Monday, December 31, 2012

13 for 2013

As I'm sitting at the beach staring at the beautiful water I'm so excited to start a new year and really make it count.  I can't remember one time in my life where I really set New Year's resolutions I intended to stick to but this will be the year.  My life is so much more settled now that grad school is over and I feel like it's finally time to accomplish some things that aren't school related.  

Here are my 13 goals for 2013.

1. Do cardio 4 times per week.  
2.  Strength training 3 times per week.  
3.  Abs 2 times per week.  
4.  Take 1 class at the gym per week.
5.  Have 1 date night per week.
6.  Do 1 special activity with Dan per month (e.g. trip, horseback riding, etc)
7.  Complete 1 Pinterest project per week (and link it up with Katie & Stephanie!)
8.  Read my Bible for 20 minutes per day.
9.  Cook at home 5 nights per week.
10.  Take Lucy to the dog park at least once per week.
11.  Blog 3 times per week.
12.  Complete 10 things from my 30 before 30 list.
13.  Participate in Meatless Mondays.  

I'll check back in at the end of each month to see how I've done with my goals and get back on track if need be. 

For now I'm ready to say farewell to 2012 grilling by the water with some great friends.  

See you next year!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jalapeno Poppers

A popular tailgate staple at our games is bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers.  I first got the recipe from a coworker after my dad's that made them for an office party.  My dad liked them so much he had my mom make them, and given her extreme allergies she ended up in the emergency room.  

Don't let that scare you away from making them though-I make them all of the time, I just wear gloves and I've never had a bad reaction.  
And they are always a crowd pleaser. 

I don't know what I did with the original recipe and I think it was a Pioneer Woman recipe, but I just go without some of the ingredients I can't remember and they're still tasty.

What You'll Need:
1 block cream cheese
1 package finely shredded cheddar cheese
16 jalapenos
1 package bacon
BBQ sauce (I prefer John Boy & Billy's)

1.  Put the cream cheese and cheddar cheese in a bowl and leave out to soften.
2. WEARING GLOVES, use a knife and spoon to scoop out all of the membranes/seeds.  If you like a little kick leave a few seeds thrown in here and there, but be careful-1 seed alone packs quite a kick!


3.  Once soft, stir together the cream cheese and cheese and spoon into the jalapeno shells.

4.  Cut bacon strips in 1/2 and wrap around the jalapeno.


5.  Brush with BBQ sauce (or don't-I was making these at 6:45 am this past weekend and forgot the BBQ sauce and they were still good). 

6.  Bake at 350 until the bacon looks crispy (about 30-40 minutes).



Enjoy!!



Monday, October 29, 2012

What. A. Game

Tropical Storm Sandy was not going to keep us away from the Carolina-State game this year and the game did not disappoint!


We were a mixed crowd, with some Carolina fans, some State fans and some that couldn't decide.  Notice all of the combo-colored/neutral colored outfits?

Although the weather was cloudy and windy-the kind of windy that comes from all directions and leaves all sorts of tangles in your hair-the rain held off and we didn't feel a drop throughout the entire game.  


And what a game it was!
It stayed close the entire game, and after Carolina tied it with a field goal with about a minute left then managed to force State to punt it looked like we'd be heading to overtime.
And then Giovani Bernard returned the punt 74 yards to score a touchdown. 

It was amazing.

I've never liked attending games and not cheering for the home team and that game is why.  There's nothing like jumping up and down in excitement along with an entire stadium of fans, high-fiving strangers and belting out the fight song.  It's why fans attend games.  

And when it all comes together, it's so stinking fun.   



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Activities

This past weekend we didn't attend the Carolina-Duke game for the first time I can remember (maybe why they lost for the 2nd time in my lifetime?), so instead we decided to cram all of the fall activities we could into one weekend. 

After grilling some delicious food and enjoying the weather Friday night, Saturday we met my sister, her boyfriend and our neighbor Christopher at the Clayton Fear Farm (minus the fear for daytime goers).  Dan picked on us for being the only ones over 12 but without kids of their own that wanted to do every activity but I say kids know what's up in the having fun department.  We took a hayride, went through a 3-D house, jumped on a pillow thing (not sure what you should call it?) and climbed around on a rope spider web before hitting the main attractions-the corn maze and pumpkin patch.

 The corn maze was 5 acres of amazingness.  I'm so impressed by the design they were able to do, which said Count on Chris (local meteorologist) and had the abc logo.  We had fun just wandering aroud it and weren't too worried about how long it took to find our way out, but we did run across a mother with a toddler desperate for one of our maps.  

A little Forrest Gump re-enactment..."dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far, far away from here"
After making it out we set out to find the perfect pumpkins and cut them off the vine ourselves.  This was a first for me, and I have to say I prefer the stems dried up rather than green and filled with water.
Sunday after church we went to Dan's parents house for a Halloween brunch and to carve pumpkins.  We didn't think to grab stencils or anything so we went for a simply silly Jack-o-Lantern face.  Dan's brother got it into his head to do a Ducks Unlimited pumpkin, and it turned out pretty neat!


To finish up the weekend in Halloween spirit, I made mummy cupcakes for Dan to take to work for a Relay for Life bake sale, idea courtesy of pinterest.  All in all a good start to fall, minus fall weather.  Don't let our fall clothes in the picture fool you, we were sweating like crazy.  All part of the experience. 




Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Happenings

Fall is trying to make an appearance around here, but I can't say today's rainy, cold weather was the start of fall we've been waiting for.  

October for our family always kicks off with Elizapalooza, my sister's birthday that shuts down the federal government.  We have honey baked ham, dressing, green beans, sweet potato biscuits...pretty much Thanksgiving dinner.  It's warm-up for the real thing, I guess.  



This year I tried making the dressing from the "recipe" entitled "Grandmama and Eva's Stuffing-for Thanksgiving or Christmas".  I call it a "recipe" because it was really just guidelines, with an ingredient list that included "regular ole biscuits", "1/2 stick of butter (but probably more)", "a lot of chicken broth" and "A LOT of pepper" and ended with "cook until hot".  Surprisingly, it received good reviews so I must have gotten somewhat close.

Our neighbor also got my sister the coolest cake ever.  Pippa is obsessed with painting her nails.  Obsessed.  When she sees me she names what color nail polish I'm wearing.  You know, because all normal people can do that.  Her boyfriend has even made her a set of shelves the size of nail polish bottles for her wall.  So, enter the perfect cake for Pippa.


Later that week we met up with our favorite world travelers to have dinner while they were in town in between ending their season in Vancouver (by winning the championship!) and leaving for winter season in Australia.  Rough life for manager of the year :-)

     
And then I made these bad boys.


Reese's Pieces Cookie Cupcakes. (recipe found here)
You should probably go make some right now.  
Then hop a treadmill because you'll eat the whole batch.  



Monday, September 24, 2012

Priceless Gem

Did this Monday seem to drag on more so than usual for everyone, or just me?
It didn't help that the day started off with Lucy throwing up in our bed at 1am.  She acted so sad and pitiful it was hard to be mad at her, but it was also hard to get much sleep afterwards.  

I can't complain about the weekend though, since it was the first Carolina tailgate of the season!
It was so nice that they had several away games to start the season off so when we finally did get to some home games it was not so incredibly hot.  

This game was also nice because the ECU game is one of the few my brother goes to every year. 


My sister also made the best mini cheesecakes with little Oreos and Nilla wafers on the bottom that I can't wait to try out myself.  {recipe found here}


And now I have some fall premieres that are calling my name.  





Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Brad Paisley Adventure

A few weeks ago Dan and I went to a Brad Paisley concert with my sister, her boyfriend and some neighbors.
(Yes, a few weeks ago.  I've been busy.  Or lazy.)

If you haven't seen Brad Paisley in concert, or been to a country concert in general, you should give it a try, even if you're not a country music fan.  I've been to concerts of all different genres (even including 50 cent) and country concerts are by far the best.  Dan even left wanting to listen to some country stations for a few days afterwards and has made a few Brad Paisley requests on the ipad since then.  




What you shouldn't do is lock your keys in the car.  Especially with your tickets inside.

A few things we learned were:

1.  A Lexus is just about impossible to break in to.  The policeman said we'd have been able to break in to my car with no trouble.  (fun fact: he also said cop cars are by far the easiest to get into)
2.  My sister's boyfriend knows way too much about breaking in to things.  One of the policemen asked my sister what she was doing with him.  
3.  The guys riding around on bikes are paramedics, not police.  But they will radio a police car with the tool needed (a Slimjim) and come spend an hour helping them get in to your car. 
4.  Just because you're surrounded by rednecks in big trucks does not mean those trucks hold any tools that would be useful.
5.  Nice policemen will give you rides to your locked car after you track them down, but your parents might not immediately assume a picture of their daughter in a cop car with the caption "We have some news..." is a joke.  We got a panicked phone call halfway through the concert.  

  
It took 2 policemen, 2 paramedics, my sister's boyfriend and his criminal knowledge, 3 coathangers, a Slimjim and a pair of scissors over an hour to get into the car.
We were legit thinking of breaking a window and calling it a night just before they pulled it off.  We'd even looked up which window was the cheapest to replace.  (FYI it's not the little ones in the back-those are surprisingly expensive) 

Then I promptly took Christopher's keys from him and didn't return them until the end of the night.  He obviously can't be trusted.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fantasy Football

I'm a big fan of college football, but professional football has never been very interesting to me.  I don't know the players, I don't feel strongly about a certain team, and frankly, I'm tired of football before Sunday rolls around.  Dan, on the other hand, is not that interested in college football but loves watching NFL games.  
And playing fantasy football.  

His obsession with "making his picks" gets to be a tad annoying say, when we're out to lunch and he realizes he hasn't set his lineup and games are about to start so we have to rush home rightthisminute.

Then we have to have track games via the TV, computer and both cell phones.  
Can't miss a minute
Familiar with the Red Zone channel?
You bet we are.  

This year I felt like I might be a little less annoyed by Sunday football obsession if I had some sort of stake in what was going on. 
So, I joined the dark side and created my very own fantasy football team.  

I had very strict rules for who got drafted to my team. 
While Dan was reading injury reports and pouring over stats I was looking for who played at Carolina or dated a celebrity I liked.  Mainly since those were the only familiar names to me.  

They also had to be good people.  
Michael Vick making my team?  Not a chance. 
Cheated on your pregnant wife? Nope.


During the draft there's an open chat with everyone in the league.  
I may have gotten picked for some of my choices.  
Especially by one guy in particular with a very vulgar screen name. 
This past week was the week our teams played each other...


147
57
ACA
Yet to Play:
In Play:
Mins Left:
Proj Total:
Line:
Top Scorer:
0
0
0
147
-22
R. Bush 31
MB
Yet to Play:
In Play:
Mins Left:
Proj Total:
Line:
Top Scorer:
0
0
0
57
+22
L. McCoy 12





Friday, August 31, 2012

Seattle

The last day of our honeymoon adventure was spent exploring Seattle.  To be honest, by this point we were starting run out of steam and as we drug our sore, tired feet all over we wistfully talked of cudding in bed with Lucy and Linus.  We didn't let it stop us from seeing the places we wanted to see, though.  

One of the first stops on our list was the brand new ferris wheel that had just opened the week before--2nd largest in the US, 3rd largest in the world.  I had already been on the London Eye (1st largest) and the 2nd largest is just down the road in Myrtle Beach (this was news to me), so you best believe I was going to be on that bad boy.  Dan only slightly complained about the 45 minute wait (he should have been there for the hours I waited for the London Eye).  


We then spent the afternoon exploring the waterfront area, Pike Place Fish Market and the gum wall.  We also may have spent a good 20 minutes staring at a fountain with a little boy reaching his hands up that a lady swore up and down to us was going to switch to the father doing the same thing any. minute. now.  She was sooo sure about it we waited for awhile (and a few others joined us) afraid to take our eyes off of it for FOMO (fear of missing out for those of you who don't know about Scott Disick).  After awhile I began to doubt her story and asked her how she knew such a thing was about to happen.  "Well, I just happened to see it switch when I first walked up here so it must happen every 10-20 minutes or so".  A quick google search confirmed it happens once an hour.  It's called Father and Son fountain in Olympic Park, fyi, but I wouldn't stand there for an hour to see it change...


Our last big activity of the day was the Bill Speidel's Underground tour-a super touristy activity, but interesting story nonetheless.  I most definitely went home with the book as well (banned by the Seattle Public Schools and once the most stolen book from the library).  Fun fact (that I actually learned prior to the tour when 4th grade at my school was doing their inventions unit): Sir Thomas Crapper invented the flushing toilet, thus adding the word "crap" to the English language.  What I didn't learn until this trip was the many problems Seattle had that centered around some major plumbing issues, eventually leading them to have to build a new city on top of the current city.  That original town is now Seattle's underground and part of it is open for tours.  Our tour guide moonlighted as an Elvis impersonator and we absolutely loved him and were hooked on the story of Seattle's underground history.  Turns out prostitution played a major role in funding the city's education as well.  I'm going back there in February and fully intend to do the Prohibition version of the tour. 

We know we didn't do the traditional, relaxing honeymoon but at least once a day we said to each other "I'm so glad we did this".  It was a blast and I'm so glad we shared such an amazing trip together.  We're thinking we should complete yearly road trips.  






Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grouse Mountain

How sad is it we've been home from our honeymoon for almost 2 months and I'm still working on the recap? 

We spent our last day in Canada at Grouse Mountain, about 20 minutes from Vancouver.  To get to the top you can either do the Grouse Grind (a grueling hike we did not do...) or take the Sky Ride up.  Once there we enjoyed the breathtaking views, ziplines, a lumberjack show, wind turbine, a bird show and wildlife. 

We started with the ziplines, which was an item from my 30 before 30 list we decided to tackle during the trip.  Everyone had told me beforehand it wasn't scary but I had a hard time picturing how that could be possible.  Standing in line waiting for the sky ride to take us up the family behind us was talking about their ziplining plans when the father saw the sign advertising ziplining "soar over 1200 meters above the ground at speeds up to 80 km/hour" and turned to his sons saying "wait a minute-you didn't mention all of that!"  Dan and I both agreed it was a major highlight of the trip and before we even left Vancouver he was googling for places to zipline close to home.  



After the thrill of the ziplines we headed to the Eye of the Wind, a working wind turbine with an observation deck to enjoy even more spectacular views before catching the lumberjack show.  The show was definitely a scripted tourist type show, but they were very entertaining and the skills they showed off were amazing.  We were especially impressed by the race to the top of the tall posts-I found myself holding my breath for fear of them falling off!  One guy came all the way down in under 2 seconds and I at first thought he'd legit fallen down it he was moving so fast.  



If you're ever in the Vancouver area I highly, highly recommend a trip to Grouse Mountain--and plan to be there all day, there's so much to do. 

On the way back we passed the Capilano Suspension bridge and when the bus driver asked if anyone wanted to hop off we on a whim took him up on the offer, and I'm glad we did.  The main attraction of course was the suspension bridge but there were also other bridges to explore and cliff walks that were amazing.  Walking across the suspension bridge was definitely an experience-especially since so many other people were on it at the same time so it was swaying like crazy.  Dan had a really tough time and would not let go of the ropes (with both hands!).  I, on the other hand, wanted to cross it over and over again.  



I have to say Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been and we are so glad we chose it as our main destination.  We went to bed every night with the sliding glass door open unable to take our eyes off of the lights over the mountains and water saying to each other "wow" over and over again.  


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Harvey's & Vancouver Zoo

I'm back from the beach but already packed to leave for the next beach trip as soon as I finish this post. At this rate I'll never finish the honeymoon recap!

Wednesday morning after donuts from Tim Horton's we set off on a little bit of a misguided adventure...
We're huge How I Met Your Mother Fans and get a lot of laughs out of all the Canadian jokes made at Robin's expense.  One of our favorites is when Robin talks about collecting Harvey's trays, which of course no one has heard of before. 

"You're cruising down the Trans-Canada highway and you get a hunger on between Milverton and WaWa, where you gonna strap on a feed bag, huh? Harvey's-over 12,000 served!"

Naturally, we got it in our heads we absolutely had to find a Harvey's.  There was one Dan assured me was really close by...we'd just walk 20 minutes, take a train, then walk about 10 blocks.  
Sure, sign me up. 
After walking for about 30 minutes down a 5 lane road we stopped at a hotel and asked how close we were...they told us there was no Harvey's.  
We walked another 20 minutes and asked a girl at a bus stop, who said yes there's a Harvey's but she wouldn't walk there, it's a long ways...  
So, of course we kept going and walked another 20 minutes or so before we finally found it inside a Home Depot.  
Crazy or committed? 
I guess I should mention Harvey's is a fast food restaurant that sells burgers...not unlike McDonald's...


After lunch we took a cab back into Vancouver to head to the Vancouver Zoo, which I think I'd say tops the list of zoos I've been to.  They featured animals local to the area so it was really neat to see animals we'd never seen before.  For example, the dolphins were pacific white-sided dolphins and they are amazingly fast.  The dolphin, sea lion and beluga shows were the highlight of the zoo, and of course I always love to see the penguins.  


After enjoying the zoo for awhile we headed to meet our group for the beluga whale experience we'd signed up for.  This was one of the coolest things I've ever done.  Along with another couple we got an in depth lesson on beluga including a tour through the kitchen and veterinary areas to see how they do the training, feeding and medical care within the zoo.  Then, we suited up in boots and life jackets and headed out to be a part of one of the beluga shows.  We accompanied a trainer who let us get up close and personal with one of the belugas, Quila.  She is the first beluga to be born into captivity (we watched the video of her birth too!) and has therefore spent her whole life around trainers and seems to love the attention.  We got to feel what her skin is like (cold! and very soft and cushy) and do some training with her.  To end the experience we chose whether we wanted her to splash us with her tail or spit water on us.  Dan and I went for the water spit, but the other couple chose the tail splash.  I wish I had their picture, it was an extremely forceful and impressive splash.  Check out how wet they are in the group picture! Keep in mind this is cold cold water and it's about 50 degrees outside. 





Other activities of the day included exploring the waterfront (including the Olympic torch from the 2010 games and the huge pixelated whale), running upon some of the Terra cotta Warriors hidden throughout Vancouver and having a birthday dinner with my cousin's wife, Jill.  




Up next...Grouse Mountain/ziplining!










Friday, August 3, 2012

Still making our way north...

Greeting from the OBX!
I had planned to keep up the honeymoon recaps throughout the week but wireless issues kept me away until a very chatty guy came and fixed it for us yesterday. 

Monday we got an early start to explore the University of Oregon campus while we were in Eugene.  It was a really neat town and pretty campus, and it just so happened the Olympic trials for track were going on, making us even more psyched for the Olympics to start. 


After grabbing t-shirts from the campus store (standard) we made our way to Portland for lunch.  We didn't do too much exploring in Portland, just walked around downtown for a little while to stretch our legs.  Across the street from where we ate lunch (one of the best meals I've had but I can't remember the name of the place) there was a donut shop called Voodoo Doughnut with a line up and down the street.  We asked our waiter what was so special about them and it turns out it's famous for bizarre types of donuts like maple bacon and Nyquil glazed (though I think the health dept. shut that one down).  If we'd had more time we might have been tempted to wait in line to try them out but our waiter said it wouldn't have been worth it so we settled for a picture. 


We made it to Seattle late afternoon Monday and were greeted at our hotel by some free champagne.  Score.
After a quick shower we set out to walk around downtown.  Dan really wanted to go to the Museum of Legends and Lore that he'd seen on one of the many History Channel shows he watches, but even though we went during their business hours noone was there.  He left a voicemail but we never heard back from them.  Since it was getting late we decided to just walk around and make a list of the things we wanted to do when we came back through later in the week before having dinner at Elliott's Oyster House.  The food was absolutely delicious and the view of the water was even better.  Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures.

Tuesday we got up super early to catch our 7:30 train to Vancouver.  The actual ride was beautiful, with most of the railway right on the water.  We made it to Vancouver by lunch so we were able to check into our hotel, gasp at the awesome view from our balcony, and head out to walk around.  We spent the afternoon just wandering the streets before showering and catching a train to the baseball stadium to see my cousin in action as coach.  I love going to baseball games and really enjoyed the in-between innings entertainment.  They did a sushi race at one point the crowd got really into between Miss BC Roll, Kappa Maki and Chef Wasabi.  Although he loses every race Chef Wasabi was a fan favorite and they were handing out Chef Wasabi bobbleheads.  My favorite enterainment though was the choreographed dance the guys that sweep the infield did.  They have a different one for every game and that night's song was Footloose. 


The Canadians came away with the win and it was cool to see Clayton in action.  I got a kick out of all the little kids asking for his autograph after the game.


After the game we went got a suggestion for a place to meet to have a drink and get to spend some time with Clayton and Jill and taste some new beers.  Clayton and Dan both tried out  what is supposedly the "world's best beer", Delierium Tremors.  They both agreed it wasn't the best they'd ever had, but with the 12+% alcohol content that seemed to be common with all the beers they had after 2 a piece we all woke up with unexpected headaches the next morning.

Up next play time with a beluga whale!! 




Thursday, July 26, 2012

Heading North

Back to the honeymoon recap!

Sunday was the biggest travel day of our trip, driving from wine country to Eugene, Oregon.  We hit the road at 7 am and didn't get to Eugene until about 10:00 that night.  Of course, we made several scenic pit stops along the way-namely Glass Beach and the Redwood Forest.  

We took US-1 for a lot of the trip and it was an absolutely gorgeous, but also terrifying drive.  Mountains on one side of you, straight drop into the ocean from pretty high up on the other side and very skinny roads.  I drove the whole time because otherwise I would have been way too carsick and there were times I'd go around a curve and see a steep steep steep hill coming and have that feeling of right when a roller coaster starts moving of "there's no way I can do this, let me off" but knowing there's no way out.  We also had a little almost-ran-out-of-gas moment as we noticed our gauge said 0 miles to empty when we were about 20 minutes up a mountain with absolutely zero cell service.  We turned around, laid off the gas completely and coasted back down the mountain to the nearest gas station.  Good thing we decided to turn around too, because it was about 2 1/2 hours up said mountain until we saw the next gas station. 

Our first official stop was Glass Beach- a beautiful stop where we could stick our toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, admire the breathtaking views and look at the sea glass.  Unfortunately, although there are signs everywhere saying not to take the sea glass the beach was full of people collecting it by the bag full and you could tell it was taking a toll.  Fun fact: the sea glass is there because back in the day (a Wednesday, by the way) it was used as a dumping ground for trash.  All of the gross stuff decomposed and the rest turned to beautiful sea glass.


We also stopped in the Redwood Forest for some photo ops with the huge trees.  We felt so stupid-- we knew we were going through it but didn't have cell service (which we depended on for maps) for most of the drive and kept saying "wow, these trees are huge", not realizing we'd been driving through the Redwood Forest for hours.  We kept thinking surely there'd be a welcome sign or something to let us know we'd officially arrived but I guess not everyone is dummies like us. 



At some point along the drive Dan said "I wonder where that tree you can drive through is" and I kid you not-less than 10 minutes later we passed a sign for that very tree-the Chandelier Tree. 


Once we made it sleepily into Eugene we went to Hop Valley Brewing company.  As it turns out, Oregon is IPA capital of the world, so we of course had to do a beer tasting (with some nachos on the side). 


I keep planning to put multiple days into one post and one day turns into a super long post...I guess I just have too much to say and too many pictures to share :-)  Still to come: Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver- including play time with a beluga whale and ziplines at Grouse Mountain!  
    
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