie *GASP* & I remain thoroughly convinced that carrots are developed by orcs in the fires of Mordor. I've recently tried salmon that Jared made for dinner & I'm just not a fan. (Although, am a huge fan of the chef...)

But he was mostly right, that father of mine. & with every year that passes, my children have a higher chance of receiving a well-balanced diet. Food is something that I'm only just beginning to love, & I think a lot of the reasoning for that is years spent as a dancer & soccer player, in which food was treated as a necessary evil that gives you just enough energy to get through rehearsal/practice. OR WORSE - you just didn't eat till after practice at 11:30 p.m., & then it was Taco Bell crunchwraps for daaaaays. It's like good food & I have known each other for years & are just now starting to realize that we may potentially like each other.

Jared loves food. Jared loves good food, & he knows more about healthy & good eating than anyone else I know. He's teaching me to drink beet-based juices, how to make kale chips, what foods to buy organic 100% of the time, how good fermenting can be, the powers kombucha & which fruits & veggies to eat when I feel a cold coming on. & in return, he gets ridiculous stories about Baby Kelsey for days upon days. I'm not kidding, people... Match. Made. In. Heaven.

My parents had their work cut out for them with my... sensitive palate? as a kid. But they have handed off the torch to a good, informed, hot teacher, who is successfully showing me how to eat like an adult. & there's lots of good news: I no longer consider Twizzlers to be an adequate meal. Our children have a 200% chance of inheriting their father's appreciation for every vegetable on earth. We both agree that water chesnuts have no place on our dinner table, & that the occasional crunchwrap is just fine.

So vegetables! Hurray! No vegetarian/vegan inclinations over here, though... Mostly because I love cheese to the point of having some feta buried with me. Glad that's in writing now. My work here is done.


a krispy kreme date with miss chelsea

Because sometimes you have to drive 45 minutes away to drop off a camera lens for fixin', & then you're like fixin'... hmm... fix... HMM... DONUT FIX, & then a Krispy Kreme magically appears, & then you meet an old man named TJ who's obsessed with karaoke, drives a red mustang & hangs out at Krispy Kreme on the daily & he calls you out on taking way too many pictures of your donuts & you totally agree & spend the rest of your visit discussing the best karaoke songs.

& & & I love Chelsea. & donuts. & karaoke.



 shirt: j. crew (christmas prezzie - thanks, mama!) | necklace: nordstrom | pants: h&m | loafers: old navy

We FAIL with all caps on the Sunday Best front these days. As if it were a thing of years gone by. Jared's just been workin' an awful lot of Sunday mornings, & I lose 1. motivation & 2. my photographer. But sweet Chelsea always has her camera at her side & took some Friday Best (ehhh, not a thiiiing...) pictures during our donut date this past weekend.

We pretty much spent the whole time trying to hide my finger bandage. Which I'm proud to say has dwindled down to a couple of band-aids after a really miserable visit to the hand specialist doctor who I'm not proud to say practically ripped the stitches out of my poor finger. Didn't even offer to buy me a drink, just made some small talk then dove right in. IT WAS AWFUL & I deserved every bite of that donut.

I'm gonna think on this style post stuff & get back to you when my better half is around to distract you with his fabulous hair & general swagger. (*salute* General Swagger.)

I leave you with this: STOP WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY RIGHT NOW. We've cheated & already watched all of Season 3, finishing with the Christmas Special last night & I'm heartbroken when I say, OMG. IT'S TERRIBLE. Just save yourself & just say NO to Downton today. I don't know how it can redeem itself.

Other than that, this week should be great! ;)


some things about january

 from our Christmas stay at the beach.

IN JANUARY, I've rendered myself one handed due to the great finger massacre of 2013, & am therefore avoiding things like pushing, lifting, squeezing, pressing, swinging, bending, etc. when it comes to my poor right arm. Unavoidable one-handed activities include (but are not limited to): putting toothpaste on a toothbrush, taking a bra off, pulling boots on, wriggling into skinny jeans (OMG THE WORST), typing, turning the key in the car's ignition, hair brushing, armpit shaving, dish washing... I could go on forever. So, I get it. I use my right arm a lot. LESSON LEARNED, 10-4, LOUD & CLEAR.

IN JANUARY, I visited our new Whole Foods for the first time & nearly bought 6 different kinds of beans just because they looked so pretty in their display. Then spent 15 minutes in the CHOCOLATE AISLE (as in, an aisle of chocolate) & learned that 55% chocolate with cherries & almonds is like the nectar of the gods. & can even be eaten with one hand. 

IN JANUARY, Jared has woken up before 5:00 a.m. for work approximately 13 times more than I have in my whole life. I keep warning him that he better not become a morning person, because morning people are evil, chirpy people that shouldn't be married to night people. Unless they want things frequently thrown at their heads. But really, he's working so hard, & I so greatly appreciate him. Even at the cost of painfully mumbling "Iluhhhyoutuhhh..." at 4:15 a.m. when he kisses me goodbye.

IN JANUARY, Miss Chelsea Diane went from photographer legend, to next door neighbor, to dear friend. We've been getting to know each other over lattes, photography adventures in the woods & a couple glasses of sparkling red wine. She is a sweet one. & she taught me to knit. Level 9 of becoming an old lady complete!

IN JANUARY, I've managed to contract the redecorating-the-family-room-&-maybe-the-kitchen? bug that's been going around (No? Just me?), so I'm just waiting to win the lottery. Or maybe I'll pick up potato stenciling art. That's probably pretty cheap.

& that's just the first half of the month.


kelsey vs. the immersion blender

It was a simple recipe. Tomatoes in parmesan cups. But we didn't have a food processor, & I wanted to get them started early because my Arbonne party was starting in two hours. I still needed to sweep & move chairs around, YA KNOW? So, I got out the immersion blender. THIS immersion blender, to be exact. Close enough, right? 

Long, gross, bloody story short - The immersion blender bit me. I immediately got mad that I'd ruined my party, as Jared grabbed the new insurance cards that had just arrived that day (thanks, God!), car keys and my purse & drove me to Patient First in rush hour traffic. Patient First jabbed me with a billion needles before deciding I needed to go to the ER. ... 7 hours, 1 chipped bone, 2 xrays, 9 shots & 10 stitches later, we finally arrived at our party-ready home.

This is the third time in my life that I've gotten stitches, & I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that I 1. am a careless person & 2. should just stay away from the kitchen. But! God continues to protect me & Jared didn't pass out... In fact, he was quite the knight in shining armor.

Needless to say, we will be purchasing a food processor.

It's taken me 4x as long as it normally would to type this post. & I'm due up for some Vicodin. YUM!


iphone does: christmastown 2012

We just finished taking down our Christmas tree, which involved 45 minutes of picking pine needles out of our flokati rug. Why is this important? Because I'm feeling particularly hostile towards Christmas right at this moment, but I still pushed through & posted a Christmas blog post. So, let's pretend it's December 16th! *blows snowflakes in your face as we then travel backwards in time*

This year, we made our annual pilgrimage to Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Christmastown with our dear friends on a rainy Sunday. Let me just say that if you are a Christmas fanatic, you must enjoy this little piece of heaven one of these days. & pick a rainy day if you can, because then there's no line for the skyride, which is all sorts of romantical.

A brief description of what Christmastown is: The theme park is decked out in Christmas decor pretty much every direction you turn. Most of the rides aren't open, but there are carolers & fake snow & a Christmas train ride to make up for it. You can see in the pictures that there is nary a tree that doesn't have some form of fairy lights decking its halls. There's plenty of Christmas-themed shows to watch, but you basically just oo & ahh your way through the entire park & suddenly, 4 hours have passed.

This is the second year in a row that we've pretty much just run around drinking hot toddies & singing Christmas songs. There's not a whole ton I can say about it except: sorry to the kids that Amelia pushed out of the way to see the penguins & sorry again to everyone in the shows that thought they were going to hear the performers sing, but instead listened to me.

& if this is somehow captivating to you, you can see more photos from our 2011 visit to Christmastown by clicking here!


reality in a cup

For the greater part of 2012, I was on what I'm calling a "blog sabbatical." Turns out, reading about the sparkly, blue skies version of some other person's life was making me feel insecure about the life I had happening in front of me. You know, the one that actually matters & has a pulse & stuff. Even more worrisome, it was really starting to affect how I wrote, & what parts of our life I was willing to share with the tiny piece of the world that has encountered this corner of the web. But slowly, (very slowly), I am falling back in love with the blogging world and the lovely people that it contains. It probably has a lot to do with feeling like I've gained some perspective over the last year, & definitely has a lot to do with having a better sense of direction for the coming year. I've been filled with a sense of purpose, & it's pretty sparkly, actually.

So, with all the niceties being said, I'm sharing a post with you that I wrote & never published the week of my 24th birthday. (That's in October, for those of you who are keeping track.) It's a little dark, I guess, but it's only right to share the dark & twisty. There's even some blue sky at the end. Consider yourself warned.


It's one of those mornings. The type of morning that only a double shot cappuccino seems to pacify. The rainy, gray sky probably doesn't help my moody, dreary subconscious. But really? The sun would just bother me today. No, I'm feeling pensive & there's not place for sunshine in my state of brooding. Existentialism is in the air & I am inhaling.

I'm turning 24 this week. I only realized that I was turning TWENTY-FOUR about a month ago, & I've been trying to come to terms with it ever since. I know that it's at about this point that every soul over the age of 25 who reads this will begin to roll their eyes & maybe even stop reading. & that's fine because I've had my eye rolling moments with myself, too. 24 is just a number. 24 is not that old.

Unfortunately, it's easier to type that than it is to believe it. 24 sounds big, like the age that you DO THINGS. In the story of their lives, people with bios have a line like, "By 24, he had..." or "When she turned 24, she decided..." Or at least they do in my mind. Like it's this defining age that is filled with purpose & reinventing. Closing doors & opening windows... or just opening whatever you can squeeze yourself through, really. Writing a book, signing a deal, buying a home. Maybe having a baby & beginning that role in life.

Ugh. The guitarist in the cafe I'm sitting in just began to play "Yesterday." This is irony on four different levels.

I am desperately seeking what 24 will mean for me. For us. (& just to clear the air - Babies, while eagerly anticipated, are not on the agenda.) Can I just have a giant checklist show up at my door on Thursday morning? What do I need to pursuit to move forward? Where do we need to go to fulfill that need for new adventures? What opportunities are worth exploring & which ones are worth ignoring? I have these dreams. BIG FAT DREAMS that feel like they're a life-aftering decision away. But what's maybe worse is the thought that maybe I'm just not motivated enough to reach them - The dreams AND the life-altering decisions. I've placed myself in a tiny box, with no windows, taupe walls & probably some ugly, multicolored carpet.

God & I are regularly chit-chatting about my trust issues. Me, trusting wholly & completely. & I try. & I fail. & I pout & eventually reach the conclusion that God is obviously using my continuous state of unrest for something bigger. Something... next. Then I get scared that I'm just justifying my selfish discontent while also giving myself an excuse to be lazy. That I'm actually just living a bitter existence, waiting for a Someday that will never come, because Someday was actually today, & I missed it because I was still dreaming about tomorrow.

So. In an effort to look on the upside before I start designing the flag for this State of Brooding - Here is the reality about today. Reality is that I woke up this morning next to a man who loves me so hard & so well that it actually makes me cry when I try to fathom it. Reality is that I go in to work tomorrow & catch up with one of my best friends, because she is also my boss. Reality is that our ridiculous apartment may have creaky floors & the creepiest laundry basement ever, but it sure does have a great view of the sunset. Reality is rain & a double shot cappuccino on a day when it is good to be 23.

Obviously, I'm far from reaching any conclusions. In the mean time, I'll be reaching for truths. Constant truths to draw close to my soul & find rest in. Like love & the Word & this steamy mug of frothy goodness sitting in front of me.

Today, it is my reality in a cup.


a farewell to 2012

These posts are actually the looooongest posts to put together. But! It was so much fun for us to sit down & look through pictures from 2011 that it seemed worth it to bid a formal blog adieu to 2012, too. Click the "read more" below that lovely wildflower to see all of them! (You can also check out our farewell to 2011 here.)



a cup of kindness... & refresh tea

OH HEY THERE BLOG! I remember you from waaaaay back in 2012! I'm checking in between cough drops, nose-blowing, cups of mint tea & cuddles from a doting husband to say happy new year to you & yours! 

2013, you are quite a looker. let's do big things together, whaddya say?