Monday, November 29, 2010

A Marathon of a Turkey Day

Well...our Turkey Day was a marathon indeed.  Probably the busiest thanksgiving of my life.  In fact it was so epically busy that I had to take time out of my vacation to describe the jam-packed November 25th that I experienced this year.  So here it goes...

Laura's and my thanksgiving started not at the crack of dawn, but before the crack of dawn.  Like the moon was still out and the stars were still shining, although since it was drizzling and cloudy we really couldn't tell.  We could just tell that it was still pitch black because it was 5:30 in the morning.  Yes, Laura ran the Atlanta half Marathon which starts at 7:30 am on Thanksgiving Day.  I was super proud of her for training hard for this race and I wanted to get her there in enough time to stretch, bathroom, etc so we left at 6 am.  Now, there's one thing you need to know about me.  I despise Atlanta traffic, so you can imagine that I almost blew a gasket when I-75 comes grinding to a halt like 3 miles from where we needed to be this early in the morning.  Fortunately, we were able to find a back way in and get Laura to the start with enough time to park, get a portable bathroom, and stretch out.  Here's my amazing runner girl pre-race!
This was the start of her grouping.
So, at 7:36 she crossed the starting line on her way through a long 2 hour metabolic trail of tears.  Now, the question was, what was I going to do for the next 2 hours.  Well, I did some reading and ate some breakfast, and took a little snooze in the car and then I heard over the loud speaker that the leader of the marathon was about 2 miles away, so a got out of the car and decided I should line the finish line to cheer on these modern day exercise gladiators.  After he crossed the finish line, many more athletes began to cross so the cheering began so I stayed around to do my spectator duties, ever vigilant to find my wife streaking down to the finish line in a blur of aqua blue.  I did see her coming down to the finish line and was able to take a great video of her pushing through to the end with me cheering. Her family was a little further up on the race course so unfortunately you can't here them.
She crossed the finish line with an outstanding time of 2 hours 2 minutes, got her amateur olympic medal, and then proceeded to the family meeting area to meet up with me and her family, as well as to chow down on some much needed fluids and gummy fruits.  Here are some of those pictures.
And here is her biggest fan with her awesome family who put off thanksgiving cooking to cheer her on!

It was very bright for this picture, hence all of the squinting and painful looks.

So after Laura claimed her victory, we went home and finished up the thanksgiving meal cooking and eventually filled our bellies with yummy sausage stuffing, green bean casserole, squash casserole, home made rolls, turkey and gravy and cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes.  Pretty classic and very delicious.  After the main dinner, we wrapped up our culinary adventure with pecan, apple, and pumpkin pie.  It was a great holiday with wonderful family and friends!  We hope you also had a wonderful holiday with a lot to be thankful for in your life!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Fall Y'all!

So I figured that I had to post this today - given that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I will officially be out of time to post about fall decorating! Especially since people normally are ready to decorate for Christmas as soon as the Thanksgiving meal is through!

When we bought our house last year, we had fun buying things to decorate the house with. Last fall, we bought a few things on a very small budget. So this year, it was really fun to supplement with new decorations. We made the most of our money by waiting until the LAST minute to buy decorations. And we got most of them on sale or on clearance.

Here's our mantel - before we added our new wreath. This wreath was a hand-me-down from my mom, the leaves were decorations from last year, and the vase and 4-candle display are year round decorations for us.
The candlesticks on the left I got at a garage sale for about $2 each this past summer. They were originally brass and I spray painted them oil-rubbed bronze to make them a little more updated. 

Here's the during pic - I spray painted  them with primer first. Yes, I did these INSIDE the house- bad idea, but I only got away with it because it was super hot outside and Jason was outta town - I did live to regret this decision late since there were little brown specks everywhere afterwards!
And after!
Here's the mantel with our new wreath that we got last weekend for just $15 at Sam's Club! (in an artistic sideways shot by hubby)
For the table - I got an idea from this post (scroll down to the video: Simple Crafts on the Cheap) Young House Love (my fave blog of all time). The idea was to buy some simple burlap, cut it to size, and take as many strands out as you like for a fringe. Here's a pic and video of me doing the project.

For the table centerpiece - we bought a vase from Michaels (with a 40% off coupon!) for about $10, got some fake pumpkins on clearance for $3 a box, and laid out from fake leaves and acorn from last year's decor. The finished project: 

And the honorable guest to the post - that was NOT photographed is our favorite candle "Autumn Leaves" by Yankee Candle - which I got on clearance last year at Cracker Barrel. Well that's it! HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Goin' to the Chapel

On November 6th, one of my best friends, Catie Davenport (now Thompson) got married. I was so happy and privileged to share in her special day as a bridesmaid. Here's a pic of Catie, Julianna and me. I got to know Catie when she moved into our apartment my Junior year. We had so many fun memories of staying up late talking together. I miss both of these girls so much now that I don't get to see them everyday! I am so happy for Catie and Charles and got to see their whole love story unfold from beginning to end. Congrats Catie!

This fall and winter are turning out to be huge wedding months! Tons of people I know have chosen this time of the year for their big day. Before Catie's big day, Jason and I braved Friday evening Atlanta traffic by leaving work and school early in Augusta. We made it to the rehearsal, although we were a little late. After the rehearsal at Johns Creek Baptist Church we enjoyed an amazing home-made dinner prepared by Charles' mom. the dinner really reminded me of Thanksgiving because everyone was seated at one long table, the room was warm and cozy, and the food was absolutely delicious! Here's a pic of the bridesmaids - minus Hannah who had to leave early :( .
Roomies Reunited!
That night, Julianna trekked over to Marietta with Jason and I and we enjoyed some time together. The next morning we were up early and left for the church where we got ready and waited for Catie and photographer.
Catie arrives and is greeted by her grandmother and the cute little flower girls. 
Finally the pictures were done and the wedding was here! At 2pm Catie and Charles became husband and wife. The ceremony went off without a hitch. Here's some pics of the reception...
The cake Catie made for Charles
The garter... 
Jason, Julianna, and I 
The boquet toss
Off they go! 
Congratulations Catie and Charles! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kitchen Fixins

So, Laura has recently delved into home-made cooking full force.  She has always enjoyed making things but mainly focused on bread, pies, brownies, cakes, and more bread.  But recently we have decided that it has become more budget friendly to plan dinners.  Now, we plan a couple of meals for the week ahead and make them over the weekend.  This has been awesome!  Laura has made some awesomely yummy dishes.  However, the problem now seems to be that we don't have enough room in our freezer for all of the left overs.  Two people just can't eat 3 entire casseroles and 2 desserts in two or three days.  In light of all of this, Laura has cranked out some yummylicious dishes which, because they were so good, I decided to share them with the greater public so y'all too could enjoy some heart-warming, soul-melting, comfort-giving vittals.

One of the first dishes Laura made was a home made minestrone soup.  Now, I for one, don't gravitate toward odd vegetables even though I know they are good for me, so I was a little skeptical when spinach, and zucchini, and kidney beans, and onions were being thrown into the boiling cauldron.  But honestly, when this soup was finished, it was really tasty and super good for you.  I liken it to eating an entire vegetable garden in a bowl.  The soup had great flavor and many different veggies for a complete balanced meal.  And to put it another way, Laura judges the quality of minestrone by if she has to add salt or graded paremesan cheese.  None of those ingredients became an addition.  Straight up plane Jane worked for us!  So all in all, this minestrone rocked our world and we hope it rocks yours as well.

Here is the recipe for the scrumptious, vegetable-garden-in-a-bowl minestrone soup.

This is what it looked like in the pot...mmm...
The next delicious dish that Laura made was actually a recipe from Paula Dean that she got from her mom.  They were pumpkin bars.  These were no ordinary pumpkin bars however, these pumpkin bars ignited a party in my mouth and my taste buds went a little loco!  These little guys were pretty much better than regular pumpkin pie.  I'll get your saliva glands a flowing with a few photos before I give way this most sumptuous of fall desserts.

So now that you've seen what this dessert can look like, go forth, bake, and taste this incredible fall delicacy by accessing the recipe by clicking here!

Well I hope that you enjoyed this posting and I hope you seriously do get to try these two recipes that we have discovered.  They really are awesome and as Laura continues to furiously combine flavors, fend off the searing heat of the oven, and produce amazing meals, we will let you know but you should let us know what you think after tasting these and hopefully you'll agree that these dishes are the epitome of common folk culinary art.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blogging Challenge - Day 8 - China: A place I've travelled to

One of the really cool places that I've traveled to has to be China. I find myself talking about this trip a lot since it really was SOOOO different from any other place I've ever been.

I was in the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band for my freshman and sophomore years of college. Lucky for me, the redcoats got invited during my sophomore year to visit 6 cities in China during the summer after my sophomore year (Summer 2006). Although it wasn't an all-expenses paid trip, we got an amazing deal, especially considering that all of our flights (even inside of the country), our hotels, our food, and other travel expenses were included in the cost. Here are some photos from a quite amazing trip to the other side of the world.

We spent much of our trip like this - in a bus, listening to a Chinese tour guide.
 Here's a good example of what the food was like in China. They always served us WAY to much food!
 I'll never forget the restaurant that we went to that had frogs and other animals like this in the lobby!
My friend Keriann and I in the silk-making factory. (I'm a little ashamed that I still wear those khaki shorts 5 years later!)
 Soon after we arrived in Tianamen Square.
 As part of a tour we had wontons at an old lady's house.
 Hanging out with some great friends in a Chinese garden. 
 I couldn't resist going inside a Chinese Wal-Mart to see what it was like!
Us in our redcoats - about to perform! Good times!
 One of our audiences...

Until next time...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blogging Challenge - Day 7 - My Favorite Movies

This one is hard because I really don't like watching movies more than once, unless I wait like 5-10 years in between. A movie has to be REALLY good for me to want to watch it more than once. I recently got Netflix which I LOVE because I can watch new movies all the time- and watch movies streaming on-demand! I am especially wowed by the fact that I can stream movies to my iphone!

My favorite movies are....
  1. Gone with the Wind
  2. Forrest Gump
  3. Braveheart
  4. Gladiator
  5. Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum
  6. Casino Royale
  7. Iron Man 
  8. Inception - best movie of the year so far! Would definitely watch more than once!
  9. Zoolander
  10. My Best Friend's Wedding
  11. Meet the Parents 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloweekend how I'm describing our life during the last few days of October and because Laura has been busy with her 30 day blog challenge, I offered to write this post about our weekend.  So I hope you enjoy my vain attempts to captivate you with an awesome anecdote of our life experiences.

Since this is the first halloween weekend that we were going to be in our house, we assumed that we would have a bunch of little munchkins knocking on our door, saying "twick o tweet", and then promptly stuffing their little face with sugary goodness.  As I thought about preparing for this truly bizarre tradition when you think about it, my first instinct was to eliminate our role in contributing to childhood obesity by providing more healthy alternatives, like raisin boxes or fruit cups or fiber one bars.  That thought was promptly nixed by my lovely bride saying that all I want to do is to destroy childhood for all American children.  So we bought candy.  Prepared with candy we realized that we needed some outdoor accessories, especially since our neighborhood decorates for halloween like it's Christmas.  Fortunately, our opportunity came when some friends of ours, Daryl and Celia, invited us over to a pumpkin carving party.

This was a fun experience, albeit a little messy, and frustrating since we drove to the moon and back looking for good pumpkins to carve.  Advice - get a pumpkin before the Halloween weekend.  Eventually we found some good ones and headed over to the party.  We were among talented pumpkin artists complete with patterns and specialized carving tools.  These people put my generic face pumpkin to shame.  But it was still fun.  We got into it and Laura was ambitious by trying to carve an owl on a tree branch from a pattern to fit in with our pumpkin Picasso's and Rembrandt's.  I chose a generic face but got a little creative by using the pumpkin guts to make him look like he's throwing up. Ew, I know, but it is Halloween after all.  By the way, if you want some interesting ideas for pumpkins next year, check this out!

So after we finished carving our pumpkins, we went transported them to our porch and waited to put candles in them the next day to attract the candy pursuing young ones.  The pumpkins looked great the next day on the porch except that unfortunately Laura's labor of pumpkin carving love - the owl, fell/twisted backwards and now looked like a bat hanging up-side down on the branch.  At least that's what it looked like during the daylight.

However, when it got dark outside and we put the candles in the pumpkins as lighthouses to attract the neighborhood kids, I realized that Laura could not have carved a more perfect piece of thong underwear!

Anyway, we had a great time as first time passers-of-candy-to-kids-who-dress-up-and-say-trick-or-treat.  We say the gambit of costumes from Iron Man to Buzz Lightyear. From Geishas to Fairies.  From Luigi to Goblins and beyond.  One of my favorites was a little 3 and half foot tall police officer.  When he came to the door he said the traditional trick or treat.  Then I asked him if he was going to arrest me for which I got a blank stare and another "trick or treat."  I had to chuckle.  It was a good evening.

Now remember that I do enjoy pyrotechnics as a hobby on a grand scale (July 4 shows, etc) but also on a small scale, so when all the kiddies were back in bed, I tried a fun little experiment with my pumpkin.  I had some left over magnesium flares from awhile ago that I decided to put in the pumpkin to see what would happen.  The result was something entertaining.  Take a look.

I especially enjoyed when smoke was just pouring out my pumpkins eyes.  Well, that about wraps up our last weekend in October.  I think it was a great way to kick off November, but you can decide and let us know! 


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