Five years ago almost to the day I met a man who would forever change my life for the better. It was only two weeks later that my world view was to be completely and utterly dumped upside down. It was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Because you see, The Adventure Bite isn’t just a catchy blog title. It’s not something that I dreamed up. It’s my whole world.
5 years ago I by God’s grace showed up at a little church’s family camp where the number of people I knew could be counted on a single hand. Desperate for a change, for an answer to my questions, a path to take. Still reeling from the hurt and rejection of a boy and a family who didn’t know how to handle a delicate thing like a girls heart. A recent high school graduate with a horse pulled out of training and put on pasture, no college plans and a seriously confused life.
Oh how two simple perfect weeks can change a life forever.
This rejected and hurt girl was welcomed with open arms by a family who barely knew anything about me and yet loved me unconditionally. Somehow this family and man saw something in me that I couldn’t even seen in myself. Yet I was a girl, just a young unsure, searching girl.
It’s funny how life can seem to boil down to single moments. Single decisions.
It started with what was becoming a fairly common occurrence, Kevin and I and his parents sitting down for dinner together. We were happily chatting along after prayer and started passing food around the table. I was an extremely picky eater so I had already carefully surveyed the table and decided which dishes I would be passing on that evening.
I passed the first dish without taking anything. A look from the man I was quickly falling in love with. No comment. Take a little out of the next dish. Continued the mild chit chat going on at the table.
Pass on the next dish.
A hesitation from him and then it happened…
“You didn’t get any coleslaw.”
“Oh, it’s okay I don’t really care for coleslaw.” Insert cute smile.
“But you have to try an adventure bite….”
“Uhh, it’s okay. I really don’t like coleslaw, I’ve already tried it before.” Insert cute pleading eyes smile.
”I don’t think you understand.”
Pause. Conversation at table completely stops.
“You see…..we’re dating right?”
“Mmmhmm” Umm…where is this going? Are we really having this conversation in front of his parents?!?
“Well….if we keep dating, I plan on marrying you…. And if I marry you, I plan on having kids with you…. And I won’t have my kids being picky eaters……so you’ve either got to start tasting things or we need to break up.”
Wide eyed deer in the headlight stare in disbelief. Finally avert eyes while thinking. Brain screaming.
Oh gees here we go, choose between eating how I like to eat or marrying this guy. Wait what did he say…. he wants to marry me and have babies?!? All I have to do is eat a bite of this stupid coleslaw? He didn’t say I had to enjoy it right? Seriously say something Dani.
Eyes up. Gulp.
“Well I guess I’ll be having some coleslaw then.” Eyebrows raised hesitant half smile.
Met with an insane grin and then quiet knowing smiles from the parents watching the spectacle quietly unfolding in their dining room.
Days. Weeks. Years. How long was it until I realized that this conviction had become the embodiment of our relationship….of our legacy?
While reluctant at first I was in love with this man and so threw myself in headlong into this experience. Curry. Port. Rhubarb. Climbing. Dreaming. Culinary school. Spain. France. Tiramisu. Cherry tomatoes. Hickory. Headlamp proposal. Marriage. Cooking together our whole honeymoon. Loosing jobs. Late night barbecues on the “commune” with my brothers. Whiskey. Lots of whiskey. Those boys only drank whiskey.
Then I realized I wanted to start a blog. A whole year of trying to come up with the perfect name for a food blog.
Pages upon pages of ideas all scratched off . Then the moment. Sitting on our giant green couch in the middle of winter and standing up in triumph crying because it finally fit.
Months of evenings and mornings pouring over HTML and CSS code.
Hiding. Bogged down by perfectionism. So much effort poured into it only to never actually write in it for fear of it not being good enough. Not having the right pictures, the right look. Cancelling the blog hosting.
Moving across the country. Two pink lines. Moving into a crazy run down house to fix. Laboring for 21 hours to meet a little boy who brings joy to our life every moment he is around.
And all the sudden being right back at the blog again. Finally ready for it.
And somehow The Adventure Bite still embodies us. Because its not just a name, its our world.
The Adventure Bite means to push all your fears aside and trying something new. It doesn’t mean you have to like it. But you have to try it. Because really….how will you ever know what you might be missing until you do?
In honor of it being 5 years of this adventure together I’d like to share with you some snapshots. This will eventually be put into part of “our story” here on the blog. Think of it as the Cliff Note’s version of the last 5 years of our life together.
This was my life before Kevin:
I was an obsessive rider and pretty much my whole world was horses, horses, horses. I had gotten completely burned out and pulled my horse out of training just weeks before we met (or rather remet….you can read more about that here). As such Kevin has actually never seen me ride which is mind blowing to me. Once we decided we wanted to get married it became obvious that the only way that we could afford to do that was to sell my horse and trailer to pay off credit cards. It was a hard decision but one that I have never regretted, I know that one day I will be able to have another horse and ride again.
August 2007- Family BBQ: One of our first family BBQ’s
Birthday dinner: September 2007
First attempted meal I cooked for Kevin at my “apartment”:
Culinary School Spring 2008
Gateau Basque. These cakes ruined me for life. It has been my quest ever since to recreate one. All attempts have miserably paled. To be perfected soon.
Profiteroles and chocolate sauce.
A rather terrifying and enlightening meat market.
My first introduction to rabbit.
Coast of France.
Tapas bar hopping.
Cooking class learning how to make Paella.
Chocolate Ice Cream
May 2008: Once I got home from my traveling Kevin decided he had to marry me. He proposed with a head lamp instead of a ring because we actually were going to design the ring ourselves and he didn’t want to carry around a raw sapphire stone.
We got married 3 months later. It was an insane day beforehand but once the wedding started it was so so fun.
This is one of my favorite pictures and pretty much sums up our life perfectly:
Two days after the wedding I went back to work because we couldn’t get time at the place we were going to honeymoon at until a week later. I showed up to work only to find an email in my inbox stating that I had been let go and didn’t need to come into work. Completely humiliated I packed up my bag and rushed out as quickly as possible.
We honeymooned in Pacific City a week later and pretty much spent the whole ten days cooking, eating and watching The History Channel haha. Neither of us had TV growing up or in the home so when we have access to it, its quite distracting for us. Fortunately we both are enthralled by The History Channel and the animal shows like Discovery and Animal Planet.
We ate a bunch of times at the Pelican Brewery and ate some of the best clam chowder I have ever had, and biscuits and gravy with beer in the gravy. Yum.
Once we got home we both had to start job searching. To help perk myself up I decided that chopping all my hair off was a good idea:
We lived in a super cute apartment for a couple months after we got married. I can’t find any photos of it though?
After we got the first heating bill however it wasn’t looking like such a great deal anymore. So we moved into the unfinished manufactured home on my parent’s property AKA “The Commune”. We lived with these crazy folks for the rest of our time in Oregon:
The girls: Bella and Eveleen
And this crazy little dude: Adam. Also known as the older version of Noah.
Oh yes and their parentals:
Katie and Jon (my little brother)
and my older brother Jeremy….and yes I am putting ranch IN the calzone not on top of it. Trust me. It’s good.
Oh and my parent’s too haha:
My mom is never in the pictures because she is always taking them. So I stole this vacation one of them:
New Years 2009:
Once we moved in we pretty much immediately adopted this little lady:
Cocoa. Or as I usually call her cocoa-bean. Or just bean.
She was a terrified little thing. This picture was the first time she let me touch her which was days after we got her home. Orion (my little brother dog) moved in with us for a while to help her realize we wouldn’t capture, kill and eat her. It took Kevin 3 weeks before she would let him touch her.
For the next couple years we worked way too much, often two or three jobs at a time. We always tried to cook together though. There were lots of good meals on Kevin’s end (he was already a pretty awesome cook). Me….not so much. Here are some of the success stories in my journey of learning how to cook:
Chocolate cakes and port for Valentines day.
Chicken corn chowder.
An albino pizza crust:
And our now famous Tomatillo Burrito’s were birthed in this era as well:
Most of our meals were eaten like this:
With an ancient TV on a plastic rolling cart pulled up to our couch to watch a Netflix or on the bed watching multiple episodes of Lost in a row until we passed out. Our schedule for quite a while was to get up at 2-3 a.m. to go clean banks and insurance buildings, then head to work for Apple at 6 a.m. answer phones all day for tech support, get home at 4 or so, eat dinner, watch a movie and fall asleep exhausted. It was not our most ideal work schedule.
In Spring of 2010 we came to a conference at a little church in Georgia with big bugs and lots of green.
We fell in love with the people and the church and were immediately thinking that we might end up moving out to Georgia. We debated back and forth for numerous months and finally decided that it was the right decision for our family.
After we got back home we were on full speed with our desire to garden and start to learn more about homesteading.
First time milking a goat: May 2010
We went on a goat farm tour at a friend of the families and learned a bunch about milking a goat and making cheese. One day we WILL have goats if you have missed the story on how badly I want a goat its worth a read.
And this is me starting way too many seedlings for our garden: Spring 2010
Imagine this x100
I convinced “the commune” to build a garden big enough for all my seedlings.
Kevin’s opinion on my garden aspirations.
The whole front of the house was COVERED in seedlings. We even had beans actually growing up the walls on string. Who knew you weren’t supposed to plant those too early?
Apparently this is how you should plant beans:
Some miscellaneous photos of that season:
Coffee. Oh Oregon how I miss you…
Dad very proud of something. Or just trying to look sexy for the camera.
Did I mention I planted 50 tomato plants? Ummm yeah. I’m sorry family.
Curls in the kitchen.
Before we made the move to Georgia we decided a trip to see Alex (Kevin’s brother) in Seattle was in order.
Some climbing for the guys happened after a nice hike (we couldn’t find anything easy enough for us girls to climb boo!)
These two are thinkers…
Then (and most importantly) we went to Munchen Haus. The best place to eat a sausage in Levenworth, WA.
This place changed my life in 2008. I ate a sausage with mustard (something that would never ever pass my lips) and warm apple cider sauerkraut and about passed out in a food coma it was so utterly amazing. The bite of the stone ground mustard, the sweet and acid from the sauerkraut and the spice in the sausage all wrapped in that amazing bun. It was quite literally one of the best moments of my life.
I had never been to Pike Place so it was definitely in order. We ate piroshki’s. Potato and cheese. Heavenly. We also had these amazing baked asian buns filled with a spicy warm green curry that was insanely delicious. I kick myself on at least a monthly basis that I did not eat a dozen of those on the spot. Instead I shared one with Kevin. Dismal failure.
Cheese. Oh glorious cheese. How did I not know so many of you existed?
Kevin’s a Gouda kinda guy.
That day Gouda won. Let’s just say….it was gouda.
Fall 2010: Send Off Dinner
We said a bunch of teary goodbyes and made a dash for California behind my parents in the middle of a blizzard before the roads were unpassable. We were told we had mere hours to finish packing before the break in the weather would pass and were frantically packing and unpacking our little subaru trying to take only what was absolutely necessary.
We spent a week at my grandparents in California, which was wonderful. These are my grandparents:
They kinda like the Packers can you tell?
What I’m sure you can tell is that they know how to have a good time. They also happen to be the nicest people you will ever meet in your life. My grandma’s also the best cook I know hands down. She is amazing and does it with such ease and confidence that she should be famous. One of these days I’ll have Grandma make her cinnamon rolls with me and you will see.
Move to Georgia: Fall 2010
After we gained 10 lbs off grandma’s good cooking, we packed up and started the drive across the country. Just us, cocoa and our packed to the hilt Subbie.
We saw some amazing stuff on the way.
Road runners actually exist!
After freezing our tooshies off the night before and Kevin throwing his neck out we decided to check into a hotel for the night.
That was a glorious number to see when there was snow on the ground:
Grand Canyon. Words don’t even do these places justice.
We drove through the Painted Desert. All those hills are actual mounds of sand. One huge rainstorm could wash them all away. Take your kids here before they disappear.
After watching an entire weeks worth of Alien “documentaries” at my grandparents house we decided to make a detour to visit Roswell, NM.
Totally authentic as you can see…
We collected stickers at each stop along the way for our roof box.
In effort to find the most authentic mexican food in New Mexico we found the “roach coach” on the street and got some authentic, rich, spicy burritos. I had the verde pork burrito and it was perfectly seasoned, and just gushed in your mouth.
We made our way to the Bottomless Lakes State Park which we were pleasantly surprised by:
We got the best camping spot, absolutely stunning when we pulled in and even more stunning when the ducks came out in the morning.
We made quick friends with our neighboring insane tent camping couple Melissa and Dave. After dinner we huddled in their tent with a heater, a bottle of homemade blackberry liquor, and a case of pickled banana peppers and crackers. It was a great night.
The next day we all decided to head to Carlsbad Caverns for the day. The drive was impressive.
But it was nothing compared to inside.
We actually lingered with our new friends for an additional day and then decided we were cold and tired of camping and wanted to get to Georgia. We basically drove all the way through from New Mexico to Georgia as fast as possible. Stopping only for pee breaks and to rest a few hours. We arrived happy and hungry and settled into our newest adventure:
An airstream trailer.
We had no jobs or prospects so a friend we’d met from the church offered to let us stay in their airstream while we got our feet under ourselves. It was quite the experience when we woke up the following month to this:
Kevin got hired at Be In Health the next week and a few months later we moved into our current crazy fixer upper rental house. All the while I got bigger.
Until I finally popped!
And Kevin almost popped:
And then we met him:
All 7 lbs 6 oz of sweet precious perfectness.
Our biggest adventure yet.
The sweetest boy two crazy people like us could have ever asked for.
And the rest of that adventure will have to wait for another day…