Uncle and Auntie T-rex

Sometimes life can be a blur.

Though lately, this pandemic has slowed my life down significantly and produced very precise highlights in time. 

After the first three months of abiding to North Carolina’s “stay-at-home” mandate and pretty much leaving once a week to buy groceries down the street, Khang and I cautiously decided to visit our nephews near the DC area.

I remember hesitantly hugging both nephews and my sister/brother-in-law. It felt like a very unknown gesture that seemed so out of practice.

But we hopped right into it as “Uncle and Auntie T-rex” (major kudos to Khang for giving us such awesome monikers!) because with young and active little boys…you gotta keep up! 

This pandemic has heartbreakingly cost unmeasurable lives and still is affecting our world in ways I feel will not be fully understood or uncovered for decades to come.

Some days I feel like I am okay and other days, I have no words.

And y’all, I am not on the front lines or deemed “essential”. So I will not even begin to unjustly try to imagine what it’s been like for those from grocery store workers to healthcare providers or the sacrifices they have made and continue to do at this very second. 

The optimist in me always trying to push through has shown how the “gift of time” has been given to me and Khang. 

I kind of touched on this here during our first 10 days in.

To put it short, our week-long visit with our nephews really changed us

I do not know if they will remember it 10 or 20 years from now, but I know I will

I cannot recall when I realized I wanted to marry Khang. It just kind of happened over the course of time. 

But knowing for sure when we wanted to grow our family. Well that happened during this trip to DC. We realized we want to try sooner than later. 

Babies are cute, don’t get me wrong. 

But as they get older. Gosh it’s the best in my opinion! Their personalities shine through and you appreciate that they have their own little thoughts and opinions. And their avid enthusiasm to learn and soak up information is just the sweetest and most rewarding feeling because you played a tiny part in it. And when you don’t, you are the proudest ever because they learned it all on their own

I know being an aunt is nothing compared to being a mom. Not even close, but I accept I will not know until I become one. 

However, I will always remember that being an aunt, their Auntie T-rex, is when and how I first realized I was “ready” to be a Mom.

Here are a few photos from us at the Strawberry Patch, which we used to make homemade strawberry ice cream and mixed cocktails. Such delicious summer treats!

Just to be clear, “sooner” for us is still a few years out. But even so, we practice Natural Family Planning (NFP) and that has always put us in the mindset of “having a baby is a blessing” at any time. 

So actually what was the main point of this blog??

Khang and I are closer to growing our little family and well, I am just the happiest thinking about it all.

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Mr. Phamtastic

Khang,

You drive me absolutely crazy. And what’s funny is I drive you even crazier. You’re the only person I know who dislikes making a big deal out of their birthday, so naturally, I like to make up for it.

I know I tell you all the time, but here’s another time for the people in the back, you are the best husband.

Thank youuu for helping me with all my endless projects (and toughing out our disagreements that usually come along!), for immediately calling me out when I’m not being my best and keeping me grounded, for feeding me when I forget, so that the unlucky ones don’t feel my wrath (usually you!), and most of all, for inspiring me to live life like the greatest adventure it is.

I love you, Mr. Phamtastic.

Thank you for being so wonderfully you.

not just on your birthday, but everyday!

Truly yours,

Mrs. Phamtastic

Year two together

Hello! I know, I know it’s been over 5 months. I could come up with a whole bunch of excuses, but truth is.. I’ve been struggling. 

Struggling with the decision on whether or not to share my photography, crafts, DIYs, planting, cooking… and well, my life.

But,

Khang encouraged me the other day to get back into it. So here I am, back from my small drought of inactivity with a post about that wonderful and crazy husband of mine. 

Like last year, we wrote anniversary letters to each other. The thought of our children and grandchildren reading them one day sweetens my heart more and more. 

I feel like this has been our first real year because he hasn’t been traveling once a month. This means we were all up in each other’s faces. Aaaaand we survived!

All seriousness though, marriage has changed me. Us. I pride myself for being pretty independent, but I love love how Khang and I have become such an amazing team.

Hands down, Khang grasped this “team thing” much faster and better than me. He would say (and still now), “We should go together… ” Or “As husband and wife, we need to…  ” 

It’s so simple to him–the concept of us. And I love that.

Khang, despite how crazy you make me, thank you for embracing your spousely(is that even a word?) role and showing me a love that I could never have imagined even for my romantic self. You make everyday worth it.

Happy two year anniversary, my love.

Oh and we visited two light houses this past Spring in the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX). I kind of have a thing for light houses since Khang proposed near one. 

Thanks for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Hidden in the hills of TN

The city has many comforts but the wilderness, it calls to me.

Our trip to the Smokey’s couldn’t have been timed better.

Don’t get me wrong. Charlotte is a great city. We’ve been enjoying it.

But it’s a city. A really big city. The biggest I’ve ever lived in.

And we I desperately needed to get away to the countryside.

Why?

I like to think that I deal with stress pretty well.

However, add the stresses of moving to a new city, new state, new job, and new house…it all adds up and I was quite frankly overwhelmed. 

I felt off.

I listened to my soul and knew I needed to be immersed in Mother Nature.

The deers in my backyard were not going to cut it anymore.

Enter Song Sparrow Hill.

This Airbnb by Tiffanie on her family’s 16+ acre property wins the award for Most Unique and Original.

It’s tucked away in the hills of Tennessee near the North Carolina boarder.

When I saw pictures, I knew it was where I wanted to recharge and refocus.

So we were lead to our campsite by the family’s sweet and protective two dogs, Mangus and Boy.

Apparently the owners bought Boy to tend to their chickens. But once he visited the campsite, he decided to stay there. And so they had to bring another dog to fill his intended position.

I don’t blame Boy. You’ll see why.

Below is the outhouse complete with a solar bag shower, “running sink water”, and a composting toilet. It was nothing short of charming.

Oh! I should mention that ALL of the wood was logged and milled from their property! The craftsmanship is sublime.

Our hosts even baked us “sweet bread” and had fresh eggs waiting. It was meant for breakfast the next morning, but it didn’t last very long. The bread was our dessert after dinner. It finished nicely after our grilled steaks.
I mean look at this freakin’ badass tent!!
We gathered around the campfire until it got too cold.

Y’all it was so perfect. The crisp night. The fire. The warm cup of tea. The stars. Shining brightly above the silhouette of trees surrounding our tent. Perfect.

I didn’t get a photo but there was also a wood burning stove inside the tent. You can see the smoke from the chimney in the photo below. It kept us very toasty throughout the night. 

I think the best thing about this lovely retreat was no cell phone service. 

You may laugh, however I’m not kidding.

Honestly, Khang has been extremely busy with work. This is the most I’ve ever seen him work even in college.

Always talking to his team, responding to emails, or catching up with deadlines and this is all after physically leaving work. He was bringing his work home and I was sick of it. 

While talking well into the night, I teary confessed to him that I secretly wanted to stay there in the enchanting forrest disconnected from the world because our current routine at home wasn’t making me happy. 

I mean, I don’t need that much attention, but the man was working too much. 

He agreed and we came up with a solution together. 

Things are thankfully better. I don’t know how many trips we could’ve taken out there. Hah! 

This last photo was taken with Hans “freelensing”. It’s a technique where you detach the lens from the body of your camera to get different focus points.

Khang said it looks like a painting. I think that’s good haha. Regardless, I love the results and will experiment more.

Until next time, Song Sparrow Hill.

Thank you for being just what we needed and more. 

Thank you for reading and following 

along with me,

Jules.

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Autumn with a side of apples

Y’all, fall fall FALL IS HEREEE!!!

This is going to sound lame, but I never associated Autumn with apples. 

I always thought pumpkins!

And once I found an apple farm nearby, I saw apple-everything recipes everywhere!

So on the First Day of Fall, Khang and I welcomed my favorite season with farm-made apple cider, apple cinnamon donuts, and apple-picking at Apple Hill Orchard in Morganton, NC.

Just an 1.5 hour drive!

We ate those yummy donuts and downed that cider before I even thought about taking photos. Ha.

But we slowed it down and took photos while wondering around the orchards.

The most beautiful Red delicious, Golden delicious, and Cameo apples I’ve ever laid eyes on.

I have a sweet spot for farms/garden/anything-growing. So imagine my delight during my very first time apple-picking trip.

And oh so delicious!

We might’ve eaten one or two straight from the branch.

Below are Cameos and they have a crisp juicy tartness to them.

Khang liked them a lot.
Hmmm, Golden Deliciousness. This variety has a much sweeter taste to them and are great to bake since they hold their firmness. 

I liked them better than the Cameos.

We picked 13 lbs worth of apples for about $15.

I baked three batches of apple tarlets to welcome our neighbors the next day.

They turned out delicious!

In return, one neighbor made us apple bread with a caramel glaze–so freakin’ good! 

Thanks for reading and following along

with me,

Jules. 

Oh and all photos were taken by me and Khang with my Contax645 (Hans!) on Fuji400.

Except for that last one.

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