Sunday, January 31, 2010

Italian Theme Night: Bruschetta, Cupcakes and Guitar Hero.

Whoever came up with the idea of potlucks, I’d like to officially nominate them for party hall of fame awards. (Pretty sure it’d be right up there with parties involving foam, that one where you have to go hand cuffed to your date, and my cowboys & ballerina themed birthday party. Where some of the cowboys dressed up as ballerinas.) I DIGRESS.

A few days ago, we realized it was going to be one of those rare stars-colliding weekend where all the boys had the same Saturday night off. (Although, sadly, Locke had to go in at 5 am… but he was a trooper and made it out anyways!) Someone suggested a potluck – Italian themed – and in a matter of hours, we all had our designated dishes decided.

Hosting a dinner party and cooking just one-sixth of the food served? YES PLEASE.

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Who’s cooking in my kitchen? Not me!

We were all a little nervous the impending snowstorm was going to keep our shindig from happening, but everyone braved the storm with either trusty SUVs or Chicago/Utah driving instincts and while the ground froze over, the party heated up.

Everyone’s food was delicious, and the cabin fever we’d all been experiencing turned otherwise benign games like Scattergories and Cranium into shouts, shrieks and slander. Just your typical board game experience, right? From board games, we moved on to Guitar Hero, which quickly became divisive as spouses went up against each other.

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Not sure whether that is the look of a surprised winner or chagrined loser. You decide.

It’s funny how sometimes the most impromptu, informal plans can become the most fun nights. It makes me very thankful that we have friends who will brave snowstorms and show up with fettuccine at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t get any better than that right?

Unless, of course, I could actually beat those friends at Guitar Hero.

(PS, the requisite photos of all the food are on MegEats. Go here for some drool-worthy pics.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Greatest Snow on Earth

What does one do when the state that claims “The Greatest Snow on Earth” delivers on its promise….

and then some?

Our trip to Utah was one for the books. On the day we arrived there, the bases of the resorts we were looking at – Park City, Solitude and Canyons – weren’t so great. But the morning we woke up to hit the slopes? Why, he-lloooooo snow. All in all, we ended up getting somewhere around 30 inches over the course of 3-4 days. Our first trip out to Utah 2 years ago, I was sold on this snow. Give me west coast snow any day. But this time we had powder. Big white fluffy doesn’t hurt to fall down in powder. And lots of it. I have never experienced anything like this.

The first couple runs we’d do each day – where no one else had gone down the hill – were brutal. The snow was so deep, you had no choice but to just bomb it as fast as you could. If you fell, you were basically sitting in a bath tub of snow and trying to lift yourself up. It made a couple of those early morning half marathon training runs feel like a piece of cake.

But it was man, it was fun.

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Snow…. and sun! It wasn’t every day we got treated to the blue skies, too. Park City Resort, afternoon.

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Is that Idaho I see?

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Boards at Rest.

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Yes, that would be my 6’4” husband in waist-deep snow. Crazy.

Can we go back now?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Park City Sans Skis

On our first full day in Park City, we looked at the snow bases of the major resort and scowled. It wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be. I know, I know… here we are flying hundreds of miles, leaving a part of the country where ice granules are constitute your winter sport base material and we were denying ourselves a day on the slopes. But, we heard a rumor big snow was coming and we were willing to be patient. With that decision made, we pondered what to do with ourselves.

It was Sunday. There was football on. That decision, for the boys, was made rather quickly.

It was a beautiful, almost warm (by Utah winter standards) day and Jamie and I decided we would both be perfectly content to sling our Rebels on our neck and set off to explore the city by foot and f-stop.

I adore this little city. Although it is quite a tourist mecca, between the ski slopes and Sundance, it still manages to keep a quaint, sleepy, Main Street feel to it. (A Main Street with million dollar residences, but a Main Street nonetheless.) One of my favorite things about it is the town lift – a chair lift that brings people straight off the slopes into town. As we walked along a side street, many restaurants had skis and boards stacked outside as people took a break from the slopes for a slice of pizza or hot sandwich.

Loves this city. Loves it even more with a sunshiney day and a best friend and a very large SD card. Sigh.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Another Self-Indulgent Food Post

It’s always something of a gamble, telling your friends about your favorite eating establishment. For most people, part of what it so delicious is the nostaliga that is so intricately woven into the flavors of the food that you begin to lose the ability to describe what exactly it is that makes you love it so much. I always feel this way describing Pontillo’s, my hometown’s local pizza place, because I know that it's magic is one part grease puddles on curled up pepperoni’s and one part memories of ordering pizza at everything from slumber parties to after-prom parties.

When we first met our friends Zac and Jamie, they would tell us about this place they loved to eat in Utah called “Cafe Rio.” To me, it didn’t sound like that big a deal. How much different could it be then Q’doba or Moe’s, or any of the other countless Mexican restaurants that we have in Winston? I mean, c’mon. It’s a burrito, not your first love.

When we first flew out to Utah in 2008 with Zac and Jamie, Cafe Rio was on the to do list.

When we flew out to Utah this week with Zac and Jamie, I made it abundantly clear that I wanted to visit Cafe Rio, not once but twice. They happily obliged, grinning ear to ear, knowing that Rio had another victim, hook, line and sinker.

Guys, I’m sorry for any shred of disbelief I ever held about its deliciousness and I’ll be taking a vat of this creamy tomatillo sauce home in my carry-on now, thanks.

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How can a salad be so very magical?

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Don’t mess with this guy. That’s an empty burrito tin there.

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Que Deliciosa.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I wake up from a heavy sleep to discover the flat plains of Texas have been replaced by a landscape so contradictory to anything I have ever known.  Sharp angular peaks, with frosted tops, cover the horizon as far as I can see.  The Rockies are so unlike any landscape I’ve even seen; they literally take my breath away.  I scan the peaks as the plane crawls along, and I notice signs of occupation are few and far between in the occasional valley.  It occurs to me then, how these mountains have outlasted anyone who called them home, as they will outlast anyone to come.  They are eternal, overwhelming in their beauty and magnitude, yet humble in the way that only something so great can be.  In the face of these rugged mountains, I see a reminder of who and what my glorious God is staring back at me. 

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Oh how I missed doing this... obviously, vacation/traveling made blog updating difficult, but I've been mentally writing my lists nonetheless. A few months of regularly doing a gratitude journal have made my brain almost act like a radar detector for good things. I'll be plodding through my day, checking off the to do list (my other favorite list to make) when all of a sudden this little voice pops up and goes "Oh! I like this! I'm happy!" and I mentally add it to my grateful list. I've been blathering about this gratitude journal thing for awhile now, and it's been really neat to hear from a few people who started doing one too and have seen the positive effects. So without further ado, I bring you this week's Thankful Thursday.
  • My Grandpa making it through a week of a health scare and successfully coming through surgery. He's a tough cookie, even for an 89 year old.
  • My mom, on that note, for her patience, compassion and caregiving. And for just being her. I like her.
  • My husband, for numerous reasons, this week. First, he's been a great advocate and resource for my mom with all his knowledge and help. Second, I mentioned once that I was stressed about getting everything done this week before we left for Utah and came home the next day to a clean house, 2 loads of a laundry and empty dishwasher and I think he even refilled the Crystal Light pitcher. Listen, men, housework trumps jewelery, flowers and Build-A-Bears any day. (And really, the Build-A-Bears are creepy.)
  • VACATION. Nothing like having working for 2 weeks and taking another week off right? But the snowy peaks of Park City call to us, and off we go. I'm also grateful for a week with the 4-C's. And Cafe Rio.
  • Dreaming in Spanish. I know this sounds weird, but it made me happy that my subconscious reminded me I still could still speak and comprehend Spanish, since I don't have a chance to use it "in real life." I also dreamt about being back in Sevilla, and that's a wish list for a whole other day.
  • Learning. I went to a talk given by a MD/MPH from Hopkins on a weight loss trial they just finished up and I remembered how much I love learning/being in a class. Not that "back to school" is on my list... but perhaps more conferences in 2010?
  • The hint of warmer weather around the corner. (Which we are of course leaving behind.)
  • The hint of progression from the Budster... baby steps. It's been a really good week for him. (And for us, consequently.)
  • A new potential client I am super-excited about. She is adorable.
  • My sister
  • The puffiness of my prednisone-face has finally subsided. I look in the mirror and see *me* again and I'm grateful for that. Even though, at the time, I was also grateful for prednisone.
  • Getting to see Jen + Ryan at Christmas. Seattle is too far. Come home, guys.
  • Letting go of a completely arbitrary expectation I set for myself, and the relief that followed.
  • Mastering risotto. Finally.
  • Passion for my job. It feels good to like what you do each day.
  • Library books
  • Learning how to make homemade sushi
  • Going to bed early
  • My new food processor, Christmas gift from my hubby
  • Heather, my meditation cheerleader. I tell her I fell asleep, she tells me there's no such thing as bad meditation.
  • The samples that come with a Sephora order (really - it's the little things.)
  • 1 month of health. (Ok, and also, the big things.)
Good to be back. So, friends, what's on your list?

Is it mutual, Cuisinart? Do you love me as much as I love you?
Please say yes.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

2009: Year in Review

I filled this out last year for the first time, after seeing it on a blog I read regularly. It was a great way to review the past year, so without further ado, I present… 2009 in review.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Bought a house. Raised a dog. Cooked a holiday meal. Hired an intern. Remove the giblets from a whole chicken.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn’t make any at New Year’s… I like to make them year-round. Keeps me on my toes.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My childhood best friend had her first in June, a sweet little girl named Reese.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
A former participant of mine passed away in the fall – it happened out of the blue and was very sad.

5. What countries did you visit?
The lovely Dominican Republic. And of course, the Redneck Riviera. (Aka Myrtle Beach.)

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A more specific marketing plan for my business.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 19th – Match Day

May 18th – Matt’s Med School Graduation

April 29th – Closing day on our house

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Deciding and committing to starting the book that’s been floating around my head for 2 years.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Trying to make black bean soup from scratch.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A lovely colitis flare in September.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A HOUSE! How bout that?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My awesome, hard-working husband – he made me a bed this year! And a table! My friends who supported me and took care of me during my colitis flare. My intern.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
It seems like anyone who had a TV show on TLC kind of dropped the ball on integrity this year. (Not you, Stacy and Clinton, you’re still good in my book.)

14. Where did most of your money go?
Harris Teeter, student loans, Home Depot, Village Tavern and heyyy now, who’s got a mortgage like a big girl? Sigh. Me.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Wino Wedding and Wino Engagement, my photography class, getting a new camera lens + food processor (I think I knocked Matt over with excitement), matching here in Winston, my “personal development” project with Heather, going to a nutrition conference in March and the changes my business has gone through this year: more clients, an intern, and an e-newsletter. Yea, I’d say I’m easily excited.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? I’m having a hard time picking one – I’d have to say Ingrid Michaelson – Maybe (since I really got hooked on her this year), Kings of Leon – Revelry (because this is what played the most in our house) and Black Eyed Peas – I Got A Feeling… just cos, why not.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder?b) thinner or fatter?c) richer or poorer?
Happier. Equally thin. Slightly richer, what with the husband joining the workforce.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Gone out. Traveled. Wrote. Prayed. Listened. (I wrote this answer last year, and turns out I’m keeping it.)

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Complained. Judged. Gossiped. Whined. (Dit-to.)

20. How did you spend Christmas?
In Lincolnton with my in-laws, then flew up to Rochester to be with my family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
With a furry 26 pound bundle of anxiety. I love my little noodle dog.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Biggest Loser

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?
The Secret and Animal Vegetable Miracle

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Ingrid Michaelson, The Hush Sound, Glee, Glee and mooooore Glee.

26. What did you want and get?
A new camera lens and a food processor. A greater sense of peace and contentment. A really big cozy bed.

27. What did you want and not get?
To complete another half marathon. Thank you, colitis.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Precious, most definitely.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
27 – I shared my hubby’s graduation party, which meant we had lots of friends and family in town.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Cheaper air fare and more Starbucks gift cards.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Professional Comfy, heavily influenced by Ann Taylor Loft.

32. What kept you sane?
Going to bed early, my husband, prayers, a gratitude journal, good health insurance, cheap wine and friendship.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
It’s still Bob Harper and Oprah, but I’d probably toss Michael Pollan in there for good measure now.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Judge me if you must, but I’ve stopped paying attention to Washington.

35. Who did you miss?
My parents, my sis, and far-flung friends.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Wives of new interns moving to Winston – I am so excited and blessed by their new friendships.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
You are what you think.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

It’s time to trust my instincts / close my eyes and leap - Defying Gravity from Wicked, The Musical

Good-bye, 2009. You were a lovely, lovely year. I think I can partially credit this to starting a gratitude journal this year (and Thankful Thursday) but this year I have just felt so attuned all the wonderful blessings in my life. Even in the midst of some challenges (I’m talking to YOU, Buddy….), life just felt wonderful and full. I welcome 2010 with even greater expectations and wonder what will transpire by the time I sit down to do this next year.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Worst Day of the Year

Yesterday, January 4th was the worst day of the year, according to my sister’s Facebook status.  Immediately after she posted this, every single teacher she is friends with agreed, including my mother and my high school English teacher. 

The “dreading going back to work” statement was all over Facebook the night of January 3rd.  I can’t say I was doing backflips about going back to work, especially because that meant I’d actually have to brush my hair and get out of my pajamas … but I didn’t find myself dreading it either. 

I truly enjoy my job.  Even the more tedious parts, like paper work and data entry, give me a sense of accomplishment when I finish them.  Monday was just a typical day for me; it didn’t really feel at all like the “reality check” I was expecting.  I got to the office early, treating myself to a chai latte along the way.  I prepped for the week, getting my schedule ready, reviewing notes from my pre-holiday calls, and getting handouts ready for classes.  Mid-day I taught my first post-holiday class, and was pleasantly surprised to find that only a small percentage of people in my group had gained any weight over the holidays.  Most had either lost or stayed the same over the three week hiatus we had had.

Today started off with three coaching sessions, all very motivating and fun and productive.  I spent the rest of the day doing some paper work and reading, including snuggling up with a very exciting 10-journal-article packet on supplements.  Not exactly the same as cuddling up with the fourth Twilight book, as I had been doing over the holidays, but Twilight doesn’t exactly pay the grocery bills. 

Tonight, Matt and I are having dinner with the emergency medicine department and then I’m dropping dinner off for a girl in our resident-spouses group who just had a baby and is wrapping up maternity leave.  It’s been right back into the swing of things, but I can’t say I’ve really minded.  I have a lot on my plate this year and some pretty big plans for 2010, but I’m ready to see them into action. 

If yesterday really was the worst day of 2010, then it can only get better from here. 


Totally unrelated to post content.  But a picture-less post seems so wrong.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Road Trip

Matt and I drove straight home from Winston, and made it all the way there in a little more than eleven hours.  As nice as it was to get it out of the way in one day, I knew that when I went back by myself (with the pupster) I’d want to break it into a 2 day trip.  Fortunately for me, the roads from Pittsford to Winston are littered with far-flung friends and relatives.  (I meant littered in the nicest way possible, far flung friends and relatives.)  I decided to stop in Fredericksburg overnight, which added an extra hour to both days, but meant that I’d get to stay with my aunt, who is both a gourmet cook, a heavy handed wine pour and a fabulous storyteller.  She’s also got two wall-to-wall bookshelves and heavy slant towards cookbooks and food writers (Michael Pollan, Nina Plack, Mark Bittman.)  In other words: oasis, much?

I got on the road Wednesday after a late start, delayed by the threat of snow flurries.  With Buddy buckled in the back seat, a bag of road trip snacks (grapes, apples, and Wegmans gummis) besides me, and a fully charged iPod we set out.  Using a map.   That’s right, I decided to forego the all-knowing TomTom, which wanted me to take major highways to F-burg, in favor of the route my Dad highlighted on a map 11 years ago when he first took me down to look at Wake Forest.  While you give up 70 mph speed limits, you get New York Finger Lakes, rural farm lands in Pennsylvania and horse country in Virginia in exchange.  The 35-mph towns would probably frustrate most people, but I rarely do road trips with a deadline in mind with my propensity to stop for Mt. Dew refills every 2 hours anyways. 

road trip

I arrived in Fredricksburg after 8 hours on the road, and I was welcomed by my Aunt, her excited Cairn Terrier and her affectionate one-eyed kitty (a rescue from a kitty mill).  She poured me a glass of wine, as I hung over the counter in her kitchen and watched her put dinner together – roasted Cornish Game Hen, cranberry rice pilaf and roasted beets and shallots over arugula and goat cheese.  (Yes, Mom, I asked if I could help and I did put my dishes in the dishwasher.)  After dinner, we curled up near a roaring fire and she entertained me with family stories, including telling me about my Grandparent’s first encounter, first date and marriage proposal.  We talked until I had to prop my eyelids up, and then I shuffled off to bed. That night I slept under a quilt made by my grandmother, flanked on either side of me with my own little pup dog and one-eyed Kee Cat. 

I barely got on the road the next morning, held up by more ice, more stories from my Aunt and the most delicious latte. I did finally pack up the car and say my good-byes, and got back on the road.  Only before I could get to Winston, I had one more pit stop.

When I was reviewing the route with my Dad, I noticed that one of my many options of Fredericksburg to Winston included passing near or through Charlottesville.  One cannot travel mere miles from a wino without stopping in to say hello!  I pulled off the highway in Charlottesville and zig-zagged through the mountainous streets until I found Jess’s house.  As Buddy and Ivy forlicked in the snow (from 2 weeks ago!) in her backyard, Jess and I cuddled up with a cup of coffee – a break from writing her dissertation, a break from the growing monotony of the highway.  I could have stayed all day, but I knew I’d regret it as night fell and I was still on the road. 

I made it home around 5 that night, road-weary and completely uninterested in anything but eating dinner, taking a shower and going to bed.  Sad to admit though, since it was New Year’s Eve!  Matt and I cooked dinner together, and toasted to the New Years with Crystal Light, as he prepped to go to work and I was completely wine-d out (what?!) form my week at home.  He headed in around 10, and I clicked the lights off at eleven.  When the ball dropped on 2010, I was far gone into dreamland, putting another long but lovely journey behind me.