I work out. A lot.

I love to be in the kitchen, because I love good food. Here are some recent successes.
Personal-sized chicken pot pie

Cake pops (before frosting)

 Election Night Swirled Cake 
(The above two are the brain-children of my friend, Allisa.)

Homemade Nilla Wafers 


Christmas cookies: marshmallow and candy canes
(Recipe from my friend, Allison)

Coconut macaroons

 Why, thank you. :)


Thanksgiving in Georgia

For Turkey day we drove up to Atlanta to spend the day with Taylor's parents and sister. It's amazing how getting away from your daily life to spend a couple days eating, sleeping, cuddling and doing a bunch of nothing will make you the happiest person ever. Also, it gave me the opportunity to experience fall, which doesn't really exist in Jacksonville.

Thanksgiving day Taylor's mom, Corinne, and I spent all day in the kitchen. Taylor came in after catching up with his dad and the three of us busted out a delicious, southern meal. I made my first pumpkin pie (recipe off the can) and I was about to pour it in the crust when I realized I forgot to add sugar! Thank goodness I didn't ruin the pumpkin pie, I never would have lived that one down. And, yes, my mother-in-law is shoving butter under the turkey skin. Welcome to the south!

The next day we drove down to the University of Georgia to check out the law school. It is gorgeous! The day was warm, the campus is clean and quaint with all the brick buildings and we ate a lunch of turkey sandwiches and Taku ginger cookies. We decided we're not interested in transferring to UGA because there's nothing there, which would be really tough for me. Helped us appreciate all the things Jacksonville does offer.

Taylor and I took an afternoon to ourselves and he showed me around Acworth, GA. On one of the buildings in the little downtown was an historic, Coca Cola advertisement wall. Taylor then told me about an NPR article he heard about how Coke holds records for selling coke for the same price for decades, and why that happened. Check it out, it's really an interesting story.

We then stopped by a park that has a couple pecan trees, and when we realized there were still some fresh nuts on the ground, we collected a bunch to make into a pie. It's proof I'm maturing nicely that I love pecan pie so much, I use to be turned off by it because there was no chocolate.

Making the pie was the best event of the weekend. We collected the pecans in the fall light, then cracked them together at the kitchen table; trying to crack the shell while keeping the nut in one piece, then as Taylor prepared the nuts I mixed the filling and Corinne built the crust. It was a unique, simple and bonding experience. Yes, mushy, but I'm a romantic and it was wonderful. And the pie was freaking delicious!!! Seriously, check that baby out. I ate it for breakfast the next day.

We ate the pie while playing Rummikub, and Siam, the cat, liked the crust so much he helped himself to my lap.

He also really liked boiled peanuts, which is why he was always underfoot in the kitchen. But how can you say no to an adorable, old cat like that?


Washington DC in October

This post is way delayed, yes I know, but at least it is happening (unlike my flight home from DC, but we'll get to that). The weekend before Halloween my immediate family (minus Taylor, because he's a dedicated law student) met in Washington DC to play. It was a great weekend! I'll bullet point it, along with pictures, to keep it as easy to read as possible:

  • McKenzie and I spent Friday together in old-town Alexandria walking through town and thrift shopping, before meeting up with Philip and Elizabeth for lunch at the food trucks down town. I really needed that time to just chill with my siblings, especially my sister.
  • For dinner, once my parents were in town, we went and got falafels. Love them. Plus, the little shop felt a lot like La Victorias, so I felt at home. 

  • We saw some of the sights, including looking at some of the monuments at night, and the masonic temple in Alexandria. We didn't go inside the temple, since we didn't have time, but it's still awesome to look at.

  • Saturday we explored Annapolis, which included a white Monster Energy drink, cheddar, jalapeƱo Cheetos, Kilwins' toasted coconut ice cream (Literally, the best EVER.), and a four pound shake. (If you haven't tried those Cheetos, or Kilwins ice cream do yourself a favor and go get some immediately. Otherwise, your life won't be complete.)

  • Since we were together right before McKenzie's birthday we all ate drunken ribeye from Mike's American Grill. In case you haven't noticed, we ate really well on the trip. If you're near Springfield, VA, you MUST try Mike's. Below is my steak, taken in memory of my steak-loving husband, who wasn't there.

  • We then watched the Giants win the World Series (booyah!!) while waiting on hold for hours to change our flights.
  • Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, all flights were cancelled so Mom, Dad and I switched our flights to leave out of North Carolina, we rented a car and drove all night to catch a morning flight home. Thankfully that was the most trouble it caused any of us. Count your blessings.
Talk about a whirlwind summary! 


Random life snapshots

  1. My birthday is in 98 days.
  2. I finally got my hair cut yesterday. I last got my hair cut in July, before leaving Utah, and I've been pushing it off, but the final straw was when my mom mentioned taking family portraits over Christmas. I went to the local Aura salon. I highly recommend them, they're connected with Aveda and I've always been pleased with what Aveda does. Jamie cut my hair dry, which was a first for me and I loved it. She washed, dried, straitened my hair and then cut it. It looks and feels wonderful! (Extra bonus: My hair smells great still!)
  3. The following pictures are:
    1. The sunrise from our balcony.
    2. Testing red lipstick.
    3. Homemade cookie cutter from Grandad Hurst.
    4. Elizabeth's color coordination.
    5. Proof McKenzie has taught me everything I need to know about topknots, messy buns and head scarves.


Weekend Update from Taylor

The other night Taylor wrote this email to our families. He captured our weekend so perfectly, I'm just going to cut and paste it here (with the appropriate pictures). Enjoy!

"To all: After class on Friday, Hilary and I decided to drive up to the St. Johns River ferry. The details on the ferry website say that it leaves every half hour from Mayport Villiage to Ft. George Island. The tickets were listed at a dollar per person, and we thought it sounded like a great date for the broke, law school couple. Without researching the location of Ft. George Island, we jumped in the car and headed towards Atlantic Blvd. On the way to the ferry we stopped at McDonalds to fuel up on Spicy McChicken "sangwhiches," and salty french fries.

"We arrived at the ferry port exactly at the half hour. The director told us that the ferry was leaving, and that we needed to hurry. We parked the car as fast as we could and boarded the ferry, with the gate closing behind us. Once on deck, the First Mate asked for our fare, and we handed over our two dollars. The sun was setting in the western sky, and dolphins were playing in the wake of the ship. We thought we had found the perfect date.

"About one minute after departure the ship made a 180 degree turn towards the west. I was somewhat confused why the ship would be heading down river, but was too enthralled with the scene to care. Five minutes later the ferry docked on the other side of the St. Johns River. It didn't take us long after our arrival to figure out that Ft. George Island is merely the mass of land on the north side of St. Johns River. We had both assumed that since it was called an island, it surely must be out at sea. What Newbies are we. Fortunately the First Mate allowed us to travel on the return trip free of charge. I guess you get what you pay for.

"After our adventure at sea, we stopped at a Singleton's Seafood Shack, which was next door to the ferry port. We were still full from McD's, so we only ordered a basket of fried calamari. The batter was fair, but the calamari was tender and fresh. The back porch, where we chose to sit, was a floating dock with four large fishing/shrimping boats docked at its edge.

"The food was great, and the scene was even better. With the sun setting, and salty air at our nose, we enjoyed our delicious, seafood treat. On the way home we stopped at Peterbrooke Chocolatier for some homemade ice cream.

"I spent Saturday morning at the law school, working on a paper due this Wednesday. When I got home we packed a cooler full of Diet Coke and headed out to our favorite beach. On the way out to the beach we spotted an alligator basking in the sun, so we pulled over to snap a shot. They are impressive creatures on TV, but even more so in person.

"Now that the water is too cold for a typical day at the beach, we have adopted a new beach activity; hunting for fossilized shark teeth. The trick is to wait for a wave to wash away and scan the shoreline for little, triangular-shaped, black dots. We found about twenty teeth in just over an hour. Hilary is a better tooth scavenger than I, and she found the largest, and coolest teeth. Every weekend feels like vacation, which provides a much needed, weekly decompression from law school.

"We can't believe that it is almost Thanksgiving. The daily high is still around 75 degrees. Hilary isn't phased by the warm weather, and she is already decorating for Christmas. We are both excited for the holiday season this year because it marks the end of our first year of marriage, and my exit from the Army.

"Unfortunately I don't plan on making emails like this one a regular event. I just happened to have a few spare minutes this evening while Hilary decorated the house. Love, Taylor

"PS: Hilary here! Taylor covered everything, but I just want to send my love and a few words about decorating. I love the holidays, and since we'll only be in our place for half of December I jumped over Thanksgiving and decided to decorate for Christmas now. Taylor and I drove down the street this evening and collected some big, beautiful pine cones and acorns. Then we went to the dollar store where we bought festive wrapping paper and some ornaments. Voila! Six dollars later we are seasonal! Love, Hilary"


I worry about Coozie's feelings

While organizing the kitchen, just now, I went to put the cookie scoop away in its drawer when I saw I'd accidentally put my coozie in that drawer instead of the cupboard.

"What are you doing in there? You don't belong there." I told the red lump of foam as I threw it into the cupboard.

I immediately felt bad, worried I would give it a complex about "not belonging" and whatnot. Before I could realize I was being neurotic, I reworded the sentence into a more feeling-friendly statement.
How's that for over-sensitization?


Sweet Pete's Candy Shop

My family knows how to make amazing food, because we love to eat amazing food. You know it's a Hurst party when you have cream cheese in three different forms, Hurst Hooch (homemade rootbeer), ice cream and Grandad's candy. Yes, I grew up in a world dipping chocolates with Grandad, the real-world Willy Wonka. See proof from my amazing artist and journalism cousin. Thus, when I found Sweet Pete's candy shop, where they do candy making classes, I knew we had to go.
The location is downtown, in an old house that has been renovated into a shop and candy-creation facility, complete with party rooms on the second floor that boast a teal, glitter fire place. I wish the Halloween decorations weren't there because the whole place is so happy and beautiful and then there's a gigantic spider.

Luckily we went in the middle of a lollipop class that was being held for an eight-year-old's birthday party, so we got to watch Pete in action. Yes, we met the Pete.

We bought a good mix of chocolate covered things, and some jelly beans, and best of all was the salted caramel. The caramel is smooth and creamy and then BANG a pop of salt. And the flavor sticks through the whole experience, as opposed to being nice at first then wandering away by the end.
I love food. Anyone else have family traditions like that?


Jacksonville Equestrian Center

I love horses. I can't say I've always loved them, because I have distinct memories of building collages on our family's first computer of cheetahs (the only other animal that has been my "favorite"), but it is fair to say most people would be surprised by that fact. I am, and probably always will be, a horse girl. Luckily, Jacksonville has an equestrian center.

Taylor and I haven't had time to go see any of the big events at the Center, but we didn't have plans two weekends ago so we decided to go to the free 4H event. The Center is gorgeous! Large, well-kept facilities with indoor and outdoor show-rings,paddocks, stables and large open areas where you can park your trailer and ride off into the surrounding woods.

People who say horses are messy and smelly have probably only ever been to grungy ranches to take pony rides on dirty horses. I enjoyed every second of it.

The event was obviously put together to give kids an opportunity to practice a "show." The only people there were close family, things were lowly populated and very quiet, which was nice. The only issue is I am still gaining confidence to take pictures of people I don't know, so I didn't get the pictures I would have liked, but I did get some.

When we left we wandered around, since we were in a part of Jacksonville we'd never visited, and we literally followed our noses to a BBQ shack.
The service wasn't anything to brag about. Actually, we stood around for a few minutes wondering how things worked until the worker (and I assume owner) opened up the window and took our order. It was so worth it. The meat was delicious and tender and the sauce wasn't over-powering. Plus, the place is called JW's Best Butts BBQ. How can you not go back?