Thursday, April 28, 2011

Come on, weekend!

Big things happening this weekend! On a night when I never have plans (Friday), I have plans. The studio I go to for zumba is having another zumba party and I'm guest instructing. I made a new shirt (stay tuned for that next week)! I'm really excited about this and also looking forward to burning some serious calories prior to pigging out on snacks and drinks.

Then on Saturday, I'm taking part in our development's community-wide garage sale. John thinks this is hilarious. He has been not-so-silent about his thinking I won't sell a darn thing. Perhaps I won't but you don't know until you try, right? There are 46 houses participating, which is a small fraction compared to the amount of houses in the development as a whole. But, if you were out for a day of garage sale-ing, 46 stops would be a ton! I'm the only house on my street participating. This isn't great. I hope that means folks don't pass me by. Every single household got a list of participants and a map. It was also advertised in the local paper and on Craigslist. I don't really have much to sell since we just moved in the last 6 months and purged a lot at that time. But, I figure if I make $50 I will be a happy camper. I haven't totaled up my potential receipts if miracles do exist and I sell everything. Better to be astounded at my take. Mostly, I want to get rid of this LARGE corner desk that we got cajoled into purchasing from the previous owners for $36. If I make $37 on it, that's pure profit! I just want it out of my house. We have no need for it. NO NEED!

Here's a stroke of luck for the day......NO RAIN! Here in Ohio, we've had mass amounts of rain this April but on Saturday, 70 degrees and sunny. This will give me the opportunity to spend 5 hours outside taking some of the blinding white off my legs. Last Saturday I read outside in the sun for 2 hours but it didn't even make a tint on my winter white girl skin.

So, let's review why this will be an awesome day:

1) Potential money maker even if only slightly lucrative
2) Possible removal of monstrosity of a desk
3) First real chance to get some sun in 2011
4) Meeting neighbors. We still haven't met anyone yet and I'm hoping if I'm parked outside all day, someone is bound to say hello. I may use Sadie to lure them in.

I only hope I'm not setting myself up for disappointment. John is certain that I am. He will be inside glued to the continuous NFL draft coverage. I won't be sad to miss that. But, he better be prepared help sell, or else I'll be taking all of my earnings to the mall. Alone.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hell's Corner

Last week I ventured to the library in the hopes of finding something to pull me out of my reading rut. I didn't have much time so my only stop was the "NEW" addition shelf. I say "new" because most of these books were released in 2010 or even 2009, and here we are in 2011. But, I'll take what I can get. Instead of hitting numbers this year as far as book goals go, I am focusing more on reading authors that are as yet undiscovered be me. David Baldacci, popular and bestselling as he is, is one such author.

Hell's Corner is the latest instllatment in the Camel Club series by Baldacci. I did not realize until the very end that there are 4 books preceding this one dealing with the same characters. Oops! Anyway, it follows the events of a bombing in Lafayette Park, also known as Hell's Corner (see title), across from the White House. Former CIA agent Oliver Stone, AKA John Carr, finds himself smack in the middle of the bombing, crime scene and also the investigation despite being out of the government biz for a number of years. The bomb is believed to have been an attempt on the life of England's Prime Minister and thus, Mary Chapman, an MI6 agent, is also brought on board to assist.

As the two delve deeper into the investigation and try to catch the baddies, more and more players end up dead and things seem exceedingly fishy. Stone and Chapman (with the help of the Camel Club) begin to realize they are being played throughout the investigation and the opposition is one step ahead of them with sabotage at every turn. It's a race to the end to discover what or who was really behind the bombing while trying to stay alive, unlike some of their unlucky co-investigative agents.

This brief synopsis was difficult because I didn't want to give away too much. I have been pulled out of my reading rut! I loved this book. It was a thriller full of suspense and intrigue. And, because I'm not very good at figuring out whodunit ahead of time, it kept me guessing right up until the very end. There were lots of surprises, twists, and turns and more than once I gasped out loud while reading. John always laughs at me when that happens but I don't care. I didn't want to put it down and subsequently, finished it in about 2 1/2 days. If you are into thrillers, check this one out! I'm headed back to the library soon to start at the beginning of the Camel Club's adventures. And I think I found a new author to add to my list! Yea hooray!

Rating: * * * *

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #16

Happy Easter, everyone!! This is a dangerous holiday because of all the readily available candy. We are lucky, or unlucky, that our parents still treat us as children on this day and give us Easter baskets. Yea! I could eat a Cadbury egg every day of my life. And don't even get me started on Reese's eggs. Those are the devil for sure. Onto will never believe this but I tried 5 new recipes this past week. FIVE! They were all for our South American Wine Night with our wine club. Chimichurri Chicken: I had never before had chimichurri. I didn't even have a clue what went into it.'s parsley. Actually, there were a lot of recipes for chimichurri that I considered before settling on the one I made The only change I made to the recipe was halving the amount of chili pepper flakes. 2 tsps would have been way too much. I made the marinade and let the chicken sit in it for a few hours. Then, we baked it for 45 minutes at 375. It had a really good flavor and I love a freshly made marinade. This one's a keeper. I'd like to try it on the grill this summer. Chilean Rice: My choosing of this recipe was dual-purposed. It's name was South American, and I needed a side dish that I wanted to be rice. I don't know that this is super Chilean in flavor but it was tasty. Even the website where I found it wasn't sure what made it Chilean. My only issue is for some reason, the rice was a tad al dente. I cooked it like I always cook rice. It did sit and re-heat when it was time for the main course but I don't think that was the problem. A kitchen mystery....... Nutella Brownies: If you have never had Nutella, you are missing out, fo sho! It's a hazelnut spread that tastes super decadent but costs about as much as peanut butter. The thing that drew me to this recipe was its need of only 3 ingredients (I skipped the chopped hazelnuts because they were $7) AND it made exactly 12 mini bites. I have been searching high and low for a mini brownie or muffin that only yields 12. These recipes are hard to come by and thankfully, this one is a keeper! The brownies were delicious. I dusted them with powdered sugar to be exciting. Another use for my mini muffin pan! Cake Batter Rice Krispies: Would you believe I've never made rice krispies before? True. And I love them so much. They are a sneaky dessert though. You think they're not terrible for you, and they're not, unless you eat half the pan. Instead of just regular krispies, I found this recipe for cake batter ones. Yes, please! The only difference is mixing in a 1/4 cup of dry cake mix. These were good but I couldn't really taste the cake batter part. Maybe next time I'll try adding more. Half the pan also got drizzled chocolate on top because I'm fancy. Tuscan Flatbread: Our local gourmet grocery store makes a terrific flatbread that we buy very frequently. I thought I've save myself $3.50 and try my own hand at kneading. This recipe had a lot of steps and it made a large flatbread. Unfortunately, this didn't have much taste at all. I was super bummed. I didn't end up serving this to our friends because it honestly tasted like nothing. Maybe I'll make a sandwich out of it or a flatbread pizza or something. For now, it's in the freezer. Even though the recipe is from Bon Appetit, you can skip it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

And I will walk 500 miles.....

OK, just kidding. I'm not going to run 500 miles but this past weekend, I did RUN FIVE MILES. FIVE FIVE FIVE FIVE MILES!!! F I V E MILES! All at one time. This is the most I've ever done. EVER! I ran it in 50:28. This is something I never in my life dreamed I would be able to do. When I first started running, I could only go for 45 seconds at a time before I had to walk. Over time, my walking intervals got shorter and my running ones longer until I was able to run an entire mile. Big accomplishment. It was sometime later that I was able to run a full 3 miles, which was huge for me. In school, I think my fastest mile was somewhere in the 14 minute range. How pathetic is that?! I loathed gym class, especially on running days. Now, running isn't something I despise, it's something that I tolerate and sometimes even look forward to because I know how healthy it's making me. Running is a total mental game too. I've only recently learned this. I didn't plan that 5 mile distance until just before I got on the treadmill and said to myself, "I'm going to do 5 miles today. If my pace is a little slower, that's okay." But, guess what? I didn't really have to compromise my pace at all. Does this mean I'm a runner? If so, I never thought that was something I could classify myself as. I can't wait to sign up for a few races this summer with John. Even though he's faster than I am, I still enjoy this as an activity we can tackle together and congratulate the other one on every victory, small or HUGE! P.S. I think I need new shoes. Another running bonus......shoe shopping!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tiles Teetering on the Brink

It's quite possible we bit off a bit more than we could chew on our first real house project. We are not in love with the oak cabinets or countertops, or linoleum floor for that matter, in our kitchen. Because we don't have the funds to do a complete kitchen tear out at this time, we thought maybe a tile backsplash would help bring things together a bit. Here is the kitchen prior to tiling. In case you're wondering, the paint color is Sherwin Williams' Reynard.

I watch a alot of HGTV and also looked up many videos on tiling online so I considered myself somewhat of an expert. We selected a neutral 1" tile tumbled travertine from Lowe's and went to town. Although it was only about 15 square feet of tiling, it still took us approx. 4 hours to put the tile up with mastic. Mastic is sticky people, word of warning. Also, cutting tiles with nippers is difficult. Especially if they are small. Also, a cute word like nipper doesn't make the job any easier. But we forged on. After the tile was on the wall we treated ourselves to a birthday dinner for me at the Melting Pot. A deliciously caloric reward for a hard day of labor.

Here is what it looked like pre-grout but not quite finished with the mastic/sticking stage. Pretty good, right?

After the first stage was out of the way, we were high on home improvement. Yes, parts of the day were difficult but we got it on the wall and it hadn't fallen to the ground by the time we woke up the next morning. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Then........things went a little south. A lot south. WAAAAAAy South. I read multiple differing opinions on when to wipe off the grout. Something said 15-30 minutes, something else said 4 hours. The box of grout was no help as there were no written instructions, only hand drawn pictures. So, we grouted all the tile, which took 90 minutes. By this point, little did we know we were already totally screwed.

After grouting we said, "OK, let's go for a run, and then shower and eat, and then we'll wipe off the grout." WARNING TO THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER TILED: Do not plan a couple hours worth of activities at this stage of tiling. You will be SO sorry.

We started to wipe off the grout only, it wasn't coming off. It had completely hardened on. The more we scrubbed, the more discouraged we got. This was a disaster. There were heated words (from John), and 20 minutes of heavy sobbing on the kitchen floor (also John --- just kidding, that was all me). There was stomping around (that really was John). There were idle threats of hiring out every single house project in the future and never again attempting things on our own (also John). And finally I was cried out and we went to bed, defeated. I didn't take a picture of this stage because I was too distraught. Just picture tiles with grout so thick you can barely see the lines.

The next day, John headed back to Lowe's for advice. Grout haze remover and heavy brushes in hand, we got down to business. It became quickly apparent that my old toothbrush was the most useful tool possible.....until we discovered sand paper. Thank God we bought tumbled travertine and not glazed tile because it enabled us to sand for 2 straight hours. We sanded off every last bit of grout. I have never sweat so much from physical labor in my life! The sanding counted as our workout that night. Boy, did it ever. But, by the end of those 2 hours we had gone from, "We're going to have to hire someone to rip this down and re-drywall" to "I think we can work with this." What a difference a day makes!

We worked each night that week touching up the sanding and trying to make it look decent. And I think we did a darn good job.

And here is part of it all finished! We're still looking for some nicer edge pieces but for now, it's fine by me! Really, it was all worth it. I didn't total the receipts but I'm guessing these 15 SF cost us about $250.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Money Makes the World Go Round

I feel like all I've done lately is spend money and I have nothing to show for it. I guess that's not totally true. A big chunk of those funds going out went to a recent home improvement project that I'll tell you about in a couple days. I knew how much it would cost and it wasn't terribly expensive, it's just not something super exciting to spend money on, although it does improve the appearance of the kitchen. I went to the mall the other day and only spent $2.14. Everything else was free with coupons! So, what am I complaining about? I have no idea. We're really not overspending on anything, except maybe going out to eat. There's been a lot of that lately. Not good for the wallet or the waistline. Maybe these gas prices are finally catching up with me. Between the two of us, it probably costs $350/month just to keep our cars running. That's no small potatoes and it's not even summer vacation season yet. In an effort to do a little house cleaning and bring in a little change, I'm taking part in our community-wide garage sale. It's in two weeks and I can't wait! I don't have much to sell so I should not get my hopes up about my profits. But, I'm really excited about getting rid of some stuff, making some money, and trying to meet some neighbors in the process. We haven't met anyone yet even though we've been here 6 months. The other day, we tried to meet the woman in the house to the right of us but her dogs scared Sadie and so we had to walk away. They literally scared the crap out of her. She pooped on the sidewalk. Oh Sadie. Thanks for ensuring that we will never have any neighbor friends. Anyway, I promise to report back about the sale. I hope there's nice weather and a lot of traffic. And I also promise to stop complaining and being such a downer. Toodles!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #15

Fifteen! That means we're 15 weeks into 2011. Where does the time go? Into the kitchen, I guess. Tortilla and Black Bean Pie: This is a recipe from Martha that can be found on her website but I was cooking my books as I found it in her Everyday Food. We were having a Meatless Monday. This isn't something I make a point to observe but if it happens on its own, I go with it. John and I both really liked this one! It wasn't too labor intensive and it finished in the oven, which I love! It was fiberrrrific too! Give this one a shot!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

House Mishap

I don't know how it happened but outside of buying a new couch and loveseat (and having an extra couch in the living room that I cannot wait to be rid of) John and I haven't really done any work on the house since we moved in. Well, I know how it happened. Life and the holidays got in the way. Considering it's now April, I probably shouldn't use the holidays as an excuse anymore. Owning a house is a lot of work, yo. Everyone tells you that but no one ever really explains how much work it is.

So, we are embarking on a new House-Sprucing schedule. I told John we need to try to tackle at least one project a month. That way, we can feel like we are moving forward with making this home our own and we can spread out the expenses so we are not breaking the bank. Plus, it puts weeks between Home Depot and Lowe's runs (which I loathe).

Here is a list of things I'd like to accomplish:

-paver patio in the backyard

-tile backsplash in the kitchen

-new dining and kitchen light fixtures

-ceiling fans/lights in the guest rooms (we'll hire this out -- I don't mess with cutting holes in ceilings)

-painting the upstairs hallway and 2 story foyer

-painting the 2nd guest room and transforming it into my sewing room

-wainscoting in the 1/2 bath

-switching all doorknobs to lever knobs

-tiling the floor in the guest bath

-new sink in the guest bath

-new floor and double sink in master bath

-painting shutters and front door

-various landscaping projects

See what I mean? Lots of work that we thought was move in ready. This list is not really in order although I wanted the patio done first. I love eating outside and as the weather warms up, I was really looking forward to doing this. Unfortunately, the grading of our yard had other plans for us.

We had a landscaper check things out. He did not have good news for us. Not only would it cost a boatload for him to do the patio (we were probably going to DIY anyway) but he didn't recommend doing anything until our water issue back there is resolved. Oh, you didn't know we had a water issue? Yes, well then, let me present to you Exhibit A.

This is the mulched area around the one and only tree in our backyard. Sad, right? There is currently a possible suit pending between our HOA and the contractor who thought it would be a great idea to run all the sump pumps into our backyards instead of out into the street. So, until this is resolved, no patio Chez G. I guess we'll just put our plastic chairs on the grass. :(

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


It takes a special breed of reader to get into Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series. I started reading these years ago when they first came out. At the time, I am not ashamed to admit I was WAY into chick lit. Chick lit is not for everyone. It's not for eye-rollers and hoity-toity types and people who are into detailed plots, that's for sure. You have to know that the story is most certainly going to wrap up nicely in the end and be totally okay with that. All that being said, I feel it's necessary to re-visit my chick lit reading roots from time to time. I haven't been all that taken with anything I've been reading lately so I was hoping the 6th installment of this series would pull me out of my rut.

In Mini Shopaholic, Becky Bloomwood's two-year old daughter Minnie is somewhat of a terror. Becky, being Becky, often gives into her tantrums and reasons with her spending ways despite England -- and the rest of the world -- being in the midst of a financial crisis. Becky and her husband Luke are on the brink of buying a new home and moving out of her parent's house to start their lives on their own as a little family. All of that is temporarily placed on hold when the bank crashes and Luke's marketing firm becomes exceedingly busy in the putting out fires department. Also, Becky somehow manages to spark up a relationship with Luke's mother, whom he hasn't spoken to in years.

As Becky is not supposed to be shopping, this is probably not a great time for her to plan a large surprise birthday party for Luke but she does it anyway. As usual, she gets herself into many pickles along the way and her friends are there to bail her out all the while trying to hide the surprise party from Luke and trying to whip Minnie into shape.

Typical Shopaholic but a relatively entertaining read all the same. It's been a number of years since I read the last one so I kind of forgot the cast of characters and Becky's ways. It all came back to me though. If you've never read any of the others, don't start here. Best to go back to the very beginning with Confessions of a Shopaholic. This one gave me a few chuckles but it was just so so.

Rating: * *

This is sad. I've only read 9 books so far this year. I will certainly not be making my way to 50 any time soon and I REALLY need to find one to re-ignite my reading spark.

Monday, April 11, 2011

More Weighty Issues

Guys, I have hit a weight plateau for a number of months now. I'm so tired of it! I work out 6 days a week so you'd think I'd see some results. I've been upping my mileage on the treadmill and can now run 4 miles in just under 40 minutes. That's pretty huge for me. All this working out and decent eating (save for the occasional treat) should give me some downward movement on the scale, right? Wrong, I guess. Yes, I had a gluttonous weekend in Lexington a couple weeks ago but I'm totally back on track. Here's something I figured out. I think I look okay. My clothes fit fine and are getting looser. People keep telling me I look good. So, the scale shouldn't matter. I try to tell myself this all the time. It's a hard concept to grasp. I've been doing more strength too so I'm probably gaining muscle. And in that case, the scale really shouldn't matter. I used to be a once a week weigher. Then, I started sneaking in cheat weighing throughout the week and I would get discouraged when there was no progress. And then, because I apparently suck at keeping secrets, I would inevitably confess to John that I weighed myself. A vicious cycle. A week or so ago, I had him hide the scale. I made him do it while I was out of the house even so I wouldn't have any clue where it was. This past Monday, I also made the decision to go back to food journaling with my Lose It! app on my iphone. I had a lot of success with this last summer/fall and decided if I was serious about reaching my goal then I had best buckle down. It tells me I only get 1,423 calories a day to reach my goal. Maybe you didn't know but that's not that many. Yes, I can exercise so I can eat more but I also need to bank calories for my weekend wine, which I refuse to give up. A true diet luxury. OK, so I'm tracking my food and working out more and more and what do I do last night? Look for the scale to weigh myself. SHAMEFUL! Why am I so focused on that pesky number? As luck would have it, it was in the very first place I looked. Note to self: John is terrible at hiding things. But, I was pleased with the weight so I didn't have to be sad about it. And then I confessed later on because not only did I cheat weigh, but I also actually sought out the very item I asked him to hide. Double shame! If I could stop getting in my own way, maybe I would actually get where I'm going.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #14

BBQ Pasta Salad: When I found this recipe by the Neely's on the Food Network site I could not have been more jazzed. I must make this immediately, I said out loud. In fact, I scheduled myself to make pulled pork for the sole purpose of having enough leftover to use in this recipe. Yeah, it's pulled pork with fusilli and a BBQ-like sauce. So then, I was looking over the recipe later in the week after all the ingredients had been purchased and I don't know how I didn't realize, because it says so in the title, that this is a pasta salad. Meaning, serve cold. Uh-oh. This is supposed to be our main course for two nights. I consulted my partner in crime and we decided if it was too strange to eat cold pasta salad for dinner two nights in a row, then we'd come up with something else for the second night. Well guess what, it was delicious! The first night it was a bit strange having a cold pasta salad that is supposed to be served as a side dish for dinner but by day two, I was really looking forward to it. In fact, there was enough leftover after 2 nights that we even had it for lunch a third day. Holler! I think this would be great to take to a picnic in the summer as a nice alternative to macaroni or regular pasta salad. In fact, because the pork butt was so large, we were able to freeze easily a whole pound of pulled pork. Looks like I'll be making this one again when it warms up.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7th - A glorious day

Happy Birthday to me,

Happy Birthday to me,

Happy Birthday dear Ashley,

Happy Birthday to ME!

Oh, you mean you didn't know it was my birthday? Well, now you do! I'm 28 today. This will be a challenge because for the past year, I kept forgetting I was 27. I guess your mind really is the first thing to go. I'm celebrating this weekend with a dinner at the Melting Pot. Mmmmm fondue. But tonight? CAKE! I gave John a lot of grief about this cake. I'm a bit of a control freak. I just discovered this about myself. How sad that it took 28 years to come to this realization. When I told John I like to control things he gave me a priceless look that said simply, "Duh." But, I'll have you know that he was going to wait until the weekend to give me cake even though my birthday is today, a Thursday. That would have been the saddest birthday ever. So you see, my controlling nature is a direct result of John and his grand plans. Anyway, I'll have a slice, or two, for you. Promise. And I did let him make the dinner reservations. I bit my tongue several times so as not to remind him. It was tough.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Trip Report: Lexington, KY

A couple weekends ago, John and I drove 2 1/2 hours south to Lexington, KY. We were in need of a little spring getaway and while the weather was far from spring-like, we were happy to be out of Ohio. It was also a test for Miss Sadie who was boarded for the first time in 3 years. We were quite nervous about this but it was only one night. You gotta start somewhere, right?

I did a lot of pre-planning for our little road trip, consulting websites and friends, reading review after review of hotel, restaurant, etc. Truth be told, I think I enjoy trip planning almost as much as going on the actual vacation. Almost. We set off on a Friday morning after leaving Sadie at Petsmart where she thought she was just going to spend the day at daycamp, so she was excited. She said, "smell ya later" when we left. No, not really, but that's what I imagined her saying. Saxby's coffee in hand and a box of animal crackers in the back seat for snacking and we were set!

Having never really explored Lexington or Kentucky we decided to focus on one aspect, drinking. J/K, we're no lushes, but we did go to a number of wineries and one bourbon distillery. First, we stopped at Elk Creek Vineyards. This is about an hour north of Lexington so it broke up the drive a bit. It's also not the most convenient place to get to, in fact, none of our stops were super convenient but this is worth the winding roads if you're a wine lover. The grounds were expansive and would probably be very pretty in warmer weather.

We went on a tour of their set up and did a pretty in depth tasting. There was an older couple with us on the tour as well and then they asked if we wanted to have lunch with them! What could we say?! John and I had just been saying to each other that we were hungry and should eat there. It's not as if the invitation could have been met with a response of, "No thanks, we don't eat with strangers." So we said, when in Rome -- or Owenton, as the case was, "Sure! We'll eat with you." It actually ended up being fine and not uncomfortable. In the end they saved us because we needed to head on down the road to make the tour at our next stop. Thanks Gary and Cathy!

I am not a bourbon fan. I reeeeeallly want to like it but it's just not my cup of tea, or jigger of bourbon, if you will. But, I found the tour at Woodford Reserve very interesting all the same.

Copper still........where the magic happens

For $5, we toured the smallest of the Kentucky bourbon distilleries and tasted the product at the end. Plus, free bourbon balls! Those, I loved! I couldn't get enough. When a sign says 'Complimentary' I belly up. I'm pretty sure John was embarrassed at my return trips to the candy tray. Oh well! John loves bourbon so he purchased a bottle. Each time he pours some I smell it and taste a little. Still not a convert, but I'd like to go back and tour some of the other distilleries in the area. Unfortuantely, this was a short trip.

It was late afternoon by this point but I cajoled John into making another wine stop. As it happens, Equus Run is sort of on the way from Woodford Reserve to Lexington. We got there about 20 minutes before they closed and did just about the fastest tasting I've ever done. This place was a bargain on the tastings! 6 pours for $2 and you got to keep the glass. John and I will typically taste different wines and then share so you get to try as many as possible. In this case, we tried 12. (Disregard previous lush comment) I did most of the drinking as John was our driver. Equus was a lot smaller than Elk Creek but again had very nice grounds that I'd like to see when things are blooming and grapes are growing. They offer tours but we were too late. We bought a couple bottles, including a chocolate strawberry one that John was surprisingly enamored with, and headed into town.

I made a reservation at the Hyatt in downtown Lexington on the recommendation of friends of ours. It is attached to the convention center and Rupp arena where UK plays. You're definitely paying for location with this hotel. It was very nice but it's also only 1 of 2 options for walkable lodging if you think you're going to be walking to dinner, bars, shops, etc. in this area. At $180 for the night, it was more than I'd typically spend but since it was just one night, we sprung for it! The convenience was very nice. The only bad part was when we got back to our room after dinner and drinks around midnight, we discovered the sink was clogged and had to switch rooms. I was hoping for a discount, no such luck. Probably because I didn't feel like pitching a fit. Oh well.

Anyway, after checking in we napped off the wine and bourbon and got ready for dinner. If you're going to plan a drinking trip, you had best schedule in naptime. When we went to Niagara Falls, we took a monster nap after the first day of tsting. No joke, it was 3 hours and amazing. I digress. Just across the street was a popular Lexington restaurant, de Sha's. Even though we were in the land of fried chicken and I had a major craving, I was trying to be good. I ordered the crab cakes, which were pan-fried. Oops. John had the prime rib. The food was good. Service was a tad slow but we were in no hurry. After dinner we headed next door to The Horse and Barrel, a pub that was recently voted one of the best whiskey bars in the world. Fancy! We found a table easily and settled in for the OSU / UK game. There weren't that many people out and about which I'm attributing to the cold temps and wind. Also, we were definitely the only OSU fans in the house. The service here was attentive and the drinks were good. I discovered a new to me hard cider called Crispin. It's made by Sam Adams and I'm now on an all out scavenger hunt to see who distributes it in my area. But, my favorite drink of the night was Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale which they brew about 10 minutes from where we were. It's not that great in the bottle but is VERY tasty on draught. I wish someone around here would put it on tap. Maybe I'll give the bottles another shot. You can tour the brewing facilities there too. Maybe next trip.......

We headed back to the hotel and turned in. The next morning we were all jazzed for a quick and delicious breakfast at Cosi. Yeah, they weren't open. Oops again! We had coffee cake at Starbucks instead. This broke a standard vacation rule of my father's that I've adopted, never eat anywhere you can eat at home. Too bad Starbucks is everywhere! I would have loved to walk around more and see the beautiful homes and more of the city but again, the weather was not cooperating. Must go when it's warmer. Instead, we headed out to a couple more wineries before hitting the road.

We set out to find Jean Farris Winery near downtown. It was a modest building on decent grounds. Very swanky inside. We weren't super hungry yet so we didn't have lunch or a snack and we just did a quick tasting here. They weren't overly friendly and in fact, were kind of snobby. This was sad. I wanted to spend more time here tasting but neither of us felt very comfortable and just kind of unwanted. Nobody was very helpful and they didn't really have a shop to peruse. At least if they did, I didn't see it. Maybe if we went back for dinner with a tasting we'd get a better reception. Oh well. You can't win 'em all.

Talon Winery & Vineyards is also out in the middle of nowhere but it didn't take nearly as long to get to as the ones from the previous day. We had a heck of a time figuring out where we were supposed to taste here due to some misinformation from other wine seekers. There was a wedding set up happening but also, a barrel tasting at 14 different wineries in the area. We weren't interested in the barrel tasting so, wouldn't you know, we actually needed to be in the place marked "Tasting Room." Duh. The girl pouring was very knowledgeable and friendly as were the folks at both Elk Creek and Equus. Lots of tasty wines in Kentucky. We ended up bringing home 6 bottles in total from our various stops. Our wine rack is full!

Before heading up I-75 to pick up Sadie we had lunch at Ramsey's, which is supposedly a Lexington institution. In fact, there are several locations and we just happened upon one thanks to the Yelp app on my iphone. It was here that I gave in to temptation and ordered the fried chicken. WORTH.every.last.CALORIE! It was so good. John said, "I can tell you like it because you keep making mmm noises." Yeah, it was that good. I barely gave up a single bite for John to try. They had some really good looking pies but we abstained so as not to go too far off the deep end.

After that we drove home. Well, John drove. I slept the entire time -- which I did feel badly about no matter what he says. It was a successful getaway, although I only took about 6 pictures the whole time. If you don't have time to take a full vacation, you might as well take what you can get. I'm already planning our next one......for when it finally starts to warm up.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Songs for Japan

Have you donated anything to the tsunami relief efforts in Japan? I hadn't, until now! On itunes, you can buy a 38 song album for $9.99 with all proceeds benefiting the Japanese Red Cross. The songs aren't brand new or anything, well, some of them are newer, but it's a good mix from a variety of different artists so not only is your money going to a good cause, but you get to rock out in the process. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Swirly Girl - Simplicity 2725

No joke, I started sewing this dress probably in the spring of 2010 or earlier. For some reason, I put it away. I think I must have gotten tripped up by the facing and fusible web. No more do these things befuddle a master sewer such as myself. I found the remnants of this unfinished object while I was organizing my sewing stash trying to convince John I needed to go to JoAnn's again. He wasn't buying it so I figured I finish this up instead.

It's from Simplicity's Project Runway line. You can also make a mini version but mini doesn't cut it in the office. I chose the more modest length. Of course you can purchase this online here, or just wait for a good JoAnn's sale. I try not to spend more than a buck or two on patterns because they are always going on sale. The fabric is a simple cotton with a black background and swirly white dots. Like an optical illusion -- except not really.

This pattern was super simple. Because it's from the Project Runway line, they offer up a lot of different embellishment options to make it your own. I stuck with the original pattern. Clean lines and a little elastic around the cap sleeves. Easy peasy!

Please excuse the following face/hair.

John was so not in the mood for re-takes. It was cold and he had a coat on. I don't know what he was complaining about. Look! Another item to wear over leggings. I think belting it really helps. Yes, it's a simple A-line dress but otherwise, it doesn't have very much shape to it. Also, I was much larger when I cut this the first time. I had to take in the side seams a good 2 inches. Go Ashley!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recipe Re-blog #13

I made it three months of keeping my resolution. YEA! What can I say? I'm awesome. Although, I'm over these cold temps. Because it's now April, the weather can warm up anytime. I'm ready to sip sangria outside! Two new recipes because, if you forgot, I'm awesome. Spicy Potatoes and Peas with Chicken: This is in the March 2011 issue of Everyday Food from Martha Stewart. Martha posts a lot of recipes online but not the newest ones. If you want it, e-mail me! I had pretty high hopes for this one. Let's just say it did not meet our expectations. For having the word 'spicy' in the title there just wasn't much flavor at all. I don't think I'll be making this again. Sorry, Martha. Pasta Salad Dressing: I do a great job at meal planning during the week. John and I eat the same thing for breakfast everyday, pack our lunch for work, and plan dinners a week in advance. The area I don't do so well on is weekend lunches. We inevitably end up eating out way more than we should and consuming way more calories than we should because of this. Determined not to fall into that trap last Sunday, I opened my pantry and freezer. This is often problematic because I'm not one of those people who just buy random ingredients at the store (See above sentences re: meal planning). However, I happened to have half a box of pasta and I always have frozen veggies on hand. Ta-da! Pasta Salad. What I didn't have was dressing. Enter Robert Irvine's recipe from the Food Network. This was so tasty! I liked that it called for dried herbs. So many recipes really sing with only fresh and I get annoyed at buying fresh herbs specifically for recipes. I can't wait until it's garden season. But, this dressing was light and herby. A perfect compliment to the pasta and veggeis. Best part? I had everything on hand so I could make it again whenever I want!