Winter Days + Cheddar Broccoli Soup

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

 

With a new baby, we had lots of family visitors coming to see her in the month of December. My oldest sister made us a copycat of Panera’s Cheddar Broccoli Soup – and James has already requested it a couple times since, so we have eaten it plenty lately. Turns out, the leftovers are great over a baked potato too!

I am more of a dump and pour cook, so I don’t exactly measure everything out exact each time. We also put the carrots and broccoli in the food processor to chop it up and make things quick and easy.

After a handful of requests for the recipe (after posting about it on Instagram) – Here you go!:

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ½ medium chopped onion
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ lb fresh broccoli / about 1 cup – (I process some fine and leave some larger pieces chunkier)
  • 1 cup carrot, julienned (or throw it in the food processor and pulse chop it a couple times like I did)
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
 Cooking Directions…
  1. Saute the onion in 1 TB melted butter and set aside. In a large pot make a roux by whisking together the melted butter and flour over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes (this is what will thicken your soup as it cooks).
  2. Whisk in slowly the half & half and chicken stock. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the veggies! broccoli, carrots, and onions. Let them simmer on medium low for about 25 minutes until tender.
  4. Add nutmeg, salt & pepper, and sharp cheddar cheese. Let the cheese melt and then serve with some warm crusty bread for dipping!

 

You can tweak it too – add cubed potatoes. Add more cheese or different varieties. Add more or less broccoli and carrot. Maybe top it with some crispy bacon crumbles when you serve it?? YUM. Though I guess these things make it less of a Panera Bread copycat recipe. Whatever.

 

Maybe with the new year I will FINALLY catch up on some blogging? Maybe. Maybe not. I have tons of pictures of this new sweet babe of ours that need to be posted!

Happy Winter

xoxo

 

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Bethany & Matt – Sweet Tooth Fairy shoot

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Meet Bethany and Matt – the cutest love birds on the block! It was a ton of fun shooting them because they are very dear friends of mine. James and I were so lucky to have Bethany fly out to Georgia and film our wedding! Check out her work….she is one TALENTED videographer to say the least – BP FILM.

Also, if you live in the Provo/Orem, Utah area – The Sweet Tooth Fairy has some of the best cake bites and cupcakes I’ve ever had! (try the lemon!)

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Aren’t they so so cute?!

Stay tuned for more on this part of the shoot coming later…..

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love, whit

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the WORST foods you can eat

i had a three hour layover in Denver the other day. what did i do?

i spent it reading health food magazines. ha!

which is a good thing, because it rekindled my “i’m going to be a healthy eater” drive.

ok, i’m not really a terribly unhealthy eater. in fact, i blow more money on fresh produce and healthier options than i can afford. but, there ARE some things now that i’m going to avoid even more so…and need to cut out! say “NO!” to processed crap!

what are they?

the WORST foods you can eat (some very OBVI):

1. margarine –  stick with butter…the REAL thing

2. soda – (even ASPARTAME – which is basically in all artificial sweeteners, is very bad for you – aka – DIET/ZERO sodas)

3. potato chips – said to be one of the main foods that people tend to overeat. and horrible for you. (well duh! but ugh! no more flaming hot cheetos or pringles?! james can attest to my latest pringle addiction)

4. doughnuts – yes, whitney, that includes maple bars.

5. low-fat foods –  cookies, snacks, salad dressings, yogurt, and other processed foods with the “low-fat” label use substitutes that are worse than choosing to buy the real/natural/unprocessed food option.

6. processed meats /hotdogs – packed with sodium and unhealthy who-knows-what. (J-DAWGS!!! – nooooo!!!)

7. frozen meals – just stay away from them! even low-fat ones are heavily processed and loaded with sodium and preservatives.

8. processed cheeses/dips – like cheez whiz – gross. don’t eat it.

9. french fries! – go for the homemade/baked ones

10. microwave popcorn = NOT your healthy snack alternative. trans fat and sodium! unless it’s plain/you add your own flavors or you carefully read the label first.

other things to note…

– avoid processed bacon. and be wary of how much bacon you eat when you do. (oh, i LOVE my bacon!)

blended coffee drinks – SO bad for you! i don’t have a problem with these. but someone who reads this might and should reconsider : )

high fructose corn syrup….

AGAVE NECTAR! who knew?! it’s supposedly the “healthy” all-natural sweetener. but it has the highest amount of fructose!

– artificial coloring, sodium nitrate/nitrite, MSG, and refined oils.….check your food labels for them = BAD FOR YOU!

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i could eat like this and be WAY happy….

anyway… this is my resolve to eat better.

of course, we all deserve a treat now and again. but really…if you stick to healthy REAL foods…those are what become the “treats” and you don’t crave the other stuff. true story.

i talk like i’m profesh at this, and i’m not. but i know it happens. and i’ve learned to prefer the real stuff more. i just need to get better at it.

….starting..now!…

love, whit

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wedding planning

6 weeks to go until the big day.

summer classes ended. finals over and done with. i’m all moved out. and i was on a flight home to GA yesterday.

i have about 10 days in town to figure this wedding stuff out before i’m back in UTAH for fall classes to start. james is busy being a world traveler right now in Argentina – visiting friends from his mission. i wish i could have gone with him, but the budget wouldn’t permit it.

budgets. booooo!

anyway… my first night/day home has been successful. Mom and I did some thrifting and found a few “gems” to use at the reception. then we ate ourselves sick of tacos from a couple places. though taste testing to find the best carne asada is rather fun! salsas and dips and chips…my tummy is happy/full. also, i’m pretty sure we found our winner.

seeing as we want to have more of a “wedding party”…

this little guy that we found at Mercado Jalisco will be joining us:

…yup, that’s a pinata!

i thought he was cute. a green bull!
he’ll really bring the FIESTA into it.

things are coming along nicely. i promise it’s all going to come together very well! – our country rustic bbq/mexican theme. Ha! odd? nah… we’re incorporating james and me very well into this. it’ll be a blast!

dress & shoes = puchased and perfectly fitted

suit & shoes = purchased (such a steal too!)

invites = printed… and now the fun fun addressing and stuffing needs to happen

menu = coming along nicely but needs some work still

cakes = it’s great having talented sisters and now sister-in-law!

decor = needs to be finalized with Lana

lots of little details to work out still…but i feel things are pretty under control and in good timing.

i’m excited for james to get home. and to go out and see Michael and June’s property (James’ brother+wife) where the reception will be held. i’ve seen pictures and have heard how ideal it is — finally i’m in town to see it!

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bridal shower tonight!

i’m so blessed to have such great friends. My bestie, London, and her mom are throwing this for me. i feel very loved and grateful. can’t wait to see so many faces i’ve missed so much!

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james needs to make it home from Argy not shot or robbed, plzkthanx…i miss him…

love, whit

p.s. – remind me later to tell you all about how i’ve decided to cut out all processed foods from my diet. hahaha…

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my life in shminstagram

visual update of what i’ve been up to this summer…

okGO!

…italian sodas with elissa…

and play dates with elissa and nate in SLC…

…my sunflowers grew MIGHTY BIG this summer!!!

and i got some flowers from my lovah…

FIVE SPOT frozen yogurt. YESSSS!

…james and me sitting on a big bail of hay. no big d.

and he snags pics of me as i sleep in the car…

we upgraded in life!…

meal for $3!

dates with chels and bryce…

…ok now you are sick of us.

i fell in love with Mountain West Burrito…

…and love when Costco has SALES on pizza!…$6!…

4th of July FUN with the Beach Boys…

study time with james…

the ugly ashy clouds out my window for days when we had all the big forest fires…

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he likes anchovies on his salads apparently…

…fancy dinners at italian cafes…

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a lovely saturday with my ladies in Salt Lake City – Temple Square…

atop the conference center with chels and carolyn

ok…

i stay busy, see?

happy summer!

love, whit

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j + w … the engagement story

where have my blogging manners gone?!?

my poor blog has been severely neglected ever since the move to Utah. ok, correction, ever since a certain someone came into my life. yes, i readily blame him – the one who i opted to spend all my free time with instead of blogging. (i sure seemed to find it a better “usage” of my days)

do you blame me?!

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stud

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…and we fit well together from the get go. which was march. of 2012. …i know what you’re thinking, you’re doing the math. yes, it’s only july. people, let’s embrace the love story for what it is!

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should i take a step back? to say, march 2012… i’ll try to be brief (HA!)

… MARCH 2012 – Whitney was working for DoMyOwnPestControl and it was all the latest news around the office that James, her bosses’ youngest brother was coming home from serving a two year mission in Argentina.

SIDE NOTE: Now, Whitney and James were already acquainted with each other from years prior (her mom taught him piano when he was just a young tyke and they knew each other from church), though their age difference didn’t place them as close friends growing up.

ANYWAY…

Due to her current employment and having close mutual friends, James and Whitney were obligated to become better friends.

Within a matter of days, the two had already arranged to carpool to work and were hanging out together after hours.

They enjoyed each other’s company, you could say.

Post work/carpool hangouts began to draw-out longer, weekend hangouts and plans were quickly thrown into the mix, concerts, movies, walks, when they weren’t together…they were still in constant communication.

The relationship became official in what seemed like no time – though to them, it had felt like had been dating for a lot longer than the numbers showed.

DiLEMMA! …Whitney had plans to move to Utah in mid April to finish school at BYU. James also had plans to attend BYU, but not until August.

so here’s what happened…

James, out of the blue, decided that starting school in June wasn’t such a bad idea. And the two, out of the blue, happened to be on the same flight out to Utah in April – her, for school. and him, for his best friend’s wedding. He helped her move in and get settled back in Provo; his ten day stay just wasn’t long enough. He was on a plane back to Georgia. It would be six (and some change) long weeks until they would be together again.

Or would it be??

For her 25th B-Day in May, he flew out and completely surprised her. It made the wait for June easier.

Spring term of classes ended, and Whitney was on a flight to Georgia only to turn around and head right back to Utah….but this time in a pick-up truck with James!

(best road trip ever – cross country in three days with as many side stops as they desired)

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…so now we’re both in Provo, UT – living perhaps 4 blocks from each other and taking one class together. James is getting used to my emotions, cleaning habits, and love for gourmet foods. I’m getting used to his constant need for back rubs and love for basic simple foods like mac-n-cheese or chicken fingers (boooring!)

Despite personality differences, we agree on the important things. a complimentary great combo of salty and sweet. sugar and spice. peas and carrots. frosty and fries. you get it?

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Moving right along, and skipping the juicy deets, here we are at July 5th… I receive an envelope at my door containing the following:

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!!!!

Then came yesterday, July 6th 2012

4:30 – He came and picked me up and, as usual, James would not tell me where we were going – just that it was to eat dinner and he had a reservation. (i’ve learned quickly how much he likes surprises and puts a lot of thought into things)

We arrived in SLC at Fresco Italian Cafe (noted as top restaurant in SLC)

after our fancy three course white tablecloth dining, we perused an old bookstore and then off to Dolcetti for dessert

G E L A T O!

nothing better than a little corner shop with obscure ambiance and obscure homemade flavors…

delish!

We finished dessert in time to head HERE at 8pm:

We enjoyed live DJ music, food, and the opening of a new exhibit… Mr. Winkle!!!

probably the funniest art exhibit i’ve ever seen…James sure knows how to pick ’em! …

here’s to contemporary art museums!

we left around 9 pm…

Now, a lot of people ask me if I saw it coming or had any hunch that the evening would be a “special one”…

Answer – kind of.

Though at this point, we were heading to the truck and our “planned itinerary” had come to an end. I was busy instagramming photies from the evening’s events and not paying much attention to where we were going. Then I looked up and noticed we weren’t heading back to Provo, but towards the mountains.

Hmmm…

I could’ve pestered James with where we were heading, but i’ve learned that it does no good because he never complies. So i decided to remain quiet and see where we’d end up.

It took a while, so i finally asked, “Are we going camping then??”

James – “Maybe”

Road signs told me we were heading to or already in Emigration Canyon – which I found out later is the best place to find the prettiest views of the valley.

We eventually winded high enough that we came upon a small gravel scenic overlook where he pulled over.

We had made it!

Or so I thought until he left the truck running, hopped out, walked over to a rusted fence, pulled a key out of a rusted box on the rusted fence and unlocked the rusted gate that was closing-in the overlook. He drove in enough to then lock the gate behind us.

I stare at him, very puzzled and awed, thinking…”Um, what kind of connections do you HAVE?!” All James does is smile and roll down the windows as we proceed down a path that could hardly be considered a dirt road but more, two lines of tire tracks careened on the side of a mountain.

We end up on the top of a completely secluded mountain – the top being only big enough for the truck and maybe space for a 6-point turn around. Endless gorgeous views on all sides.

(note – the photos don’t do justice to the view – at ALL)

…music playing, cozy blankets and each other’s company – we soaked in the views around us from the bed of the truck.

As i sat there, i remember thinking, “no one has ever done anything like this for me”

…we may or may not have shared a couple slow dances and a few kisses…

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then james says he has something for me and pulls out a handcrafted book from the back of the truck. by this time it’s dark outside and i begin looking through the book by flashlight – james huddled close in the blanket.

yup, james got crafty and sentimental on me…having saved every ticket stub or memorabilia from every thing we’ve done together…

starting at the beginning…

until i got to the last page…

dead give-away…

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…that is when he made me stand up, pulled a box out of…somewhere…and got on one knee…

all i remember is him talking about cherishing all the memories we’ve made and wanting to fill up the entire book with many more to come…he popped the question in the there somewhere too, but he was emotional and i was emotional so replied, “Of course I will!” with a big hug through the tears before even letting him show me what was IN the box…

i don’t think i’ve seen anything more beautiful than what he picked out for me inside of that box…

(note: i was not involved in any ring shopping of the sort, nor did i hint at any ideas. james did this one all on his own…selecting and purchasing the “perfect” ring back on May 15th — he sure sat on that one for a while. i guess he was all in from early on)

OH. EM. GEE.

yeah, that’s what i was thinking.

we took a few minutes before heading back down the canyon

the ride home consisted of phone calls and texting to the ones who needed to know stat

and the rest of the night was spent discussing events to come…in all smiles

the big day is coming!

…October is the plan. In Georgia.

exact date TBA.

…i still can’t get over the rock sitting on my left hand. it  S P A R K L E S!!! it sparkles in the dark. it sparkles in the bathroom. it sparkles in the kitchen. it sparkles in the sun. it sparkles when i do the dishes too!

ha

i have to say, i have never felt more loved by anyone than james. how am i so lucky to have come upon someone so thoughtful and full of surprises? someone so willing to put up with me and love me in all my imperfections. someone so quick to apologize and so willing to compromise. someone who has the same long-term goals as me. someone who makes me laugh and holds me tight and makes me feel like i am #1 in his life. someone who i want by my side and really makes me happy. someone who is fun and easy to love. someone who is easy to talk to and makes me comfortable. someone who has become my best friend.

i feel like the luckiest girl

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so that’s our story, for now…

updates to come!

love, whit

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food obsessed

what a great resolve…

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so i’m a little obsessed with this easy peasy “Crusty Bread” and keep baking it…

(horrible phone pic….but always consumed in a day or two via my roommates and i…)

no kneading, no fuss, i like to make mine with cheese…

my friend’s mom (who has the BEST cooking blog) made some while i was staying at their house. i was in love. she put pepper-jack in the particular loaf i ate…

anyway…check out the recipe. it’s a quick and DELISH hit!

http://simplysogood.blogspot.com/2010/03/crusty-bread.html

i don’t have a fancy pot like she uses….so i take the inside part out of the crock pot and use that. works just as well!

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i came upon another LEGIT mexican food joint….with some killer tacos and a salsa bar!

not to mention a slice of mexican chocolate cake to DIE FOR (mexican chocolate = moist with cinnamon included)

Tarahumara Cantina

i kind of got way excited when i saw the name of this place. i often saw Tarahumara Indians in Mexico when we’d visit my grandparents in the summer down where my mom grew up. they wear the most colorful clothing and big skirts and dresses…and weave beautiful bracelets (because i bought a few off of one once). anyway…it made me happy!

great food!

and like 25 fresh homemade salsa options!

about 20 minutes up Provo Canyon and in a town called Midway.

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so, i’m officially back in school and the term is almost over already! goodness…only about a week and a half left of classes. finals coming up. ooooh boy…

love, whit

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where have i been?

i’ve been busy obsessing over these tacos:

and this boy…

lone star taqueria in salt lake city….my favorite lunch spot. ever. 3 times in one week. done and done.

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allow me to state the obvious: the blog has been neglected.

i moved across the country. i’m getting settled into my new place. i’m officially back in school.

i need to apologize because all my latest life happenings have gotten in the way… well, i shouldn’t say “in the way” – they’ve just postponed my blog happenings. and my march letter writing goal did not get completed. though i AM still sending those…just delayed. please don’t hate me! it has been a crazy last couple of months.

with all the comings and goings and outings and changes of the last while…it has been refreshing. i also find myself getting a little stressed. and anxious. and probably on the verge of over-analyzing my life and future to unhealthy levels. decisions scare the buhjeebus outta me! i have a track record of making the wrongs ones, and it makes me nervous to no end.

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more updates later.

i have homework and classes to study for.

love, whit

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that time i tried to go on a diet

 

 HAVE YOU EVER GONE ON A DIET??? i haven’t. ever. i like eating way too much. i’m rather food obsessed actually, and i love cooking. especially since the invention of pinterest and my discovering foodgawker.com. what GREAT time wasters! though healthy eating is big for me, so it’s not like i’m overweight or anything. i have just never really been able to restrict myself from eating something i want. ha! i just make sure i exercise so i can…which is how it should be, right?

WELL…i decided to do this diet i found. it claims to make you lose 10 lbs in a week! dream come true! it seems healthy…fruits, veggies, that kind of thing: READ ABOUT IT HERE.

thus it happened: the non-dieting whitney went extra-fruit-and-veggie shopping, stocked the fridge, and decided to give it a go.

UGH is all i can say. disaster.

i am just NOT the diet type of person. the first day: all fruit, nothing else. i had a whole carton of strawberries..papaya…red grapefruit…grapes…and yet i felt so empty all day. just making endless trips to the bathroom. it was like i had nothing inside of me. ick. you know how in movies or commercials the food will start talking to people and calling their name – just INTICING you to eat them? OH EM GEE that happens! i can now say i’ve experienced it first hand. my dove chocolates and fruit snack stash at work were staring at me with their big Pixar puppy eyes. horrible feeling. so i ended up going home and eating myself a big bowl of cooked cabbage. yes, a healthy choice still. but it filled me up which is what i wanted. and… i ruined the “all fruit” day. whatever. not that bad of a cheat, right?

day two: a baked potato for breakfast (i was allowed one “pat” of butter…and i may or may not have exaggerated how big a “pat” is) and then only all veggies all day. let me tell you that baked potato tasted like a gift from the gods! i was feeling good. i steamed a mother load of fresh broccoli and cauliflower for lunch. and even had some zuchinni, cabbage ( i really like cabbage), mushrooms, and onions (all lightly cooked together, i’m so classy with my veggies)….but then i started to be just sick of it. and again…i was peeing like no other. everything i ate went straight through me. i was feeling empty and with no energy. who would’ve thunk such a “healthy diet” would do that? i attempted (yes, attempted. i always feel like a fool) yoga and then 3o mins at the gym….but felt like a weakling. NO energy. and empty. go figure, i went home and ate some carrots….with hummus! HA. yes, i dunked those carrots in that hummus…big scoops with no shame. i’m pretty sure protein is no-no for this stage in the diet….but i felt so sick without it. and…i was craving something with flavor. hummus is divine!

day three: TODAY. i’m realizing how bad i suck at following a diet. only fruits and veggies. not bad, thing is i woke up feeling nauseous. to the point where i could hardly stay standing. i was shaky and miserable and had to keep sitting down or laying on my bed in the process of trying to get ready for work. i ate some fruit in the car on my way to work, but i still felt like i had no energy and sick to my stomach. maybe people who diet all the time are used to this kind of thing?? i read about a model who would only eat an english muffin and water every day – half in the morning and half later in the day….but to me, it’s just not worth it (though i really didn’t think just fruits and veggies would do this to me – my mom seems to be fine and she’s doing it as well). anyway…i said forget this and drank one of my Odwalla vanilla protein shakes. good for energy. and i feel like a million bucks now! yes, it’s against my diet. oh. well. then after eating my container of fruit and a petite vinegar dressed salad for lunch (that’s all you’re ‘allowed’ on salads) – my goldfish that i keep at my desk were calling for me. cheddar blasted and pretzel mixed. who could resist! …so of course i had a handful …or so. then 3 or 4 (maybe 5) of my dark chocolate covered almonds made their way into my mouth too. let’s admite it, i’m SUCH a good dieter!

tonight was a girl’s friday night at the mall of georgia with Paige. shopping and a movie (This Means War – such a fantastic rom-com, i recommend it!)…and i may or may not have had some chick-fil-a chicken strips with a coke zero. the “zero” in coke zero means zero cals…just in case you didn’t know.

whatevs. i’m still continuing with the diet schedule and we’ll see what happens. i maintain i will still lose weight even with my cheating. diets are so stupid. besides…i’ll be at the gym tomorrow. and “only” eating bananas, milk, and some no-cal soup. gross, right? i know. but don’t worry, i have things under control…i still have some leftover wild blueberry white chocolate cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory in my fridge if i really need it.

OTHER ITEMS OF BUSINESS:

1. i just might need this fantastic bathing suit (anthropologie)

2. i’m moving. to Utah. Provo specifically. in mid April. at my ripe old age, i’m embarking on the “get my degree” journey. i’ve mapped out my graduation plan and should be done in exactly two years. dear heavens i hope so. i’m in it to win it!

3. i’m very much looking forward to this change in scenery and daily activity. and even more stoked about living with my lovely Chelsea Vose! not to mention…being just minutes from so many other people that are on my favorites list that i rarely see because i’ve been so far away east coast bumming it for the last two years. (was that a run-on sentence? probs. whatevs.)

4. Waffle House gives me THE biggest stomach ache every time i go. but i never hesitate to go when an opportunity suggests it!

5. before being utah bound, i’m florida bound. for the beach, to be exact! YESSSS. talk about a much needed week vacay in early april. it’s Paige’s spring break, and there is just no better way to spend it.

6. maybe i’ll actually get a tan??? it’s been so long since my skin has been any shade darker than pale. ha. i used to work as a county lifeguard and swim instructor for a few years – in the sun EVERY DAY and i was still made fun of for being so white. i’ve learned to embrace my complexion. though, basking in the rays in still worth a shot. can’t wait.

7. this means my “beach bod” needs some work as well. since i’ve been home from Italy, my gym attendance is PATHETIC. where i used to go and stay at least an hour – often Zumba and then some miles on the treadmill….now i’m doing good to make once or twice a week and feeling done after 30 minutes – HA! so it’s time to get myself back in the swing of things. obvi. not to mention i’m going to get so skinny being on this diet 🙂

8. for the last FIVE years of my life, i’ve found myself in distance relationships. six and a half years total – because i attempted one in my early college years as well. why would i do that to myself??? i don’t know! it just always happens! it’s like i can’t find someone i’m interested in that actually lives in the same state. i got pretty used to the distance thing. but i am so over it now. i want nothing more than to find a decent boy – that makes me happy – that i can actually spend my weekends with. i’m hoping utah will do that for me. dream big, right? my previous wishing holds true.

love, whit

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