Intro to Write 31 Days 2015 Challenge

Write 31 Days 2015: Daily Life | grey ceiling blog

I am super excited to participate in the Write 31 Days challenge this year. I’ll be writing on daily life – a journal of sorts, I suppose.

Instead of posting a new post everyday and blowing up everyone’s RSS/reader feeds, I’ll be creating each post as a page and linking to it on the Write 31 Days page. I’ll create weekly blog posts that link to all entries for the week, and publish as I normally would. That way, you all get to read what you want to read but don’t have to read it all. If you want to follow along daily, bookmark my Write 31 Days 2015 page, and check back each day.

I’ve created a fancy button, which I’ll include in each Write 31 Days post so it’s easy to identify. I’ll also add this button to the sidebar so you can get to the posts easily.

October is a full month. My birthday is October 1, so I’ll get to start this challenge on my 32nd birthday – which makes me really happy as I can’t think of a better way to start a new year. A dear friend is getting married in October, so we’ll have showers and luncheons and weddings. Our annual Home Fries trip to Charleston, SC also happens in October. I can’t wait to capture the ins and outs of daily life here.

Thanks, as always, for reading :-).

Three Days in Oregon – Day 3

Our last day in Oregon was my favorite. The day dawned cool and overcast, like the others, but the clouds started burning off and we saw gorgeous blue sky and the sunshine. We started the day with coffee from Siuslaw Coffee Roasters and donuts from Big Dog Donuts. I recommend both.

We drove north, and pulled off at the first overlook we passed. The view, in the clear day, was breathtaking. We could see at least ten miles, down to the jetty near my brother’s house.

Oregon coast | grey ceiling blog

We then visited Thor’s Well. Totally cool. It’s an opening in the rocks that fills from the bottom up as waves roll in. I loved the starfish hanging on the side!

We spent a long time standing on the rocks watching the waves roll in. I could’ve spent all day there!

Oregon coast | grey ceiling blog

Our next stop was a beach. Nestled between two huge, rocky hills, the beach was wide but short. Standing on the beach felt like being in a bowl. We explored the rocky border, and found a small section of beach separated from the rest of the beach by a big rock – almost a hidden cove, if you will.

Haceta Head Beach, OR | grey ceiling blog

We took a quick break, and headed north to Yachats for lunch at the Luna Sea Fish House. The food was really good, and we got to sit outside, which was lovely. We also grabbed coffee at The Village Bean Coffee Shop, which was my favorite coffee of the trip. Delicious!

We spent the rest of the day back at the Haceta Head Lighthouse and beach. The trail to the lighthouse from the beach is easy – wide and sloping – and offers amazing views of the beach as the altitude rises. Once at the lighthouse, you can take the trail further up behind the lighthouse, and even over the top and down to Hobbit Beach.

Haceta Head Lighthouse, OR | grey ceiling blog

We also saw sea lions sunning themselves on rocks below the lighthouse! They’re really neat creatures.

View of the lighthouse from the beach.

View of the lighthouse from the beach.

We loved our time on the West Coast. This was J’s first trip to the Pacific Ocean, and he found it enchanting. We can’t wait to go back!

Three Days in Oregon – Day 2

The second day of our trip to Oregon started overcast and humid/foggy. J and I were delighted – it was the middle of July and we were in pants and light jackets! (If you missed it, here’s more on Day 1.)

We did so much this day. We started by exploring the North Jetty, then had a delicious food truck lunch, then headed a few miles north and hiked an awesome trail.

Our first stop of the day was the North Jetty, which is super close to where my brother lived. The bouy at the end of the jetty produces a low whistle every so often (about every 30 seconds, from our timing), and we could hear the whistle when we were going to sleep each night. I took a short video of the sound while we were at the end of the jetty (please forgive the shaky video quality). It was super neat to climb all the way out there on the rocks.

After our jetty trekking, we headed in town for lunch from BoxLunch food truck.. Sooo good. I had a BBQ hotdog.

View of the North Beach in Florence, OR from the North Jetty.

View of the North Beach in Florence, OR from the North Jetty.

View of the North Beach in Florence, OR from the North Jetty.

View of the North Beach in Florence, OR from the North Jetty.

We headed north up US 101 after lunch. The wide city road quickly turned into a more narrow, winding mountain road. The coast to our left, sharp hills to our right. We stopped at the first overlook, and stood on a rock wall, breathless at the view of Haceta Head Lighthouse in front of us.

View of Haceta Head Lighthouse from overlook on US 101.

View of Haceta Head Lighthouse from overlook on US 101.

We kept going north, and stopped on the other side of the lighthouse. We headed down to Hobbit Beach via a short trail through dense, beautiful vegetation. We practically had the whole beach to ourselves. The wide sand gave way to cold, slow waves coming up on the beach. We found tide pools around rocks. The view down the long beach was my favorite.

View down Hobbit Beach.

View down Hobbit Beach.

Looking out at the water on Hobbit Beach.

Looking out at the water on Hobbit Beach.

We jumped back in the car for a short drive to the St Perpetua trailhead. I loved how so many of the places we visited were marked by small pull off parking areas. Made the area seem to be designed for locals, which I love.

The St Perpetua trail is beautiful. Huge trees and green vegetation on both sides of the trail. We climbed and climbed up a number of switchbacks. The higher we climbed, the more mist we could see and feel rolling over the top of the mountain.

There’s a shelter at the very top of the trail overlooking Cape Perpetua. We stopped here to take pictures and catch our breath.

View of Cape Perpetua from the shelter at the top of the St Perpetua trail.

View of Cape Perpetua from the shelter at the top of the St Perpetua trail.

Glorious trees and vegetation on the St Perpetua Trail.

Glorious trees and vegetation on the St Perpetua Trail.

Salmonberries on the St Perpetua trail.

Salmonberries on the St Perpetua trail.

We finished the second day sitting by Devil’s Churn and watching wave after wave roll in. We walked out as far as we could, and sat for awhile. Then we climbed back to the very back point and peered over the ledge. Such powerful force in play.

Wave rolling into the opening at Devil's Churn.

Wave rolling into the opening at Devil’s Churn.

Three Days in Oregon – Day 1

J and I spent a long weekend in Florence, Oregon with my brother and his girlfriend. They were delightful hosts – fresh coffee and hot bacon every morning, comfy bed, plenty of hot water – and spent three days showing off their part of the Oregon coast.

We took a late flight out Thursday night, and finally got to my brother’s place around 3AM EST. I don’t remember the last time we were that tired. We woke up the next morning and took a walk down to the coast, which was a less-than-five-minute walk from their house. A small campground sat at the end of their road, and we walked down a steep trail from the campground to the water.

We spent the first day exploring the coast near their house and visited the south jetty. The day dawned overcast, but the clouds burned off and we saw a lovely mixture of blue skies, puffy white clouds, and ocean fog.

We saw sea lions (!!) playing in the surf here. We were standing near the jetty, eyes westward looking over the ocean, and saw two heads pop out of the surf. We stood stock still, and they started playing in the surf. They’d pop their heads up, then pull the rest of their body to the surface in a back float. They’d bend in the middle slightly, duck their head in the water, and disappear. They repeated this for ten to fifteen minutes. I couldn’t get a good picture of them, so I perused the Internet for good pictures for you to see: this video of a sea lion playing with surfers takes the cake.

We finished the day with dinner at Homegrown Public House that evening – it was delicious. Would definitely go back.

Florence, OR | grey ceiling

View of the Siuslaw River (middle) with the south jetty/beach (left jetty) and the north jetty/beach (right).

Looking south at the South Jetty in Florence, OR.

Looking south at the South Jetty in Florence, OR.

Looking down the South Jetty from the beach.

What I’m Into | August 2015

What I'm Into | August 2015

August feels like the longest month of the whole year. It’s this no man’s land between summer and fall. The first few weeks are blazing hot and stuffy, whereas the last week or two bring wonderfully cool (though not yet crisp) mornings.

This month started with a long overdue girls trip. We spent four gloriously lazy days in Fernandina Beach. Our days consisted getting on the beach by 10AM, hanging out until 2 or 3PM, eating lunch at Tasty’s (, then a shower and out for a late dinner.

Our favorite food places were Tasty’s (obviously), The Salty Pelican Bar & Grill, Ciao Bistro, and the complimentary breakfast bar at the Hampton Inn and Suites.

The rest of August has gone by quickly. I traveled a bit for work (mainly to the DC area), and we had visitors a couple of weekends. We enjoyed a local winery and our favorite local spot, Gustavo’s, with my parents one weekend.  Dahlonega hosts {free} concerts once a month, and we enjoyed seeing Radford Windham and Step Back Cadillac and dinner with friends at Shenanigan’s afterward.



Lorde via Apple Music. Cannot,get.enough of her lyrics, vocals, or beats. She’s been on repeat the whole month.


I’m on the fifth season of Parenthood and still love it. Trying to watch one a week to let it last. J and I are also watching the current Expedition Overland season. The scenery of Central America is incredible!

We also started using Sling TV and really like it so far.


  • I’m loving the Shutterfly iPhone app. So many good deals (like two free 8×10 prints) come across this app and remind me to take time to print and cherish my favorite photos.
  • We’ve started using YNAB (You Need a Budget) for our financials. I love it. YNAB offers a 30 day free trial, which I appreciated as I was able to go through a full month’s worth of financial usage before deciding whether or not to buy. At $60 (one time), this app is a great value. It’s helping us see where our money is going so much easier than any other app or site I’ve used (including which we used before switching to YNAB).


I’ve worked a LOT this month. And the next few weeks will be about the same pace. It’s both exhilarating and exhausting. Lessons of self care and balance have been important. For me, balance is less of an equal-dosage-thing and more of a know-when-to-stop thing. I can work 55+ hours, but I need to know when to call it quits and go cook or read a book or go for a walk. And as long as I’m getting enough of the self care efforts in, the extra work doesn’t wear me down and leave me exhausted. But when I skip the self care, or push too long at work, life gets out of whack and I’m tired and cranky.


Welcoming my second niece into the world! Also looking forward to cooler temperatures, fall fashion, showers and fun wedding stuff for a dear friend, and laid back weekends.

Red Pepper Jelly

Red Pepper Jelly |

A few years ago, I spied a small plate of pepper jelly over cream cheese with crackers at a party. I slipped over, sampled a bite, and proceeded to linger by that table the entire evening. I believe I ate half of the dish.

I went home determined to learn how to make this jelly. Equipped with my first box of canning jars and pectin, I sliced more peppers than I’d eaten in my entire life, poured so much sugar a small cloud of sugar dust hung over the pot, and boiled it all together, hoping the result would at least be edible.

Not only was the result edible – it was delicious! And Justin loved it. So, I started sharing it with friends and making a few more batches. Making and sharing pepper jelly is now a summer ritual, and I wanted to share the {very basic} recipe and process here. Consider this a tutorial if you will :-).

You’ll need the following:

  • 12-14 oz peppers – you can use anything from sweet bell peppers to jalapeños without getting the jelly too hot (I used jalapeños)
  • 2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 6 c white sugar
  • 2 3oz packets of pectin
  • Canning jars – I used the 8oz jars and yielded 7 jars. You can also use the 4oz jars (will yield 14-16 jars)

Before you start with the peppers, wash your jars and lids. You can put the jars through a dishwasher cycle, but not the lids.

First, pick out your peppers. I love the late season jalapeños. The ones I used for this batch came from a local farmer, and sat on my counter turning red for a few days. They’re so pretty!

Red Jalapeños

Next, cut your peppers lengthwise and seed. WEAR GLOVES – unless you are using bell pepper. Jalapeños will burn your hands for a good 24 hours if you cut this many up with no gloves. Discard the stems and seeds. Note: You can add seeds to your jelly – just know they will make it hotter.

Pepper Jelly |

Then add your cut peppers and 1 cup of the apple cider vinegar to a food processor and puree until the peppers are in small pieces.

You can stop here and put this mixture in your fridge for a day or two if you’d like. I usually get to this point one evening, put this mixture in the fridge, and then go through the rest of the steps the next day or two. If you want a really rich red or green color without using food coloring, you want to let this mixture sit for a day or two.

Pepper Jelly |

The next steps happen pretty quickly, so I’m sharing the order I’ve found works best for me. Remember that while you can’t over boil the glass jars or lids, you can burn the jelly.

Prep the jars

  1. Add empty jars to an empty stock pot (if you’re using the 4oz jars, you’ll need to two stock pots with jars).
  2. Pour water into the jars and pot until the water covers the tops of the jars by a half inch or so (not an exact science – you just need the water to be over the top of the jars by a bit so the jars are fully covered).
  3. Put stock pot on a large eye on your stove, and turn the eye to the hottest setting. (This step always makes me wish we had a gas stove!) Your jars need to be at a hard boil by the time you get to step seven below.
  4. Put the lids (the flat piece that goes on the top of the jar – not the rims) in a smaller sauce pan and cover with plenty of water. Set this on a stove eye and turn the eye on high.

Make the jelly

  1. Pour the pepper juice mixture to a large, non-reactive pot (more on reactive vs non-reactive pots here) as you’ll be adding vinegar and cooking the mixture. I use this Lodge Enamel Cast Iron pot.
  2. Add the remaining 1 cup apple cider vinegar and the 6 cups of sugar and stir until well combined.
  3. Bring  the mixture to a boil. I prefer to start on medium high heat and increase the heat slowly so as to not scorch the sugar. Stir regularly as sugar is heating up and melting.
  4. Boil for ten minutes stirring constantly. The mixture should grow a bit as it’s boiling and stirring constantly will keep it from overflowing the pot.
  5. Around minute eight or so, open your pectin pouches so you’re ready to pour when the timer goes off.
  6.  When you’ve boiled for ten minutes, add the pectin, then boil the jelly hard for one minute. You’ll see a slight dip in the boiling process when you add the pectin, so make sure the jelly is back to a full boil when you start your timer for one minute. Stir this constantly.
  7. As soon as the minute is up, take the mixture off the heat and skim any foam off the top.
  8. Working quickly, remove a jar from the now-boiling stock pot, dump water from jar into stock pot, then position funnel over jar opening. Ladle jelly mixture into the jar.
  9. If needed, wipe rim quickly with a damp towel or paper towel to remove any jelly so the lid will seal correctly.
  10. Use magnetic tool to pull a lid from the smaller boiling pot, place on top of jar, and screw rim tightly over the lid and onto the jar.
  11. Set first jar aside and repeat until all jelly is in a jar.
  12. Place jars back in the still boiling stock pot. Once all jars are in, the water should be an inch deep over the top of the jars. You may need to take  little water out of the pot if it’s too close to the rim. As long as you have an inch of water on top of the jars, you’re fine.
  13. Boil jars hard for ten minutes.
  14. At the end of ten minutes, turn the heat off and leave pot on the eye for five minutes.
  15. After five minutes, carefully remove jars and place on a cutting board or doubled-up towel (you don’t want to burn the counter top). Once all jars are out, cover with a towel and let sit, unbothered, for 24 hours.

Whew! That’s it. Now you can step back, listen for the fabulous little “pop!” of each jar as the lid seals to the jar, and dream of all the delicious ways you can enjoy your jelly :-).

For ways to serve pepper jelly other than the traditional cream cheese and crackers, check out my Pinterest board Ways to Enjoy Pepper Jelly. I would love to hear how you use your pepper jelly – leave a note in the comments and let me know.

Pepper Jelly |

Our vintage camper


Two years ago, we bought this adorable vintage camper that needed some TLC. It’s been painted outside and redone inside, and we finally camped in it this weekend!

We camped at River Forks Campground on Lake Lanier. The views were stunning. In fact, our last morning there, we woke up to unseasonably cool temperatures and a delicious breeze coming off the water.

We learned so much this first time out and are already looking forward to going out again (though likely in the fall, given the anticipated heat of the next two months!).

What’s your favorite place to camp?

February Goals | 2015


Several of my favorite bloggers regularly share their thoughts on goal setting (The Tiny Twig and Elise at Elise Joy). I love hearing how others work through their goal setting process, and seeing the specific goals that come out of that process.

I tend to be much more of a jump-in-and-do-it kind of girl than a plan-it-out-and-get-it-done girl. Meaning, I jump into things pretty quickly and assume I really CAN do it all, and that there will be no shock to my system in pursuing a goal. I usually do okay making progress toward the goal while the passion and energy are alive, but I rarely stick something through past the end of the initial wave of passion and energy.

Recently, goals have been rolling around in my head and begging to be written down. I couldn’t write goals down on just any piece of paper, though, so I started using Elise’s goal tracker. I love this approach! I have three yearly goals, and I am using three separate sheets – one for each goal. I know – 100% – I’m going to miss days (maybe even weeks) of working toward certain goals. It’s just how life goes. But I also know that the goal is met by doing my best, not by being perfect. The visual of these templates helps me see that.

I thought I would share my goals with you, both my yearly goals and monthly goals, and track overall progress here – a monthly recap, if you will.

Yearly Goals

1) Study the Bible daily. I’m planning to use the She Reads Truth studies throughout the year, and am also using the SRT #365daysoftruth year long Bible reading plan.

2) Practice yoga daily. I love the flow of yoga and the way my body feels when I’ve completed a session – even just 15 minutes of stretching makes a huge difference. I want to make this a daily practice.

3) Wake up “early” each day. Working from home breeds the temptation to lay in bed until 7:59AM and work the whole day in jammies. Been there, done that, and it’s not all it seems to be. By the middle of the day, I’m yucky feeling, sluggish, bored, etc. When I wake up earlier in the morning, I ease into the day by reading the Bible, drinking hot tea, showering, and eating breakfast. For me, the benefit of waking up early is substantial.

February Goals

1) Complete She Reads Truth’s Esther study, and start the Lent study.

2) Continue reading through the #365daysoftruth reading plan.

3) Wake up ten minutes earlier daily each week. This week, I’m up at 6:30. Next week, I’ll be up at 6:20, The following week, up at 6:10 and so on. The goal is 5AM :-).

4) Complete a yoga session each day. I use and LOVE the Yoga Studio app which offers a variety of classes, and tracks the date and time of each class completed. My goal is to work up to a 45 minute beginner session by the end of February.

5) Eat less sugar.

So there you have it. I’ll report back on goal progress at the end of the month. I’d love to hear any goals you’ve set for this month or year!


Joining Hayley at The Tiny Twig for Goals with Grace.

What I’m Into | January 2015

Dahlonega Morning | grey ceiling

Our back deck on January 17 – it felt like the FIRST sunny day all year.

I can’t wax philosophical about January because its winter, and winter is my least favorite season. If I could get over my dislike of winter, I’d give January a lot of credit. January has been the month of new routines (e.g. She Reads Truth, of warm wood fires in our fireplace, of dreaming for spring, and of celebrating one year since our big move to Dahlonega.

We started January dog tired after traveling home from visiting my sister and her family in Italy for Christmas (I am fully aware of the snobbishness oozing from that statement – apologies). We spent the first weekend recovering, and then jumped back into work. I cannot understate the benefits of the time we took off. Two weeks is long enough to let the cobwebs really clear, and to get to the point where starting the routine of work and life is a welcome change. While 2015 has already had its share of stresses and challenges, Justin and I are both much more balanced and sane on this side of a break than we were in December.

Okay, so on to the FUN STUFF… this month, we loved:
– Reuniting with our Bible Study group
– Brother-in-law coming to stay for the weekend
– Hiking on the AT (Woody Gap trailhead to Preacher’s Rock)
– Celebrating ONE YEAR since our move to Dahlonega
– Seeing Glennon Melton IN PERSON at FBC Gainesville
– Swapping Favorite Things bags with my girlfriends

My earbuds were filled with Taylor Swift and the StartUp podcast series by Alex Blumberg at Gimlet Media (yes, I love the name!)… I am a bit late to the podcast series but am enjoying it immensely.

I picked up a new hobby in January… KNITTING. I technically started in December, but never made it past the first ten rows of any attempt. January, however, brought on my first completed project: a scarf!

January also marks the time to buy seeds. We’ve had a garden for the last few years (probably four or fives years now), and most of those have been container gardens (aka our “pot” garden). We’ll be doing the same thing this year because we’re renting, and the yard is quite rocky. Last year was our first year to grow from heirloom seeds, and I loved it. We’re going that route again this year. I love scouring the Baker Creek Seed catalog. This year, we’re going with purple hull pinkeyes, Craig’s grande jalapeno peppers, golden cayenne peppers, horizon bell peppersheepnose pimento peppers, chadwick cherry tomatoes (my favorites!), and white cherry tomatoes. I can’t wait to get the seeds started! More to come…

We ate really well this month. We started the month with black eyed peas, collards, corn bread, and pork chops… any month/year that starts with that meal is going to be great. We also devoured a pecan pie, Dijon Balsamic Tenderloin and black bean “dip”, tacos with mango salsa, white chicken chili, banana nut bread, and spicy black-eyed peas with cornbread. I recommend it all!

Lastly, but certainly not least… the She Reads Truth study of the book of John, and the year-long Bible reading plan have both been such a blessing. God has used many, many pieces of John to speak to my heart – this ragged, doubting heart that lives within me – and being in God’s Word daily has filled a piece of my heart I didn’t know was empty. I am grateful for the ladies at SRT and all they do.

Looking forward to February: More hiking, visiting favorite wineries, starting seeds, celebrating love, SRT’s Esther study, a day with my mom, and {hopefully} the first real hints of spring.


Joining Leigh at for What I’m Into.

Beach Finds | Turkish Steps

While visiting my sister and her family in Sicily this Christmas, we visited the Turkish Steps. We parked at a beach entrance and walked along the beach to the Turkish Steps. As we walked, Justin’s eagle eyes noticed an array of unique shells, rocks, glass, etc in the sand, and picked them up to show me. I snapped pictures so we’d remember, and wanted to share those here.