24 February, 2011

Up where they walk, Up where they run, Up where they stay all day in the sun

It's the final countdown!

I just finished the last two mile run with the girls.  We went back to the place we did our first training run back in November (pre-ankle situation).  Rosemary even brought Sadie.  As we ran (and walked) we remincided over the last three months: where we were physically and mentally going in to the race and where we are now.

It's so great to look back and see the dramatic change for the better.  Katie and Rosemary looks great - super skinny these days.  And I can boast some really strong ankles and good looking calves :)  As for Amanda, well, she has some screws in her twist and has traded her cast for a splint.  Anxious to see how Caitlin is doing!

When we arrived at the river to do our last run, we were all gleaming with the little treats we'd picked out for each other for the weekend.



Rosemary had our running shirts that we had made for us, along with Epcot passports, Clif bars, and a Disney Princess CD for the car.  I found Princess Silly Bandz.  Katie had matching bandanas for us.  Also, not pictured, are the pink 13.1 bumper stickers for our cars (the real reason we're all doing this!) and hair bands that Rosemary included in her treat box.

Well, folks, it's time for me to pack my bags.  Amanda's plane lands in an hour and a half.  Katie should be here late tonight.  Sleep over!!!!!

Sweetwater

While I work for the church running the middle school youth group, Eric volunteers for the high school youth group.  They usually have planning meetings on Wednesday nights, but one Wednesday a month is dedicated to the adult volunteers socializing.  Eric has stepped up and coordinates most of the activities.  We usually share a meal, but sometimes it involves an activity. For example, last month, we went out to dinner and played trivia.  We won second place and therefore won some housecash.  In turn, we "raffled" off the housecash to one person at the table for them to use on a date night or another fun return trip.

Last night we went to Sweetwater Brewing Company in south Buckhead. This was perfect for me since I had the Foursquare special which Eric and I both used. Two WHOLE dollars off our night!

Pardon this blog post for this commercial interruption (no I don't get a kick back, I just love foursquare that much):
Click to add Sweetwater to your Foursquare to do list   Look at me all techie and nerdy.

So the crew met for drinks and the brewery tour.  Fun and relaxing as usual.  The weather was PERFECT so we enjoyed a good hour on the patio soaking up good conversation and drinking up delicious libations.

Eric and the laaaaaaadies: Liz, Me, Eric, Natalie, Mandi

the newly expanded patio


And then we went back to Buckhead to meet the rest of the crew for dinner.  The Sweetwater "tours" are from 5:30-7:30 which is very difficult for those who work in north Alpharetta to make it there on time.  Hence why the two youth ministers, the SAHM and the nurse..along with my husband who can never miss a party...were the only ones who made it to Sweetwater.

Ten of us met for dinner at Varasanos.  While I'm throwing around Foursquare links, here you go:   We split three salads, five specialty pizzas (including my favorite, which included arguala and lemon), our two free desserts (thanks to foursquare), and two fried doughs.  Very delicious Italian style pizzas, salads, and desserts.  Clean and fresh tasting.  Love it!  Excellent conversations were both lively and deep, helping us learn so much about each other, which is the whole purpose of these nights.  And before we knew it, it was 10:30! And we still had to drive back to Alpharetta...

Such a fun night out with this crew.  I am so thankful they include me as I love getting to know them.

22 February, 2011

A little R & R

President's Day Weekend.

Possibly my favorite holiday of the year.  Why?  Because January is filled with holiday anticipation letdown.  Oct-Jan 1 are filled with four over-the-top holidays.  Each with their unique decadent dishes and cocktails.  Some with gifts.  Others with an abundance of parties.

But President's Day?

It comes when you're not looking.  No fanfare. No desserts.  No decorations.  No black dresses. But a whole day.  Yes, a whole day off from work that is not used to shop or bake.  A whole day off to DO. NOTHING.  Amen.

How'd we spend our President's Day weekend?

We had tons of plans going into the weekend.  We were supposed to meet friends for celebratory drinks on Friday night.  I had a bit of a head cold so I stayed home to catch up on my shows, but Eric still went out.  We were also invited to do a few different things Monday night, but we canceled all of them so we could have dinner together at home and to go see Alex's new house.

(this is not my photo. i found it on google image)
What did we do in between?  Well, Saturday we slept in.  Until 10.  We slept 11 hours each.  AMAZING! Had a lingering breakfast. Played Words with Friends (which is now on Android!!!!).  We took the top off the Jeep.  Got Mr. Taco take-out and went exploring at Morgan Falls Dam.  There is a new park there, so we picnicked in the grass over looking the river and then went for a hike in the woods.  Somewhere during the hike Mr. Taco took a turn for the worse.  I spent the rest of the day, um, "unavoidably detained"  The night concluded with the documentary Tapped on Netflix and cookies and pizza rolls for dinner.  Eh.

Sunday was slammed with Mass in Sandy Springs, Five Guys, Trader Joes and REI.  Talk about an awesome Sunday morning!  We went straight to Saint Brigid to help everyone set up for the Life Night.  I did not have EDGE due to the long weekend (the middle school kids seem to have a different schedule because they're at the mercy of their parents, so I canceled). It was fun to hang out with everyone and not have the pressures of running my own night.  Eric asked for the rest of the night off from volunteering for the youth group and we headed over to my parents house for a Canasta Tournament.

(My family has a rite of passage, if you will, of learning to play Canasta.  One quiet summer afternoon, my grandmother will take you aside and teach you how to play.  After that day, it's game on. You better hold your own. Bring. It. On.)

We usually play tournaments on Thanksgiving Day.  Yes, $5 buy in, marker board, brackets and trophy included.  But this Thanksgiving we weren't together, so this Sunday we played our rounds and mixed in salads, chili, cornbread, red wine and desserts.  I lost in the first round. I had to play the Queen Bee herself, Nannie, our grandmother. Who can compete with that?  Eric lost in the first round as well.  Katie and Sam each went on to the second round, where Sam had to face my Dad.  Sam is an incredible card player...he had my dad sweating bullets, but alas, Dad pulled through!  Alex's new girlfriend came over and she picked up the game just from watching! She might be a keeper ;-)  Alex and my dad went on to play each other in the final round. Because it was so late they agreed on a sudden-death one-hand match.  And in minutes, Alex became the new champion. $60 and the winning discard to put on the trophy. Way to go!


I hope you had a fantastically restful President's Day too :)

20 February, 2011

Baking with Betty: Dunwoody Dip

You're probably asking yourself, what is Dunwoody Dip? And it's a great question! It's easy to make. Melty. Cheesy. Meaty. A little bit spicy. And everyone LOVES it!  The origin, though, it's a more difficult to nail down.  My grandmother, who is from Dunwoody, Ga, actually heard about this dip when she was visiting friends in Denver.  Urban legend has it that some guy brought the dip to a party in Denver and when prompted for a name he stalled and said "Dunwoody Dip." Because, apparently he was from Dunwoody.   Who really knows?

All I do know, is that this dip is yummy, very easy to make, and is always the first gone at a party or family get together.  Also, Eric might have married me because of this...


Dunwoody Dip

Ingredients:
Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes Hot, 10-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
  • One tube of Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage
  • Two cans of Rotel Tomatoes - Hot
  • Two bars of Cream Cheese
  • Big bag of Fritos Scoops




Directions:
    Pyrex Grip-Rite 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish Clear
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium-ish heat, brown the sausage.  Drain.  Return to pan.
  3. Add cream cheese and Rotel.  Stirring and breaking up cream cheese until the cream cheese is completely melted and the ingredients are well mixed.
  4. Pour into a medium sized baking dish.  Bake uncovered until it bubbles around the edges.  About 25-40 minutes (depending on your oven & baking dish).

Tips & Variations:

Sausage:
I often use reduced fat or sodium sausage in lieu of the "hot".  You can also experiment with the maple or other favors.  Also, to keep the fat content down, I rinse the sausage with hot water as I'm draining off the grease.

Cream Cheese:
I've found that brand name or store brand cream cheese work equally as well.  I often use the store brand to keep the costs down.  I also always use the 1/3 less fat.  I don't recommend the fat free.  I haven't tried any flavored cream cheese.  The chive one might be nice!

Rotel:
I don't care for spicy foods, so I usually pick either hot sausage or hot Rotel, not both.  And some grocery stores don't carry all the varieties of Rotel.  Get what you can and/or what your taste buds can tolerate.

Chips:
Your choice of party scoops!  I like Tositos Baked Scoops.  I've even been known to eat it with celery sticks.  And I'm tempted to put it on a grilled cheese.

To bring to parties:
It's best hot.  If I am going to a party where the dish won't be served right away, I mix the ingredients on the stove top and put them in the baking dish, but don't bake it.  I'll take it to the party and throw it in the oven about 20-30 minutes before snack time.  I like this method better than reheating the already baked dip.



Happy Dipping :)



18 February, 2011

We drove all the way from Atlanta for this....

Wednesday, the one and only Rosemary Walsh and I drove from the A-T-L all the way to Charlotte, North Carolina for.... a sandwich, a bird garden, a beer, a burger and a basketball game.


Lunch at Dean & Deluca


They make a darn good sandwich.  And chocolate.  Yum!  We split two deli sandwiches, each had a Strawberry Lemonade and then treated ourselves to a few chocolates.  Don't mind if I do.


Wing Haven Gardens




St Therese "the Little Flower" how fitting :)
The home and garden was in the middle of a suburb in Charlotte.  We walked in some lady's backyard.  The story of the home and the garden was incredible.  This woman cultivated three acres with literally nothing on it, turn the street into a bird haven and beautiful prayer garden.  She has since passed and the facility requires two full time gardeners and over a hundred volunteers to keep it running as beautiful as she did.  Can you imagine the joyful labor she spent?

Taco Mac - Charlotte




The wait staff at Taco Mac was less than amused with our announcing, "We drove all the way from Atlanta for this beer!" Granted it was 3:40 in the afternoon on a Wednesday.  We tried to explain that Taco Mac is kind of a big deal in Atlanta...and that our Brewniversity lists are kind of long.  At least try to be impressed, okay, buddy?  Pictured is Foothills Sexual Chocolate.  Picked out for us via text message by none other than the Mayor of The Fred himself, Sean Ellis. Delicious.

The Penguin Drive-In








I think the pictures say it all, y'all.  Except: we stuffed our faces with our queso smothered burgers too fast to even get a picture of them.  Let's just say I might drive another 4 hours to get one. Did you read the names of the Hot Dogs?  "I can hear you getting fatter" ?!?!  Yes, you did.


The University of Dayton 
vs 
The University of North Carolina Charlotte
A-10 Basketball Game









Since we literally had to roll ourselves from the Penguin to UNCC, Rosemary and I walked around campus for at least 30 minutes.  Campus was beautiful.  New, but beautiful. And huge (compared to our private Catholic colleges).  The arena was one of the nicest athletic complexes I have ever been to.  Good pre-game entertainment.  Great facility.  (Lots of bathrooms).  A Chick-fil-a Blimp that passes out gift cards. Yummy concessions (not that we had any. okay, maybe we did).  And the best part......

The Flyers brought home a big fat WIN!  Love it!  The boys certainly aren't having their best year, but there is potential for some good hoops coming our way in the next season or two.

And yes, this is the REAL reason "We drove all the way from Atlanta!"

Go Flyers.

1 Question Fridays: Why Eric Bikes (to work)


I don't just ride my bike to work, I ride it to the farmer's market, grocery, church, and even an air show.  I'm not sure where to start with why I ride my bike so much.

Maybe I should go with environmental reasons because being "green" is certainly in right now.  I hate the term "green" and that it is trendy.  Forget that!  I believe I have a responsibility to respect God's creation and I don't think pollution is a great way to hallow God.  I'm going to stop here before I get too negative.

I should probably have started with economic reasons (seriously is anyone seeing a trend with these Friday question posts).  Because I bike to work and all of those other places, we have been able to lower our car insurance to the lowest mileage per year insurance.  While that is certainly part of it, we have been able to save more by saving about a tank of gas per month.  With gas prices climbing, that adds up to some good money.

Georgia Southern Sprint Triathlon T1

Georgia Southern Sprint Tri Bike Course

I could have started in chronological order and told you the first reason that I started biking first.  Biking is a great way to stay in shape. I didn't start out riding to and from work, but just doing exercise rides.  Then I figured, if I'm biking anyway I might as well be productive (go figure, me, productive).  That started trips to the farmer's market and then to work.

As I did those more regularly, I purchased an old touring bike from my boss and began fixing it up with parts from my racing bike.  Once I rebuilt the "new" bike, I sold the "old" bike and components to recoup all of the costs.  Doing all of the work by myself forced me to learn to maintain the bike, saving us more money, not just in the transition, but by with never ending free maintenance.  How many of you can maintain your mode of transportation all by yourself?

Lastly, I love to experience the world with all of my senses.  On a bike you are exposed to the elements whether it be beautiful spring weather, torrential downpours, bitter cold, or a nice breeze on a sweltering day.  You smell the BBQ or french fries as you pass restaurants and just how damaging automobiles are for the environment.  You take in the beauty of mountain vistas or the unseen surprises that are so easy to pass in a car.  You can hear the squawking of birds, the roar of traffic, or nothing at all.  You can even taste the air whether that be those french fries or the exhaust of a truck or the new dew of spring or the dirt flung up by the car or biker in front of you.

Enjoy your ride!

15 February, 2011

Miscellany Monday/Loveday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

I have been wanting to participate in *miscellany monday* for a few weeks but never had much to say.  Carissa's post was all about Valentine's Day.  I thought I would post a few bits of my Valentine's day too.

The Weather

Has it not been gorgeous outside, Atlantians?  The day time weather has been almost pushing 60.  Which, in my book, it's warm enough to open the door for a half an hour and let fresh air in the house.  It's warm enough to wear a skirt and tights.  It's warm enough to crack the windows in the car on the commute home.

And the skies are blue.  Clear, blue.

My Joyfulstar Etsy Jewelry 

The owner of this shop is my dear friend Ashley over at OurLittleApartment.  She and I went to college together.  She lives in Ohio with her husband and little baby with precious rolls, named Gabe.  Ashley not only does awesome graphic work (she designed our wedding invitations) but she makes cute earrings, bags, and coffee sleeves.  I get compliments on these earrings all the time (I have them in two colors), and on my coffee sleeve (which lives in my purse).  

But the best part of my Monday / Loveday was that I discovered the little ring she had tucked in my Etsy order from her shop.  It matches the earrings and was the perfect warm red for Valentine's Day. 





My Prankster Valentine

Anyone who knows me pretty well knows that one of the priests at our parish LOVES to play pranks on the office staff me.  Nothing to serious, but usually enough to get my heart racing.  Well, instead of finding his junk mail or trash in my purse as per usual, for Valentine's Day he left me a little chocolate heart.  And then came by my desk multiple times to say, "Don't say I never did anything nice for you"  

Honestly, I think he was looking for a ride to Starbucks ;-)


The Best (Dinner) Date

Eric was gone all weekend on a Men's Retreat, so we needed to play catch up on the last few days, but I also wanted to hear all about the weekend.  And, Sunday night's homily at Mass was about marriage and spending spiritual dates together.  Basically Fr. D said that all too often couples schedule time to talk about money, the kids, watch TV together, etc Instead, he challenged us to spend time together (scheduled if we need to!) to talk about where we are in our faith life and on our spiritual journey.

So Sunday night we decided that for Valentine's Day we'd make a healthy and yummy dinner and spend the evening sharing about the retreat and where we are in our faith lives.  Honestly, this is one of the most romantic dates we have in a long time.  I love it when we can be open and bare our souls to one another. It's what we were made to do, we just fail to do sometimes.  PS: I love my husband!  



Our dinner turned out mighty tasty too.  We had Eggs Benedict Salad and "Cream" of Broccoli Soup. Both from scratch. Both from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook: Primal, Low Carb, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free (and the winner of the longest cookbook title in the history of the world goes to.....)  Yum!





Happy Monday Valentine's Day!

13 February, 2011

SHUT HER DOWN!

I had a nice little Saturday. I mean, who doesn't start their day cheering for a 10k and end it by going to Monster Jam 2011? C'mon.

First of all, yesterday was one of the prettiest days we've seen in Atlanta in a while.  I do believe it was 55 and sunny. Mmm, Spring is in the air. Right? ?!?!


Katie and Rosemary ran the Chattahoochee Nature Center 10k along the 'hooch in Roswell.  The course was no more than three miles from Eric and I's place, so I met the girls to cheer them on.  They CRUSHED their goal times by several minutes.  I mean seriously, these girls dominated!  Just two weeks until Disney, and they are SO ready.






We finished the morning with some yummy French press coffee, French Toast, and BACON! Mmmm
Aren't my pink polka dot PJs cute?





The rest of my afternoon spent catching up on computer work for my on-line class, icing my ankle (I failed to mention the parking lot, packet pick up, and start line were a good 2 miles round trip), and picking out my outfit for....

MaMaMa-MOoooooooNnnSTeeeeeeeeeER JAAAAaaaaaaaMmmmmmmm

I always had some secret desire to go to Monster Jam and last year my dream came true.  We went with some of Eric's friends and yes, it was everything I dreamt of and more!  So this year, I asked Eric if we could go again.  And he surprised me with tickets for Christmas.  Amazing, I know.  The tickets included a group of friends to go with us as well.  Unfortunately (or fortunately for the Falcons), the Falcons made it to the play offs and the original date for Monster Jam was postponed to this weekend when Eric was out of down. While that meant Eric couldn't go, Sam could go in his place.

The group of us dressed up in redneck-ish attire and tailgated (off a BMW) in the parking garage. The crew drank some classy Natural Light, Four Loko, and Mike Harder Fruit Punch (in a can!) and chowed down on Publix subs, chips and salsa, and marble cookies.  Off we went to the Dome for


MaMaMa-MOoooooooNnnSTeeeeeeeeeER JAAAAaaaaaaaMmmmmmmm

The lap races (they go over those little ramps & do two laps)

I believe this is Iron Man (Iiiirrrrrrooonnn Maaaaannnnn) after crashing in the freestyle portion


The show was pretty good, but I was disappointed that the trucks kept shutting down.  Not a mechanical failure, but rather the computers in the trucks would reboot (lame).  But this resulted in every post-run interview to sound something like the Brian Regan bit where he says, "And If I couldn't do that...I was going to have to shut her down" "Of course you were going to have to shut her down! What options did you have?!?!"  

Oh yes, I've included this for your listening pleasure (please ignore the random cartoons)






So of course we kept yelling "SHUT HER DOWN".  Classy.

The night concluded with us post-tailgating with DeerPark water and cheddar popcorn, before we tackled traffic (of course, it's always a good idea to schedule something at the Convention Center, Philipps arena AND the Dome at the same time, Atlanta) and then headed to the Fred.  Yes, We went to the Fred dressed like this: