Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We're not in Carolina anymore







My parents had a huge blizzard the week before we arrived in Rochester. Upon our arrival, however, the thermometer read 50 and it poured rain for 2 straight days. No snow, much slush. This morning though, we woke up to a real Rochester snowstorm. This is a far cry from Carolina, but this is what winter is supposed to be like.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Joyeux Noel!

All is calm, All is bright. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sticky Buns

The loaves had been rising for 2 hours and threatened to spill over the top of their greased pans, looking for all purposes like mushrooms ready to topple over on teeny tiny stems. We kept joking about how we were going to walk in the house and have to push our way through a ginormous cloud of dough, as one could imagine seeing on a cartoon. Finally, after rising all day, I declared them poofy enough to convert to sticky buns.


I sprinkled the bottom of the pan with walnuts and raisins and Matt happily set to work tearing into the dough and covering the pan with golf ball size pieces. I got to work creating the goop that pores over the dough and settles into the crevices, turning the entire pan into a sticky delightful mess. I melted the butter, stirred in the pudding mix, and dashed in some cinnamon. I peered into my mother-in-law's cabinets, looking for brown sugar. I had brought some of the less obvious ingredients - the vanilla pudding, the walnuts pre-chopped and ready to go, but had naively assumed there would be brown sugar in just about stocked pantry. I should have known: this is the kitchen famous for scotch kissies, the delectable dessert treat that requires an entire box of brown sugar.

She was out. The dough torn, the butter melted, I started to panic. Here I had built up the anticipation of my mom's famous sticky buns ALL day long, hoping to share this tradition with my new family, and in the moment of truth, I had failed to provide an essential ingredient.

I started racking my brain for substitutions. Matt's Nanta, supervising the process, started peering into cupboards. She pulled out a box of granulated sugar and a bottle of Eggo syrup and placed them in front of me. "Here. Mix these." Nanta, who is famous for making her own ketchup once in a pitch, is always to be trusted when it comes to substitutions.

Into the melted butter mixture went this concoction. The color was off and the smell distinctly maple, but the texture was right. I crossed my fingers and drenched the sticky buns with the goop, and put it back in the fridge to rise overnight. In the morning, the aroma of pancakes filled the kitchen while the buns baked. When the timer went off, I pulled them out with hopeful anticipation. The first bite secured my success - despite the slight hint of maple, which turned out to be not a bad addition, they were every bit as delicious as the sticky buns I had consumed every Christmas morning for the last 25 years. My family-in-law's praise was abundant, and the tradition from one family was successfully incorporated into another family.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Callings

For the last 2 hours, Matt has been poring over two drawings of a bed he is going to make with his Pa this winter. Rulers and mechanical pencils have been dexterously alternated from hand to hand, and the pile of eraser crumbs covers our coffee table like a first grader was taking a spelling test. His drawings are so precise, so meticulous I am starting to wonder if his true calling was perhaps furniture design instead of medicine.

He calls me over to stand next to the measuring tape to see how high the bed is going to be. Holding the measuring tape up to my hip, he palpates the top where the tape hits to use as a comparison to our current bed.

"Perfect. Right at the greater trochanter."

Nope. Medicine, it is.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Working At Home Diaries

9:30 - woke up. wrote down my dream. turned on coffee machine.
9:45 - began reading food logs.
10:45 - remembered coffee, poured cup, returned to food logs.
12:30 - "i think i've been reading for like an hour..." Er, um. Well, I'm almost done.
1:15 - switch to data entry.
1:45 - website locks me out. back to reading.
2:30 - "Are you still reading?" he calls from the next room. 3 more.
2:45 - emerge. stretch legs. heat chili.
2:50 - watch football and eat chili. work 3 soduku puzzles.
3:00 - work thru "pile." this includes bills, things to be scanned, thank you note to write, coupons to use or recycle.
3:30 - blog. email. other creative writing measures. all the while listening to artists i like on youtube. more frustrating than pandora since i have to restart, but at liberty to choose songs.
4:30 - dismantle holiday decor. sad.
5:30 - return to interwebs while hub is engrossed in football. read others' blogs. more emails. memotome updates. to do list for tomorrow
6:30 - sushi with hubby.
7:15 - fro yo with hubby
8:00 - denim shopping online with hubby.
9:00 - cleaning out email inbox. uploading photos. listening to youtube. why does interwebbing wile away my time so well?
10:00 - bed. read. sleep.

Dirty Santa, Deflated Santa

Last night we went to Matt's Aunt Paige's house for the beginning of our Christmas festivities. The feast was amazing as usual - Paige cooks like she is an understudy of Paula, Giada and Ina. After stuffing ourselves silly (apparently just continuing the trend), we retreated to the living room for a round of Dirty Santa. Each "participant" in the game brings a gift-wrapped package of something from their home that they no longer desire. Perhaps it's the one thing that's been sitting your "regift" basket for years, or the smelly lotion set that just isn't your flavor (could it be the glitter?) or maybe even that Spin Shade you were just given the day before and had no idea what to do with it. (I'm just sayin'....) Everyone draws numbers, and the lowest number picks a gift. Up the number count you go, selecting gifts that draw reactions from uproarious laughter (leopard print hat) to genuine delight (Santa Claus wine coozie?) to curiousity (Spin Shade, again.) After the last person picks, back down the numbers you go - you have the option to keep your gift or steal another person's gift. This was a relatively tame group, as far as the pilfering goes. A pair of snowflake dish towels went through 3 grabs, and I caused a little family tift by stealing a set of word puzzle and sodoku books from my SIL, but most of the grabs were fairly benign. That is to say, no one dared claim the grape-smelling teddy bear from the six year old!

Today, despite their being 4 days left until Christmas, Matt and I took down our holiday decor. Last year the lights twinkled on our tree from October until almost February. It is quite sad and anticlimatic to see the bare mantel and empty front porch now. My Christmas spirit feels as deflated as our blow-up Santa, stuffed in his tupperware bin back up in the attic! We are going to be in and out over our Christmas vacation, and I was dreading taking down the decor and tree without his help in January (when interview season kicks in again.) But, in a few days, we'll be home with family and my mom's collection of snowmen (in the hundreds, I daresay) will more than make up for the fact that Santa won't find our stockings hung by the chimney with care. In the meantime, maybe I can convince Matt to mute the Panthers game and put the Holly station on the XM, instead. Or... not.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tis the season to be eating... fa la lala ...oooof.

I feel like I have been eating non-stop for 4 days. (A stunning declaration when you consider I've been teaching "Holiday Eating" for the last 2 weeks to 180 frantic, panicked, weight loss participants.) It kicked off with the chowder followed by Christmas Cookies on Saturday - I've never been much for moderation when it comes to iced sugar cookies. Sunday followed it up with the sampling of low-calorie buckeyes I was making, and a late dinner at Putter's.

Monday was our departmental Christmas party at Riverburch. Due to the lay out of the party - food due North, wine and beer at East & West, and my hesitancy to navigate north and risk enforced mingling with medical campus staff I didn't know ("oh! have you met so & so?") I held camp near the wine bar with the rest of the research staff. Staff and faculty mix like oil and water at these events, so my antisocial behavior, while not entirely appropriate, is not unusual for our department. One brave staffer parted the seas and grabbed me a plate of shrimp cocktail, fortunately preventing the wine + empty stomach = no driving home.

Tuesday was our staff luncheon at Village Tavern, capped off by a monthly dinner date with my friend Suzanne at Hutch & Harris. This was my first visit to H&H, but I could no more fit an entree into my belly than could one person squeeze onto a 5 pm metrocar headed to Ballston. So I had a soup and salad, and lovingly packed up an bowl of She-Crab Soup to take home to the hubby. (I failed to look at the serving however, until I arrived home and we noted that a "to go" bowl serving is approximately 2 tablespoons. Thanks, H&H.) PS, Tuesday night is free taco night if you ordered a $5 margarita. What what! I already had my wine order in before I found that out, but note to you, savvy Winston-Salem diner, for future reference.

Wednesday reached an all-time high in the calorie consumption with our participant potluck party. I love watching the different dishes stroll through the door. My "weight loss" participants show up for the first hour, laden with fruit salads, shrimp cocktail and veggie trays. The next hour brings "weight loss + exercise" participants who tend to be a little more liberal, with baked chicken entrees, some low calorie desserts, chips + salsa, soups, roasted veggie dishes and other delectable but healthy treats. The final hour is dedicated to "exercise only" - a group to whom no nutritional information has been given - and this is when the fried chicken, ham biscuits, green bean casserole and coconut cake that covered dish parties in the South are known for all make their appearance. As they arrived, my "combo" folks were packing up and I watched the panic cross their face as they saw many of their former temptations arrive on the buffet.

One of my participants pulled me aside, her voice dripping with concern. "Who brought the Krispy Kremes?" she practically hissed. "An exercise only person," I told her as I patted her arm consolingly. "You should probably go - it's only going to get worse from here," I recommended, as I spied the unmistakable yellow and red of a Bojangles box approaching from the parking lot.

All of our participants loved playing Monica's new toy - the wii Fit. However, it was a little awkward when the wii Fit age proclaimed many of them to be 12-15 years older than their actual age or loudly pronounced "You are OBESE" as the little Mii man blew up to twice his size. Errrm.... well..... *shrugs*

One of our greatest success stories, a woman has maintained a 40 pound lost stepped on the wii to test her fit age. A combination of BMI, posture, balance and agility determines your fitness age. Her elation when the wii declared her THIRTY years younger than her actual age? Unmeasurable. Her celebration was just another reminder of why I love my job.

And today, the final day before our 2 week Christmas vacation, is another reason I love my job. Remember how the day before vacation in school was always a waste of a day? You might watch a video, maybe do a worksheet, and then trade presents with friends and dutifully turn in your present (that your mom picked out - a candle, a bar of soap, a gift card to barnes & nobles) to teacher. That is what my last day of work before a holiday tends to be like.

I had 2 phone call coaching sessions this morning, and in about fifteen minutes I'll head over to our center to mingle with exercising participants. I'll work maybe a half day, I won't teach anything, and I'll give out lots of hugs and reminders to eat healthy and weigh thyself over the holiday. Then around 1:15, as the last of my participants head out the door, I'll briefly consider going into the office to do some data entry before convicning myself that "nah. I'll do some over the break."

Then I'll come home, to my already-vacationing hubby, and our 2-week, much-awaited, it's finally here Christmas Vacation will begin. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Trying My Hand at Puppy Parenthood

Last night, Z & J had us down for a night of food, frosting and films. We scarfed down on a delicious homemade chicken & corn chowder before clearing the table to make room for cookie frosting paraphernalia.
J's Homemade Buttercream Frosting

After our decorating (and eating) bonanza, we snuggled up to watch Christmas Vacation. Unfortch, the week of 4:50 am wake ups caught up to me and I watched the back of eyelids while snuggling with a warm and toasty puggle curled up next to me. What a fun guest I am. Invite me over....I'll take a nap on your couch!


Matt Concentrating On His Work

It's been a busy 2 months of interviewing for everyone, so it was nice to take a breather to reconnect and hang out before we all scatter for the holidays again. 4th year has been a welcome respite for these boys, and hopefully the spring will bring even more opportunities to relax and hang out with friends once the pressure and time commitment of interviews die down.
Emily & Wiggy's Creations

Today, we had our first experience of puppy parenthood today as we watched Gus while Z&J headed out of town on the interview circuit as well. Newsflash: standing outside on a leash in the middle of December waiting for a curious dog to find a good spot to pee is NOT fun. I read Marley & Me, I know puppy parenthood is not all fun and tug of war games... but my quick to grow impatience as I waited for that little hind leg to raise makes me question my readiness to be a parent of the canine variety, much less any other variety. Is it easier when they are your own? Should fenced-in backyards be a priority? Should we move to Charleston to eliminate the standing in the cold? (Yes, yes and yes?) It isn't long though before he was showering me with the sad "play with me" puggle eyes, and bounding with glee around my living room, delighting in the simplicity of the game and my moment in the cold was forgotten. Ah yes.... this is why we keep these curious creatures around us. The moments of companionship, entertainment and "you know love me" faces, I am sure, far outweigh the moments of frustration and impatience. (I think? J?)

Now we are heading over to the Joel to watch Wake WIN (I hope) against Wright State, and to round out the evening with a little dinner at my least favorite restaurant, Putter's.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Very Own Version of Hell: The Mall at Christmas

How did this weekend and come and go already? How is it that Christmas is a mere 2 weeks away?

Last night was low-key, with a trip to El Dorado with neighbors Zac and Jamie. Lots of queso was ordered, lots of laughter was had. Later, Matt and I watched Cold Mountain - a movie I never would have selected from the video rental, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. I love reading historical fiction (The Other Boleyn Girl, The Year of Wonder, etc) and I often forget that genre exists in movies as well.

Today I braved the mall post office line, which I survived in thanks to the foresight to plan ahead with an ipod book on tape. Deep yoga breaths and lots of calf raises. Lines. :::Shudder:::: Ipod in ears, I stepped foot into the belly of the mall - something I have not done at Christmas since I stopped working at Gap Kids in '99. Crowds. :::Shudder:::: I spent a surprisingly pleasant hour perusing the racks at Forever 21, all the while with Michael Gerber chattering in my ears on an audiobook. I was delighted to piece together an outfit for my brother's girlfriend that I think is actually quite cute. I have not met her and all I am going on is her age and the style of outfits I have seen her wear in f-book pics. Here's hoping. If she hates it, Forever 21's return policy is super easy....sooo... oh yea, no, it sucks. She better like it. Especially because I texted my brother THREE times in the span of an hour to ask him if he was around so I could photo-text him. My brother = the least communicative person EVER. My plan when I am home this Christmas is to see how often he screens calls and/or checks text without responding. I have a sneaking suspicion he is not just "missing" my calls or "charging his phone." What? It's not like I call THAT much... I just like to communicate with my siblings. Is that too much to ask? Anyways... I digress. Weekends, Christmas shopping, crowds, et cetera... back on track.

So, all I have left on my Christmas list is to hunt down the almost-discontinued Polaroid film my Grandpa uses and the 2009 tear off Dilbert calendar I've gotten my dad for the last eleven years. In high school, he used to tear off pages he thought were funny and leave them either on our bathroom counter or taped to my bedroom door. Throughout college he would mail them to me, so much so that my roommates recognized his swirly black inky handwriting on the envelopes and would know some Dilbert goodness awaited them. Every year I wonder if he is sick of the calendar, but approximately 2 weeks later when I've received my first Dilbert offering in the mail, I know I would have disappointed had I forgone the tradition. My family looooves traditions and nostalgia, nearly to a fault. Ask my mom about a recent conversation in regards to a fridge we've had in our family for 29 years.... "It held my baby bottles!" I pleaded. Nostaglia: To. A. Fault.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rhett! Rhett, where are you going?

I am absolutely positive the technology exists that would allow me to work remotely from here and that I never, ever plan to leave. Even on this gray and sulky day where the sky is spitting drizzly drops of precipitation on me as I attempt to window shop on King St, I am in l-o-v-e with this city.

Matt and I came down to Charleston last night for his 2nd to last interview, and we are both just enthralled with this city. Last night we ditched the school sanctioned dinner (if you read this, probably not a surprise) in exchange for a date night/bar crawl of our own. Jason, having recently visited Charleston, had directed us to a seafood restaurant that turned out to be mere yards from our lovely hotel. On our way down, he had texted us to visit the bartender when we got there and pick up a mysterious something. A gift certificate awaited us and we enjoyed a most scrumptious meal - spicy and hearty Bloody Mary's, an appetizer of grit cakes with a light garlic alfredo sauce, and cajun sauteed shrimp - calories don't count on vacation right? Yum. Our experience was capped off with a visit from Maiar Hyman, who according to the history lesson on my menu, is the 3rd generation of Hyman's to run the restaurant. (Gen #5 is currently in charge.) Maiar regaled us with stories of his days in Winston-Salem immediately following the Korean War, and how he was a big timer textile salesman once clinching a deal with the now-Sara-Lee owned Hanes brand.

Delicious Bloody Mary's with Absolut Peppar... Yum!

After our feast, we wobbled on to the streets and looked for somewhere to take shelter from the drizzle. Our prerequisites were simple: other patrons present and live music. While this may sound innocent enough, keep in mind it was only 8:30 pm on a Tuesday, in December. Not exactly the High Season. We wandered into one bar on Vendue St called The Griffon, where 2 other tables were filled with patrons, and a guy with a guitar crooned acoustic versions of Smashing Pumpkins, Eagles and Elliott Smith with an alarmingly similarity. After two rounds of hearing the same wailing on repeat and watching the same drunk girl in ugg boots and a jean skirt heave herself at any present male patronage, we paid our tab and left. Music and boisterous voices lured us into a bar called Mad River that inhabited a former church across from the Market. Something about the half-hearted attempt at rugged outdoor decor (the canoe hanging from the ceiling), the overly cheesy party music (Paradise City when you're sober? Nope) and the presence of what appeared to be an intramural sports team celebrating a season win reminded me of some other place I had frequented. It wasn't until I got home that I put it together: the same bar (decor, music and patrons) was just 4 1/2 blocks from my apartment in Baltimore and I had spent many a Friday nights elbow-deep at Mad River.

After a round at Mad River, we wandered up East Bay St for a lap before succumbing to Wet Willies, a bar with every known daiquiri flavor to man featured in slushie machines on a wall 25 yards long. Matt sampled the "Attitude Adjustment" - a suspicious recommendation from the waitress - while I sipped a Bud Light. Sugar and alcohol don't mix well in my system, and a 5-alarm slurpee is a guaranteed way to ruin my next morning. What really kept us at Wet Willie's though was the entertainment. Six guests rotated through song after song on Karaoke, while the other dozen or so patrons gazed on in shocked amusement, egged on in barely concealed faux encouragement and took secret video footage (me). It was like being at a live American Idol audition, and hearing many of my very favorite songs completely ruined!

The Wall o' Wonder @ Wet Willies

After a dozen ear-splitting performances, we pushed aside the half-finished daiquiri and called it a night. What a Tuesday night it was - from low key mellow bar performance, to pulsating party music, to heart wrenching karaoke, we experienced the finest that Charleston's musical scene had to offer. However, we both agreed neither the rain or melodically challenged performances put a damper on the beautiful backdrop of Charleston.

This morning, we did a driving tour of Charleston and oogled out the window like a proper tourist at the gorgeous scenery on East Bay St. Had it not been raining, I would have insisted on a proper parking so I could shutterbug to my heart content. However, I melt in the rain, in case you didn't know, so a drive-by sufficed for me. After dropping him off at MUSC to interview, I did some half-hearted window shopping on King St. Oh, Economy! Truth be told, I am out of my element in any location that has a real live Louis Vuitton store and no Forever 21 or Target as far as the eye can see.

In an hour, I will meet my gorgeous friend Mikell who I scrambled all around the beautiful pais de Espana with nearly six years ago. The last time I saw her, we bid adios in the Madrid airport, but with the help of facebook I have tracked her wanderlust as she's moved from Costa Rica to Seattle to Peru to Columbia and now to Charleston. I'm hoping to convince her she needs a live-in nutritionist and should clear some room for Matt and I to take up permanent residence in her probably-non-existent spare bedroom. After lunch and some more wandering, I'll pick up the student doctor and north bound we shall be headed, bidding Charleston a sad farewell.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The 2nd Annual Catchphrase Showdown

The best traditions are the ones that start accidentally. Last year, we found out by pure coincidence that friends of ours from college, TJ and Fred, were traveling up to Blowing Rock for a weekend with their wives the same weekend we were planning on traveling down to Boone with Matt's college roommate Jason. We were staying at Matt's grandparent's house in Boone, and intended to pack the weekend full of Guitar Hero, Street Fighter and some seriously long bouts of Doing Nothing. We met up with TJ, Fred and wives Kelli (TJ) and Michelle (Fred) the Saturday of our weekend and had one of those laugh til your stomach hurts kind of nights together playing Catchphrase, drinking wine, and taking ego pot shots the way that only college friends can do.

This year Jason came to town to take his LSATs here at Wake (and I suppose to visit Matt) and we found out the same crew was headed to Blowing Rock again. After the test Saturday we headed down there, making it officially a 2nd annual winter weekend in the mountains. The catch phrase was just as intense - in fact I'm surprised marriages survive being on opposing teams. The wine (and sweet tea vodka) flowed just as freely as did the barbs, and the laughter never ceased. Saturday night we went to a local BBQ joint where a Toby Keith-wannabe belted out his renditions of everything from Rocky Top to Mud on the Tires while the patrons clapped, whistled and clinked together mason jars of Budweiser. After dinner, we headed back to beautiful Chetola where the rest of the crew was staying.


















The Catchphrase battle picked up about 9 pm with 3 rounds of North (me, Fred, Michelle and Jason) vs. South (Matt, Kelli & TJ.) In case you're wondering, the North won all 3 times. No surprise there. As the battle heated up, we traded teams (me, TJ, Matt and Kelli) vs. (Fred, Michelle and Jason). The 4-person team won again - an unfair advantage to have an extra brain? The Girls decided to test this theory and went head to head against the 4-man team of The Boys. It was a close and heated battle. Wine bottles were knocked over, fingers were pointed, marriages were tested. We were down 0-6, closed the gap to 6-6 and then took a 4 point lead to make it 10-6. Playing to 16, the boys closed it up again with another 10-10. We were point for point all the way to 16, but in the end the boys (yet another 4-man team) were triumphant. At the close of our 5th game, the clock had struck 3:30 am, so we unwillingly called it quits.


















The next day we had a recovery breakfast at Mountain House - Boone's very own version of Cracker Barrel complete with a front room full of tchotchkes for sale. Personalized mailbox flags anyone? Greeting cards with "When You Were Born...." anecdotes? Bike license plates? (They never have Meghan with an "H"... such a farce.) After a hearty mountain breakfast, we worked it off walking up and down the side of a small mountain trying to find the perfect Christmas tree. Granted, Matt and I have set up Ye Olde Artificial again this year, but partaking in the quest for our friends' tree (as well as the much needed exercise) was nearly as exciting had it been for our own living room. Nothing like getting the delicious pine smell, mountain air, hot cider experience without having to vacuum up the needles at home later on. (NTS: Yankee Candle mistletoe candles go on sale after Christmas don't they? There really is nothing like that smell...)




































The ride home was a quiet one, but the 24 hour escape to the mountain was enough to refresh us and kick start December off with the true holiday spirit: the smells (the aroma of pine, the notes of red wine) the sounds (squabbling over Catchphrase sounds uncannily like my dad's siblings squabbling over...well, everything), the sights (we saw our first snow of the year in the mountains) and the spirits (uplifted!). Here's to our 2nd annual providing the kick-start to a month of more traditions and holiday spirits.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Mistletoe Morning

On a cold December morning, while smart people everywhere pulled up their down comforters and snored the morning away, Matt and Jamie joined 1200 other Winston-Salemites to brave the cold to run the Mistletoe 5k. They both ran record fast times, which not only made this spectator very proud but also very happy. One more mile to watch and my toes might have fallen off. Could it be that the smart ones were actually the ones who huffing and puffing, and well, moving?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tis the Season to be... busy


Looking forward to a nice, sloooow December..... or not.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Calories, Car Trips & Cousins: It's Thanksgiving!

I find myself with 2 hours to kill before my LAST class of the day and bedarned if I'm actually going to do work when there is not a single living breath molecular organism left in this office building. All I can say is attendance better be terrific, since I tried to cancel this class in the first place and there was an uprising.

A popular topic of conversation the last few days has been T-giving plans, so I'll pick up there. Tomorrow we head to High Point for a feasting with Matt's mom's side of the fam. I was delegated with the task of bringing an appetizer. Of course, being a nutritionist I am making a dip with 4 super healthy ingredients:
1. Mayo
2. Cheese
3. More Cheese
4. Artichokes

Yes I know, know. I teach this stuff. But honestly this is the best appetizer I have ever made and tears of joy have been shed over this dish. And I can't make it when it's just the two of us or we'll consume about 800 calories a piece and stop only when we explode. So it's best made when there's 17 other people present. Sharing enforces portion control.

Friday I'll head down to Charlotte to see my cousin and her clan of three, including a new little one - 7 weeks old - who I will be meeting for the first time. The idea of seeing those 3 little goobers make me insanely excited. As does the idea that I get to give them back when I'm tired of them. Saturday is a baby shower for a cousin on Matt's side and dinner with that clan (Dad-in-law's fam.) I'm looking forward to the 2 extra days off of work, but somehow I can already guess they are going to fly by in a whirl.

This morning, speaking of things being a little hectic, we were very short on helpers at work with all our student workers enjoying an early Thanksgiving (enjoy it now, youngsters!). I mentioned this to Matt and my gracious, wonderful husband showed up here this morning with a skinny vanilla for me and a stethoscope to work. The best? You betcha. No, you can't have him, HE'S MINE.

I have a lot to be thankful for all year round, and I love little moments when a wave of gratitude just washes over me. I've never been big into Thanksgiving. For starters, I don't really like yams. Or pie. Or cranberry sauce. But the idea of one day to sit around and acknowledging the act of being grateful seems kind of silly to me. I'd rather have 364 mini moments of gratitude, like the one I had today when that tall southerner walked into my classroom with my piping hot latte, than think that there's just one day where we go around the table and say what we're thankful for. On the other hand, it does seem to be one of the few times of the year when almsot everyone I know drops the usual excuses and finds the time to be with their family. So for that, for all of us to continue to do that, I am thankful.

Please pass the artichoke dip now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Greetings from Non-Snowy South Carolina


It is snowing in NC in November.... totally unheard of. Of course, we are not there. We are in sunny, warm Columbia, SC. (Sunny yes, warm is up for debate. Mid-50's.)

Per usual for residency interviews, we had dinner last night with the other applicants and residents last. 3 hours of listening to them talk about "getting airways" (medicine speak for having an oppurtunity to stick a tube down into someone's lungs) and "moonlighting" (working in small nearby hospitals for extra pay in your "free time") and the terrors of July for an intern. (The "omg, I'm a doctor?!!? moment most 1st years experience.)

This morning I dropped Matt off at his interview and took myself on a walking tour of Columbia. The area down by the waterfront (river? canal?) is very nice. Very trendy and cute. Reminded me a little better of Fells Point in Baltimore, but newer. Lots of shops and places to eat. Probably not where medical residents live. The state capitol house was interesting.... and by interesting I mean, a confederate flag is waving proudly in it's front yard. Is that legal?

Now I am working (writing emails, blogs and facebook status updates + 3 legit phone call sessions) in my hotel room til late check-out at 1pm, then I'll go find somewhere to eat and check out USC campus.

I'll pick up the student doctor at 3p and we should be back home to snowy NC by dinner time. After his first six interviews, Matt went on a cancelling spree and went from 21 interviews down to 11. I can see why now. If one more resident asked him "So, do you have any questions about the program?" (knowing full well all applicants had to watch a SIXTY-FOUR slide powerpoint about the program that included details such as the program director's middle name and that south carolina is known as the Iodine State and thus has the lowest incident rate of goiters)... I think his head was going to explode from repressed eye-rolling.

Still left on the interview circuit: Charleston, Duke, UNC and U of R.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I could get used to football like this...


This weekend my friend/freshmen year roommate Kim invited me to come watch the NCSU vs. Wake game in Raleigh with her and her parents. The weather report was looking mighty dreary so I expressed my reservations until she told me we were going to be sitting inside in a suite. Oooh! Football indoors? This I can do.

She told me we were going to the game with "people my dad works with." I don't really know what Kim's dad does - all I knew is that he raises turkeys and works for a major turkey producing company, so I didn't really know what to expect. So, we get there and we go up to this suite... only this suite is about the same square footage as my house. No joke. Amazing views, huge plush leather couches, flat screen TVs everywhere, a buffet nicer than our wedding and an open bar with top shelf liquor. I'm like ok, and I thought I had connections when I scored Gold Lot passes for Wake? Not having to walk far to the stadium is small peanuts compared to an endless pour of Chardonnay. Hello! So I'm finally like Kim, whose box is this? And she points out this adorable little old man in his 70s with a big red plaid shirt on and faded Levi jeans and a braided leather belt... I mean, country as can be. She's like "That guy, Wendell Murphy. He raises hogs." So she starts pointing people out... that guy raises hogs, that guy raises turkey, they sell grain, etc. She goes "Everyone here is pretty much a farmer." Talk about counter to my stereotypes! I am such a Yankee in that I tend to still think that Big Business is the only way you can make Big Moola. Nope. A few minutes later we're sitting in our seats (inside while the rain pelted down!) and I look at the field house.... well here, this is what I saw. I love how Kim plays it off like "oh no biggie, he raises hogs." Um, apparently a lot of hogs. I did some googling when I got home and by "raising hogs" she really meant "owns Smithfield Farms." She is about as Southern as can be when it comes to downplaying things.

But anyways, it was nice to be inside and be half sloshed on very yummy wine to watch our miserable, miserable team. It was not nice to be sitting with the very, very vocal and jubliant Wolfpack fans as we get smacked in our game.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yankee Land Delight!





Just a mere 1,700 miles driven in the last week. No biggie. Matt has been off interviewing in the land of blustery winters, harsh accents and rude drivers. In other words, the North! (This is the fun of being a Yankee Belle - I have the right to disparage BOTH geographic locations that I call home!)


NC to York to NC to Pittsburgh to Morgantown to Pittsburgh to NC... Oh my!

Monday he spent up in York, PA interviewing at a private hospital there. Prior to that, our only encounter with York had been to ski at Roundtop Mountain, the first time Matt came to visit me when I was living in Baltimore. It was on this mountain hill that our romance was rekindled... but I don't think the nostalgia was enough to sweeten the visit as a high on the future rank list.

York, PA - Ski Roundtop - Matt's first visit to Baltimore, March 2005


Wednesday he was back on the road to Pittsburgh - a town both of us know well, given that both of our college roommates hail from the Iron City. Dropping a "Go Stillers" into your interview is always a nice touch. Overall though, he sounded truly thrilled with the program at Pitt.


View of Pittsburgh from the top of Mt. Washington (from Britta's Wedding Reception, 7/05)

Today he is in Morgantown, WV interviewing at WVU. We don't know much about Morgantown, so I'm curious to hear his take on the program. Then he is back on the road back to Pittsburgh, for a visit with Jason, a Steelers game and one more interview at Alleghany General before it's back on the road again. Thank the heavens that gas prices have dropped to the low 2's again!

Safe travels, Hubby and get home soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

Officially it is tomorrow, but because my husband has become an interview nomad, we are celebrating tonight. I've got all the fixins of a good b-day dinner ready (Paprika Chicken, a favorite of this household) as well as a pound cake with coconut and pecan frosting. Calories don't count on your birthday... right? Matt is off playing volleyball and then he gets to return home to open his presents. Only I forgot that the wrapping paper is in the closet in the guest bedroom, which is conviently barricaded by the drumset we moved to make room for our guests this weekend. So, by unwrapping, I actually just mean seeing them sitting out on the kitchen table. Rats. I hate when I totally lame up a plan. Especially birthdays - my mom was all about birthday hoopla and extravaganza and I haven't quite mastered her ability to make a birthday person feel like a rock star. Give me a few more years... or at least, some wrapping paper.

Happy Birthday, Hubby! I love you!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Satiety






Ingredients for a perfect weekend:
- 6 best friends
- husband/fiancees that tolerate (adore?) our obsession with another
- a late warm spell coupled with gorgeous foliage on an already picture perfect campus
- a winning football team

Welcome to Wino Weekend. If I took the time and wrote out how I feel about these girls, we would be here all day. Suffice it to say, there has been nothing like the friendship of this group of girls for me. We love each other unconditionally, support each other unanimously and go above and beyond the challenges of long distance friendships to make time for another. Having all six of us in one place - especially the place we were "born" 5 years ago this fall - is perfection.

Friday night, half the girls arrived and we met up for drinks with Sigma Pi alum at Fox & Hound. Saturday we packed the show on the road and tailgated for a few hours, before enjoying a sweep of a football game against UVA. The afternoon was sunny and unseasonably hot, with the backdrop of gold and reds as the only reminder that it was still fall. The afternoon was filled with eating, chatting, drinking, laughing, cheering and just a general feeling of fullness.




By dinner time, our age had started to catch up to us. We convened at an old Favorite, the Mexican restaraunt on University that we'd chow down on chips and salsa and 'ritas before many a lounge party. After our 4-table party had taken in an abundance of chips and Dos Equis, the carb coma set in hard, and we opted for winding down at our house instead of going out downtown.

This morning, we topped off a perfect weekend at "our" place - 4th Street Filling Station. There were six of us crammed into a both, just like every Wednesday night, senior year. (But, I confess 2 winos were on the road and/or sleeping, and the six-some was completed by 2 Wino Husbands.) There were no KJ bottles ordered, but the feeing of absolute contentment from a good meal shared by good friends was ever the same.

I felt nostalgic for so many reasons I pulled off in the direction of I-40 West to go home while my friends departed to the East, to catch planes to New York and Boston, to return to the other side of the state to Raleigh or to head up north to Charlottesville. We returned to our separate lives, together always.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Interview Season

Eighteen and counting! So far (in order as I remember them)

  • U Pitt (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC)
  • University of Rochester (Rochester, NY)
  • Georgetown University (Washington, DC)
  • Beth Israel Hospital (New York, NY)
  • UT at Chattanooga (Chattanooga, TN)
  • UNM (Alburqurque, NM)
  • Duke (Durham, NC)
  • WVU (Morgantown, WV)
  • Allegheny General Hospital (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
  • Thomas Jefferson (Philadelphia, PA)
  • MUSC (Charleston, SC)
  • VCU (Richmond, VA)
  • Eastern Virginia (Norfolk, VA)
  • East Carolina University (Greenville, NC)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)

I am missing one and it's going to bug me. But anyways... here are the possible places our future may lie! Where do you think we'll end up?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Suckered by the Scenery

It has been so gorgeous here in North Carolina. The campus has turned into a showboat of oranges, reds and golds with the leaves changing but it remains absolutely perfectly warm. (To me, converted Belle that I am, that means in the 70s.) There are few things that make me happier than a lunchtime run in November in shorts and a t-shirt.

That is why, despite the fact that I knew I had packed the wrong pair of socks (too big), I went for a run on Thursday. And that is why, even knowing these socks were too big and thus slipping and sliding all over the inside of my shoes, I went all the way down Polo Rd thus committing me to a 4+ mile run. And that is why, despite the pain, I kept running.

And that is why, the entire medial side of the bottom of my left foot is a blister. It is approximately 3 inches long by a half inch wide. Am I grossing you out yet? I am dismayed at my poor judgement.

But it was such a pretty day...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote!

I did not have to wait in line to vote today. At 2:30 (thank you flexible work schedule), I walked in, took my ballot, filled in my bubbles and walked out.

Sub 5 minute voting experience.

Now that's historical.



Ok, all tomfoolery aside, even though he wasn't my candidate, this is an amazing day for our country and I hope God blesses him and he makes wise decisions for the future of our great country. I'm not a big politco, but am proud to be an American.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Night Recap

My hubby is home! My hubby is home! What a good weekend.

Friday, I worked from home, starting at 6a and was at the grocery store by 2p getting all his favorites. (NTS: More evidence I am becoming my mom. Food purchases = love.) He got home shortly before I returned from the store and all felt right at Wynbrk again. Within 10 minutes, Sportscenter was on, the nap blanket was out and the big brown couch had it's favorite occupant in place. Guiltily, I slunk off for my own nap. Nothing like having your wife greet you at the door and then check out for 3 hours. (I am still adjusting to a new work schedule that invovles a 6a start 4 days a week... ouch.) He seemed perfectly content to get caught up with Tony Reali, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon instead of me though. I made a great steak dinner and we caught up with each other while taking turns passing out Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids to Dora the Explorer, ballerinas, pirates, frogs and Go-Go Dancers. (Happy Birthday, Sis!)

Saturday we tailgated with Monica & company. It was surprisingly warm and a perfect day for some beer & football. The game was way too close. The rowdy Duke fan in front of me had way too many oppurtunities to vocally express himself. Fortunately we won, but it was a nailbiter. Afterwards, we walked down the street to Zac and Jamie's for some burgers and brews and hanging out. Sunday was a typical cleaning/errands day, and I was surprised to find how comforted I was to have the background of NFL Sunday on while I coupon clipped and Lysol'ed my way through the day. There is something about our everyday, domestic, routine life that just makes me oh so content. May I always be so blessed to have such a calm and happy home life.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I so like routines

This has been a hard week at work. I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say my schedule has been changing in ways I would not have predicted a year ago. We added in a class to try and grab full time workers, so I now teach Tuesday mornings at 6:30 and 7:30 am, and do individual sessions starting at 6a on Thursday mornings. We also had some personnel changes, so for at least the next 2 months, I am going to be solely in charge of all the classes and individual sessions, whereas before I did about 2/3rds of the classes and half of the sessions. Both changes are good things in the long run, but they happened within two weeks of each other and in the adjustment period, I think I've been putting in about 10 hour day with 2-3 hours of work coming home each night. It is very, very dark when I get to work.

I feel whiny and tired and am drinking a lot of coffee.

It will get better. Sigh. More sleep needed, please.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Night Recap

This was one of those weekends where I had nothing (planned) to do yet ended up doing a fair amount of things anyways - mostly stuff I have wanted to do for awhile or needed to do. Nothing feels better than lots of check marks on my always present to do list.

Friday night, with our hubs out of town, Jamie and I made a big mess out of her kitchen table and both worked on scrapbooks that are about 3 years old (hers: wedding parties, 2005; mine: first year of dating, 2005.) This year I finally finished a scrapbook from my travel abroad to Spain (2002) and I'm nearly done with my wedding scrapbook (2007). I am declaring this the end of my scrapbooking career. I like the end result, but I just don't find it as rewarding and relaxing as really hardcore scrappers do. Not to mention it's absurdly expensive. I think I like the idea of this serving as my digital scrapbook going forward. I can't put adorable stickers or vellum quotes on here, but I think I'm okay with that. (Truth be told, I can't figure out how to use vellum anyways.)

Saturday morning I drove over to Greensboro to walk in the Arthritis Foundation's 5k walk. Monica and I were scoping it out to determine whether or not our participants could do it next year and it was a really easy trail. Our walkers would dominate it. And then they'd be all over the Krispy Kreme donuts, much to my chagrin. Not really - I ate one too.

In the afternoon, I went over to a house that is being converted into a house of service by a friend of Emily's. 5 of us sorted and folded donated clothing while chatting and the hours flew by. Afterwards, Jamie and I went and did a little clothes sorting of our own at Forever 21. I found an armful of clothing that I liked, but thankfully only two made it past the dressing room scrutinizing. Typical of 21. (And good for my wallet.) Saturday evening, I alternated between working on my scrapbook again, watching Celebrity Rehab and switching out my summer and winter clothes. When Matt called to check in, he found a perfectly content wife. What could be better than being crafty and super organizing projects simultaneously? Nada. Nada my friends.

Sunday I slept in sans alarm which was glorious, then scrubbed the house from top to bottom in preparation for the hubby's return on Friday. I made a quick run to Target for my sistser's birthday present (an LED flameless candle, which sounds super lame-o but is actually way neat) and came home to settle in for a dinner of pesto penne and chicken.

I loved having a weekend to be all projecty and organizing and cleany... but I am also so very ready for Matt to get home and hang out with me!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mother Hubbard

I love using things up. I don't know why - I think it makes me feel like I've gotten my money's worth of an item when I use it up to the very very last drop. That being said, one of my favorite games in grad school (partially due to neccesity) was to see how long I could make it between grocery trips. This meant getting extremely creative on meal planning. With Matt out of town this month, I have been really pushing it on how long I have gone without grocery shopping. I have made a couple quick trips for milk, lettuce, carrots and apples (needs) but other than that I have been trying to use up whatever I have on hand. I am seriously Mother Hubbard-ing it over here. This is what I have left:


  • one salmon fillet
  • one chicken breast
  • one morningstar chicken patty
  • one buffalo chicken sausage
  • 1/2 bag frozen spinach
  • 1/2 bag frozen edamame
  • 1/2 box rotini
  • a little bit of pesto sauce
  • 3 english muffins
  • 1/4 carton of almond milk
  • 1/2 carton of Kefir
  • 3 wedges of laughing cow
  • oatmeal
  • 1/2 box of wild rice
  • 1 can black beans
  • dunkin donuts coffee

I know I can make it til Thursday, when I'll have to go grocery shopping before Matt gets home. In the meantime, it's going to take some creativity. I've got some ideas....

Meal #1: salmon, spinach, wild rice

Meal #2: penne + pesto w/ chicken

Meal #3: more penne + a little olive oil + edamame

Meal #4: black beans + buffalo chicken sausage + rice

3 breakfasts: english muffins + laughing cow, coffee w/ almond milk; kefir later on

And when in doubt, there's always oatmeal.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Big Trip to Greenville

Yesterday I made the trip down to Greenville, NC - home of the famous B's Barbeque, the ECU Pirates, Lee Norris (of One Tree Hill and Boy Meets Fame and a fellow WFU '04 alum) and oh yes, Pitt County Memorial Hospital, where my husband is currently doing a rotation. ECU is on the list of possible residency locations so I thought it might behoove me to check out one of our potential areas of relocation... not to mention it'd been 7 days since I'd seen my husband and I was more than happy to pay him a visit too. I was truly pleasantly surprised by Greenville. I had a great tour guide, as one of our best friends and Matt's host, is a Greenville native and humored me with a driving tour complete with a stop to the local Wal-mart. I also saw a Harris Teeter and not one but two Starbucks so... I'm set! What I truly did see that I loved was that Greenville is one of those cities that is on that brink of revitalization. Mike drove me down what was the old Main St downtown area in it's tobacco hey-day and then over to the current "downtown" area, and every other building he pointed out was recently rehabbed, in the process of being rehabbed or just about to be rehabbed. It reminded me of one of my other favorite "work in progress" cities... B'more! (And maybe even Winston?) I just love picturing what potential lies beneath a dilapidated run-down warehouse. The places Mike took us out on Saturday night was a great example of the amazing rebirth of old architecture. After dinner at a yummy and obviously popular restaraunt called Starlight Cafe, we walked over to a recently renovated building that now houses a spa and a restaraunt called, appropriately, LA Lounge & Spa. Can't fault them for being ambigious. I'm always a little hesitant about places in the South that christen themselves with NY or LA references, generally finding the result to be an exaggerated stereotype. I haven't been to LA so I don't truly know what a LA bar looks like, but I didn't have any trouble imaging I was there once we walked inside. It was a very hushed decor, with palm and moss greenery everywhere, low light candles on deep dark tables and very, very pretty people. The martini list was extensive, creative and quite expensive. I had the Wall Street Red (Stoli Strawberi, cranberry juice & champagne). Kim and Matt both had something with pomegrante seeds floating in it, Mike had the Italian Kiss (of which I promptly stole his sugared strawberries, ingracious guest that I am!) and I believe Jason, inspired by our afternoon movie watching on Mike's new blu-ray, had the no fooling around 007. What more could you ask for in a city: a martini bar with bubble chairs and pomegrante garnished beverages in the same metropolils as a barbeque joint so old school they shut the doors when they run out of food? (We did not have any B's because they had run out. Of course.)

So, while I pledge to remain absolutely unbiased and open minded about our potential future cities of residences, I am pleased to say that I can now at least imagine carving out a life in one new place. Between martinis, starbucks, barbeque, and let's be honest - walmart - I could be all set. One site visited, a mere 29 to go.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bragging On My Sharebear

There are few people I love to talk to more than my mom. So while I only got about 10 hours of hanging out time with my mom, it was a restorative 10 hours after an emotionally turbulent (work-related) week. She landed at Greensboro at 2 pm, I had her in the car by 2:25 and by the time we hit I-40 I was already up to Wednesday's happening in the play by play of my drama-filled work week. Poor Mom. Did she get a word in edgewise until I was out the door Saturday morning? Probably not. We had a whirlwind day together, but it was great. I am so lucky to not only have my mom as a terrific mom - nuturing, compassionate, selfless but boundary-setting - but also to have her as a great friend. Friday after I picked her up we "popped in" to Ann Taylor (her idea! I swear!) and I popped out 2 pairs of pants, one sweater and one blouse happier. I suggested we go to Coldwater Creek afterwards, but she declined. Selfless, check. Then we stopped into Teeter to get some pita chips and hummus to tide us over until Katie got here and she ended up buying me a few things to fill my empty fridge. Nuturting, check. We went home and chatted over pita chips and wine, and she listened to my share all my thoughts, worries and concerns without judgement or unsolicited advice. Compassionate, check. When my sis got here, the three of us went to Riverburch where we dined on shared appetizers and salads and laughed so hard even the waiter wanted to know what was funny. (Ice cream cones on craiglists and naughty Shakespeare references. I'll tell you later.) Then we came home and talked some more, until I couldn't prop my eyelids open. Best friend, check. I am so lucky.

Fastest parental visit ever, considering she's 700 miles away! She's off to Charlotte to spend the rest of the weekend with the sis, and I'm off to the Y to give a talk on eating habits and then to Greenville to see the displaced hubby. What a weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thursday Night Football

Matt came home from Greenville today for a little Thursday night football against Clemson! It is just amazing to me how much the atmosphere of Wake Forest football games have changed in the four shorts years since we've graduated. It doesn't seem like that long ago that WFU football season was much more about what dress one would wear to the tailgate (since we usually left after tailgating) rather than what ranking we were or whether ABC or ESPN was going to be showing our games. These days the student section is packed to the brim and the glistening Deacon Tower are just two of the biggest changes in Wake football.... oh yea, and the fact that we actually win. On a regular basis. Not just against teams like Duke and Liberty. It's been tremendously fun being local alums and getting to experience our dear ol' alma mater becoming known as a football school.

This game, however, was not the best example of the new Wake football. We won but it was a teeth clenching game. Let's hope that the Navy game and this near miss are all we need to keep our humble, scrappy climb to the top attitude. GO DEACS!












I also got to see Krissy and her fiancee, Mastin, at the tailgate. I loved seeing her reaction to the tailgate apparel of the undergrads. Just one of the many "welcome to the South" experiences I had 8 years ago, and I love seeing my fellow Yankees reactions to these types of things.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Redefined

My best friend from 7th grade just had a baby on Friday.

Normally this would not be headline making news except for well, this is my blog and so I decide what makes the headlines. She's not my first friend to have a baby and not even the first of my peers to have a baby. But, when I look at pictures of my friend looking with down at her little one with the purest love and peace in her face, I have this sudden flashback to all the years I spent learning who this woman is and I am so struck by the idea that she has, in an instant, become suddenly and wholy redefined. In her glance, I see the same eyes that would light up with mischief as she would try and get me in trouble in social studies class in 7th grade by starting every question with "Mr. Finn, Meghan wants to know..." I see the same smile that registered joy and surprise at the simplicity of a swim in the cold Atlantic surf our family vacations in early April and the same determined brow that would furrow down as she rose to defend me against our priggish JV softball coach. I sense the same gentle manner that would turn a antisocial cat into a purring mushball and the same prideful tilt of her head that I saw the day she walked down the aisle. In one forever captured glance of the camera shutter eye, I saw the woman who I have known over 14 years become a mother. If I knew even one ounce of the love, compassion, loyalty and insatiable curiousity that this woman embodies, then that little boy is in store for an amazing life as her child.

Welcome to the world, JCS. You are in for a great ride.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cereal for Dinner

Matt packed up and left for Greenville today. It was a bit of an anticlimatic good-bye as he'll return for a 4-day weekend on Thursday. So really, his absence this week will be no more different than the 4-day night shift he pulled on his OB rotation or the 3-in-a-row nights he'll work on a regular basis in the ED. Only difference is rather than being 9 miles away, he's about 200 miles away. So, here I am watching Red Sox and eating cereal for dinner and waiting for my goodnight call- flashback to 2005, anyone?

Well, since we fell in love with 345 miles separating us, so what's another month of making the heart grow fonder?

Dishing It Out

One thing Winston-Salem is well known for is it's tremendous variety of places to get some good grub. However, we keep finding ourselves repeating the same places over and over again - because they're close (Kimonos/El Dorado), they're a good price (Kimonos/any mexican place/east coast wings), or we know they're tasty (Village Tavern, Village Tavern, Village... you get the point.) So the other day, we got a coupon for $10 off at Texas Land and Cattle. I have to say, generally I am not a huuuuge fan of steakhouses. My dad is a whiz on the grill and Matt has deftly picked up where he left off, and it's hard to justify going out and paying for steak when the men in your life can serve it up at home just as good, if not better. But, I'm a coupon-lovin' gal, so we thought we'd give it a try last night. My expectations were low. I was anticipating the environment of Texas Roadhouse (which Jamie loving refers to as the Wal-mart of steakhouses) with the cheesy "meals with alcohol flavors" theme a la Chili's based on their online menu.

I was wrong and I'm happy for it. The atmosphere was way nicer than I thought - just a small step below Riverburch caliber - and the food was delicious. No nutrition information posted online, which is about the only thing that disappointed me. Definitely a new one to add to our rotation.

Better yet, I am thinking of dishing up a new challenge for me and the hubby. Rather than rotate through our standard four (maybe now five), I am thinking that as our time may end here in Winston, we need to step up our dining experiences. I found this list on the WFU student homepage. From my best guess, it looks like there are close to 300 restaurants on there. Think we could knock them all off? We better get hungry...

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Only Constant is Change

The interview invitations have started rolling in - four, so far. It is hard to believe just a mere 2 1/2 years ago I was summoning up my "here we go" courage to move back down to Winston... and now I'm sad at the possibility of leaving! But, the possibilities are extremely open right now and the prospect of being somewhere else for a few years holds taps into my adventure-y side. After all, July marked one year in the same residence. That's a record I hadn't tapped since 2002. Woohoo, stability.

Speaking of staying home... for the first time months (it feels like), we are staying home this weekend. Sigh, glorious sigh. There's lemon square baking in the oven, our neighbors are coming up in 20 minutes for bbq chicken and Matt's taking a nap while I blog. THIS is what a relaxing weekend is all about.

A proper blogging of all summer events would have been ideal (since I do imagine this to be my one day digital scrapbook*), but a quick list/recap will suffice. In backwards order until I tire out:
  • 9/26-9/28: Rochester, NY for Fred & Michelle's Wedding
  • 9/19-9/20: Home but ran Salem Lake 10k & did a YMCA talk, Matt on call Saturday
  • 9/12-9/14: Matt on call Friday, dinner party with med school gang and a baby shower for Wake co-worker
  • 9/6-9/8: DC for Jen & Ryan's Wedding
  • 8/29-9/1: 3rd Year Party
  • 8/22-8/23: Cinema Under the Stars
  • 8/15-8/17: (Ok I lied. We took a breather this weekend.)
  • 8/8-8/10: Out in Charlotte with sis, sis-in-law and boyfriend of sis; home to Lincolnton the next day for an anniversary dinner (ours!)
  • 8/1-8/3: Erie, PA for Shelby & Brad's wedding
  • 7/25-7/27: Toronto, ON via Rochester, NY (where we stayed all week)
  • 7/18-7/20: Matt on "mancation" at the beach, Jamie and I ran Beat the Heat 5k
  • 7/11-7/13: Down to Lake Hickory to hang out with the Wards' and fancypants 4th Year Dinner at Old Towne Country Club
  • 7/4-7/6: 4th of July @ Warthogs Game
  • 6/27-6/29: Another breather weekend. Probably reloading groceries!
  • 6/20-6/22: up to mountain house with Zac & Jamie
  • 6/13-6/15: NYC for Shelby's Bachlorette Party
  • 6/6-6/8: Cookout party @ our house
  • 5/30-6/1: Raleigh, NC: Emily & Tim's Wedding
  • 5/23-5/25: Cherokee Lake, TN with Zac & Jamie
  • 5/15-5/17: Mom visiting for Katie's Masters' graduation and my birthday
  • 5/9-5/11: Saunders cookout
  • 5/2-5/4: Race for the Cure and Forseys host Cuatro de Mayo party
  • 4/25-4/27: Tampa, FL for Emily's bachlorette party
  • 4/17-4/19: Myrtle Beach, SC with fam and back to Lincolnton on Saturday for Adria's wedding
  • 4/11-4/13: Myrtle Beach, SC with fam
  • 4/4-4/6: Washington, DC for ipec graduation weekend

Wow. And I wonder sometimes why it seems like it's been weeks since I've done any laundry....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

Why is it so fun to take people to the place you grew up? You know no one gets as excited as you do about seeing your elementary school playground or the first place you ever bought wine with a fake ID, yet you still get that welling of pride as you show off the many facets of your old stomping ground. Maybe it's because we each have a story we want to tell about our lives, and visits to our hometown provide illustrations and references points that mere words and descriptions don't sufficiently bring to life.

This weekend Matt and I went home to Rochester along with a number of our other college friends for a wedding of a college friend who happened to grow up in the same city as I did. While a trip to Rochester, NY doesn't hold quite the same anticipation as a trip to the Big Apple or Windy City or City of Angels might, I do believe that beautiful Rochvegas did not disappoint my fellow travelers. (Either that, or they are simply too kind.) Rochester in the fall is simply beautiful too - especially if you are traveling north from the still-humid Southern states!

The wedding was a fantastic affair, made better by the reunion of friends who slept, ate and studied in close proximity for almost 4 years. The boys have a bond that has transcended the space that naturally fills in when friends graduate and go their separate ways. It is encouraging to see that their rapport picks up immediately wherever they last left off. In other words, they physically and verbally demolish one another immediately upon reconvening. Nothing like it.

We are defined not only by the landmarks we grew up around, but the people who populated those spaces with us. While I loved seeing my husband and his friends light up with each other's company, the highlight of my trip home was time spent with my Grandpa. What strikes me as odd is that in 26 years of my life, this was the first time I have hung out solo with my grandpa. I guess this isn't totally unusual, as most of my trips to see home would have been with family. Over an endless cup of Denny's coffee, I grew bold enough to ask all the questions about my grandmother I wish I had asked while she was alive. The stories of her childhood that he could recall, to the moment he saw her, the first years of their marriage. My version of my grandmother's life starts in 1982 and while every grandchild would love to assume they are the center of their grandparent's universe, I have always wondered what the 58 years of her life leading up to my entrance, stage right, entailed. Grandpa, fueled by caffeine and an English muffin, did not disappoint. Hearing descriptions of people I have never heard of who shaped my Grandma's life in her late 20s (my age now) as she met, married and mothered reminded me that I am part of a world so much greater than I but part of a family so tightly woven together. There is simply no way to get lost in a world where you are grounded by a family so dear, friends so genuine and a endearing love for the places that have witnessed these relationships.

Who says you can't go home?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Winston's Blocks are A-Rockin'

There is nothing like a street festival or fair to bring out the finest in any community. Last night, we went downtown to the Rock the Block festival. There was a huge outpouring of people in the streets and bands played on 4 different corners. I just kept looking around wondering where all these people were all the time. Does our wonderful city really and truly contain this many people? We got drinks at Foothills and headed outside to hear a band that vacillated from challenging Don Henley/Eagles vibes to pounding out some hard Seether/Nickelback. Good, if you could pry yourself away from the following distractions:

*Two young girls behind the drummer dancing with such violent hair whipping I wonder if their latissimus required RICE treatment the next day

*A strikingly bald fellow with a navy blue polo tucked into the most hiked up navy blue khakis, complemented by a little blue pinging light in his ear (yes, this gentleman apparently found it neccessary to wear his blue tooth the entire concert. Just in case he got that oh so important call, he could shout over Freebird..."What? I can't hear you! I'm at a concert! I do have a life!... oh.... I came alone.")

*An extremely unkempt middle age woman in a dirty jean skirt and bare feet dancing with a small tow headed child who was delirious from regular pop and staying up past her bedtime, and who quite obviously belonged to the man in a torn sleeve tank top and jorts who was busy hitting on the lady with the gypsy skirt and "all I need's a glow stick" hand motions

*And then there were these fellows....
A scrappier bunch could nar be found. (Thanks goes to Jamie, the picture is hers.) Who says you can't have fun in med school?
We had a great time though, and it was nice to get to do something a little different from our usual weekend routines. Winston is growing up quickly and it's exciting to see it's nightlife and it's population growing and shifting as it discovers what kind of city it wants to be.

Chapter Two: Introduction

My Second Blog.
About Two People.
In their Second Year of marriage.