It’s Fall Y’all

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“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall,” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself; I just love Fall. It’s a season that I look forward to all yearlong and hate to see end. It’s one of new beginnings and reminiscing on past moments –  that crispness in the air brings back so many memories.

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Memories of my family visiting North Carolina and fall festivals.  To road trips with my dearest friends and hiking in Tennessee. To making fall decorations and baking delicious treats. And to carving pumpkins and going on hay rides – just to name a few.

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Fall is, without a doubt, my favorite time of the year.  To get into the spirit of things, 1. I consult my favorite magazines for inspiration. 2. Look through old family photos taken during the Fall and 3. make a Fall Bucket list to remember all of my favorite fall activities.

  1. Visit a pumpkin patch
  2. Decorate pumpkins
  3. Drink apple cider (or make it – if I’m feeling fancy)
  4. Paynes Prairie picnic
  5. Newberry Cornmaze & Hayride
  6. Fall decorations
  7. Baked pies and pumpkin goodies
  8. Front door decorations
  9. Go to a Fall festival
  10. Football game

So far I have a few things crossed off the list already, including a miraculous Gator football game!  More Fall loving to come in the next few weeks!

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Haile Village Farmers Market

Haile Farmers Market

Although Kev and I have been in Gainesville for a couple of years now, we have never been to one of Gainesville’s farmers markets. This is a real shame too because we love our farmers market back home. I also love supporting local farmers and business owners, so this is the best way for me to #BuyLocal.

Haile Village Center                     Haile Village Center

Today we decided to head on over and check out the Haile Farmers Market, which is located in the Haile Village Center. The market had a number of vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods and other delicious treats!

Shopping in the Center

The first thing we immediately loved about the Haile Village Center was the amount of parking available, which is important when we’re lugging all of our finds everywhere. The second thing I loved was finding a vendor who sold homemade chocolate. I obviously couldn’t leave without buying a milk and white chocolate covered marshmallow stick … and an oreo cupcake from Patticakes.

Chocolate goods                       

We also passed by a vendor that was selling fresh tomatoes – one bushel for $4 and slightly bruised tomatoes for $.25! It would have been a crime to pass by without buying some from the local farmer.

Tomatoes

I also love honey – my favorite being the orange blossom (hence the blog’s name). The Cross Creek Honey Company was selling their different kinds of honey and had samples available. I like buying the sample jars of honey because I can try different kinds that way. I tried the Palmetto and Florida Everglades variety that they had. I took home the Florida Everglades one because it had a molasses texture and flavor to it.

Honey Selections                          Florida Everglades Honey

Within the center there was a number of stores and restaurants open for business this morning. The Village Jeweler was having a storewide sale, which I obviously I had to stop and look through.

The Village Jeweler

I think one of my favorite parts of the morning was being reunited with my sweet Hanny, and spending the morning with my friend Jami. And I think Kev’s favorite part was finding the puppy adoption stand!

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Pinterest Inspired Easy Creamy Chicken Bake

Creamy Chicken Bake

I love to bake. I’m known for my baking skills. But when it comes to cooking an actual meal, where I’ve had to touch raw meat to make it, I’m not that great. I get slightly freaked out by the look of raw meat – why is it pink and slimy? However, I’m slowly but surely overcoming this flaw with easy-to-make recipes from my mom, Gammy and Pinterest (of course).

To me, cooking should be fun and simple. I shouldn’t have to run to the store a billion times trying to grab ingredients or take years to make it. I like recipes that have 5 steps and a handful of ingredients. It’s easier for me to not burn the apartment down this way.

I found this recipe from the Sweet Little Bluebird site. It was so easy and delicious that I had to share it. I also like recipes that aren’t going to break the bank, and this meal probably comes out to around $3 per person.

All I needed was some raw chicken breasts, soup, sour cream and some spices. The exact amount and ingredients can be found here.

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The first step is to spray the casserole dish with non-stick spray. Then touch the gross raw chicken breast and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, mix together cream of mushroom soup and cream of chicken soup with 1 cup of sour cream. Add some water, garlic powder, paprika and fresh mushroom slices (handful).

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Once everything is added together, give it a big stir. Pour it over top the chicken breasts and smooth out the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. During that hour long wait I made some rice, cooked green beans and made a quick salad.

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When it first came out of the oven, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The dish just looked like a golden, brown glob. My expectations were pretty low, but then Kev tried it and said it was delicious. So getting his stamp of approval is kind of a big deal. Enjoy!

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How To: Cheese Plate Perfection

Cheese Plate

I absolutely love cheese. Honestly, I could eat cheese all day everyday – I haven’t met one that I didn’t like. I’m almost 100% sure that I inherited this trait from my mom because she started my love affair with cheese.

That being said, I’ve learned what pairs perfectly with cheese. I decided to share some helpful tips when it comes to creating a cheese plate. These come in handy when you’re hosting a girl’s night in, wine tasting party … or if you’re just Gossip Girl binging. Not that I’ve done that before or anything.

1. Mix different kinds of cheese

Choose different kinds of cheese so that you can have distinct flavors on your plate. I like to pair a soft cheese like blue cheese with an aged, sharp provolone. The blue cheese has a distinct taste that pairs well with fruit and meats. We also added smoke gouda because I cannot pass up gouda.

2. Add some meat

Make sure to add meats such as salami and soppressata. Soppressata is an Italian dry salami that has been cured. The soppressata is a little spicier than the salami and gives a nice kick.

3. Drizzle some honey

To soften the blue cheese, I like to drizzle orange blossom honey on top of it. It gives the cheese a sweet element that really adds another dimension to the plate. I learned this trick from the Savannah Bee Company.

4. Complement with sides

I love to add fruit, nuts, crackers and bread to cheese plates. Depending on what’s in season, I will either add grapes or strawberries. I like to add almonds and cashews because I’m slightly obsessed with cashews as well. You can add roasted vegetables and olives too. However, the most important part of the plate (besides the cheese), is the bread! My absolute favorite bakery in Gainesville is Uppercrust. They make the absolute best, flaky croissants and baguettes.

5. Pair with drinks

I’m personally not a wine fan, but I’m sure that this plate would pair well with a nice, dry white wine. I like to pair my cheese plates with hard apple ciders – there’s just something about the apple that brings out the cheese flavor as well.

Well there you have it! I hope at your next party or gathering or binge watching that you’re able to have a wonderful cheese plate! Enjoy!


First week of Grad School: Finished

Grad school studies

It’s still so unbelievable that I’m in graduate school here at UF. While most of my friends have gone off to the “real world” for jobs, I’m back in school for Round 2. And while these past few weeks have been absolutely wild, I am so happy with my decision to pursue a master’s degree in school counseling.

The first week is always the most stressful as you try to navigate your way through syllabi and scheduling. However, every time I would share my concerns with a classmate, I was reminded as to why we were chosen for this career. My peers would listen to my concerns, lend support and empower my decisions. I couldn’t have survived without them.

Grad school living

Not only do I absolutely love my program, but I also have a new group of friends to call family. My cohort is filled with the most genuine, compassionate and kindest folks you’ll ever meet. Every conversation I have is like a mini pep talk – you could bottle their support and make millions.

And when you don’t dread the assignments or going to class, you know you’re in the right program. I am so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to learn from some of the forerunners in the counseling world. The knowledge and experiences I will gain through this program are priceless.