Posts in "Charlottesville"
The Memories (and Roads) You Forgot About
The Memories (and Roads) You Forgot About

I was running errands a couple weeks ago and stopped by the nail salon down the street from my house for a quick manicure. It was rainy and I was tired, but I needed a sparkly nail color for my trip to Las Vegas. Getting my nails done before a trip or event has been a tradition for longer than I can remember. I know it's a thing for a lot of people, but as I left the salon I realized that I had almost mindlessly rolled into the parking lot, signed in, and later checked "manicure" off my to-do list.

It reminded me of the weird little nail salon next to a Kroger that my mom and I used to go to--before vacations, before I graduated from high school, before any event that had us excited enough to want to prep in some way. As I sat in the salon by myself that day, waiting for gold gel polish dry under the UV light, I realized how far removed our life in California is from the days we used to live all over Virginia, extra-close to our families.

I grew up in Roanoke and met Rob in Farmville even though he had also been in Roanoke for high school, and then we moved to Charlottesville together before he lived in DC and I would drive there on the weekends, getting to know I-81 N like the back of my hand. We traveled 81 and 64 more times than I can count, and through all four seasons, but the one that sticks the most is spring, in the rain--when the air is damp but not muggy yet, and everything is fresh and greener than you remembered it ever could be.

There's a stretch of 280 N that reminds me of those days back east. When we were first moving to California everyone told us how amazing the weather was, and from our own visits we knew, too. It's sunny and mild every day and there are palm trees and cacti in my neighborhood. But this winter has been rainy and grey and occasionally, on a damp highway lined with evergreen-studded mountains, it almost feels like we're back.

So maybe you're driving yourself from the South Bay to a dermatologist appointment in San Francisco on a dreary January afternoon, listening to podcasts and sipping hot water with lemon after a blog meeting and a barre workout. But it could also be the road between Charlottesville and Roanoke on a rainy April morning; the sun coming up over the mountains as you make your way to the coffee shop where you work every day before returning to your small apartment on The Corner to write more of your master's thesis.

I didn't know that winter in California could look and feel like spring in Virginia.

But sometimes, it does.

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Recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Dates

One of my favorite restaurants in the entire world is conveniently located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mas Tapas has awesome sangria, fun margaritas, and some of the best food I've ever eaten; and because it's a Spanish place, it's mostly Paleo without even trying.

It's been some time since I called Charlottesville "home," which has given me the opportunity to attempt to re-create some of my favorite dishes from Mas' menu. I'm almost there with a goat cheese and artichoke dip, but it still needs work. The bacon-wrapped dates, however, I hit out of the park on my first attempt (if I do say so myself).

This is one of the easier and still most delicious things you could probably ever make. You don't have to do anything to either of the ingredients, because both ingredients are inherently perfect. I do like to stuff them with goat cheese before wrapping them in bacon, though, because I'm wild like that.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates | Freckled Italian

Ingredients:

  • As many dates as you want. (I would make 3-4 per person, though.)
  • As much bacon as you want. (Each date gets half a slice.)
  • Several tablespoons of softened goat cheese. 

Instructions: 

  1. Split open each date with a small paring knife and stuff with goat cheese--I like to take a little spoon, get some cheese, and roll it into an oblong ball before just popping it right in.
  2. Wrap each stuffed date in about half a piece of bacon. Place on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until bacon is cooked through and the whole bite is caramelized. They're going to be really super hot, so give them a second to cool if you can. If not--I understand--just enjoy with caution! They're best when still quite warm. 

 

This post was originally published in June of 2012, but I've since updated the recipe and wanted to include a new photo. Old comments are kind of wonky since I switched from Blogger to Squarespace, but I now reply to everything right there in the thread.

 

Photo by Courtney of Sweet C's Designs, when we were in California together this summer.

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In Three Apartments

Sometimes I forget that we've shared three apartments.

The first one was in Roanoke, where I found anxiety and started graduate school. I felt like such an adult, grinding my coffee beans fresh every morning and parking in my garage. Rob lived there over the summer, and then Christmas break, and then moved in for another summer after his graduation from Hampden-Sydney, but it felt less like our apartment than it felt like it was mine, even if it didn't fit.

The second one was in Charlottesville, with weird green carpet and a tiny kitchen, but a little office/guest room that made us feel like we had a home. We spent hours in libraries and computer labs, at bars with cheap drinks and cornhole set up under a string of outdoor lights, and were constantly with friends. I felt like less of an adult, with a part-time job as a barista and afternoons full of research, and I loved it.

Now we're in Minneapolis, in the high-rise apartment with a balcony and a pool we never use. It's big enough and everything is new and we finally have that bookcase from IKEA that I've always wanted. This is the apartment we have as an engaged couple, and it's the first place we'll live as newlyweds. What other defining moments (other than that impending Minnesota winter) will occur while we live under this roof, I don't know yet. But I'll look back one day and see it from the future, and I'll tell you what this place was like and what it means to us because of that.

After a year apart, I forgot that living together is something Rob and I have done before--the norm, really. We've left little parts of ourselves places and picked up and taken things with us, and now we're here, together (again).
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