Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

This year, Sadie decided she wanted to be a penguin for Halloween. Then, when I bought her costume at Petsmart and brought it home after she begged and begged, she didn't want to wear it.  I put it on her and she just sat there giving me the stink eye. But, this is what you wanted, I said to her, you were very specific. She didn't care. Is this what it's like to have a fickle toddler? Sheesh.

I plied her with hot dog pieces (also a toddler trick?) and she complied with the briefest of photo shoots. I also tried to shoot a video so you could see her in all her glory but when I started rolling film, she just sat there. I mean, honestly. Have you ever heard of a more uncooperative dog?

She was quite interested in the trick-or-treaters. Our city held it as scheduled and the poor kids had coats and mittens on over their costumes

Somebody out there?

If you stay away, I get first crack at the leftover candy.

We probably only had about 20 kids, unfortunately. And the mixed bag of candy we bought had an inordinate amount of Whoppers. Curses!

OK, I sat still for you.

Happy Halloween!

Can I take this off now?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Passage


I'm not sure what prompted my reading of The Passage by Justin Cronin as it's not typical of what I choose. However, I'm glad I borrowed this one from the library, even if it is 700+ Pages.

Good Reads' Synopsis: "First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun."

What I Thought: Well, this was quite a story. And not a short one as it spans more than 100 years in the history of the US. I wasn't sure where it was headed at the beginning and just when I was really getting into things, the timeline jumped far forward. I caught on though and really started getting involved with the plot. I had to find out what happened and why. I'm not sure what is up with the post-apocalyptic theme in my reading lately (and in TV) but I like the departure. If you are not a sci-fi fan, that's okay as this isn't really sci-fi. While it was a longer read, I really liked it. And bonus, a second book has been released, which is good because I didn't want this one to end. You know I love a good series!

Rating: * * * *

Monday, October 29, 2012

Destination: Louisville

A couple weekend’s ago, John and I took a belated birthday trip to Louisville, Kentucky. Because we were celebrating John’s birthday, I planned a John-centric itinerary of bourbon distilleries. He is forever driving me to wineries and since I am no fan of bourbon, I was the driver. I think I did a pretty good job on this birthday gift, if I do say so myself.

We dropped off an unsuspecting Sadie at daycamp (where she’d also spend the night) and hit the road. A little over 2 hours later, we ended up at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Kentucky. We got a little turned around and toured “downtown” Frankfort. It may be the capital but it is small. Just in case you ever thought you needed to hang out there. 

The grounds at Buffalo Trace were very nice, even for our overcast day of touring. Stepping out of the car, an overwhelming smell of bourbon invaded my nose. I guess we're here.

Say hello to my buffalo friend

The tours here are hourly and free. Our guide was VERY 
enthusiastic about bourbon. A lot of reviews I read mentioned that 
all B.T. tour guides are really proud of their product which I 
Nothing worse than a tour guide who doesn't want to be there. We 
had a large group and in a little over an hour we walked the 
grounds, watched a short video on the history of Buffalo Trace 
(who make lots of other bourbons that you'd recognize by name 
too) and had a tasting.

Barrel House - Bourbon ages here for years and years and years

Old school copper still
We were lucky the the single barrel reserve bottles of Blanton's (one of John's faves) and Rock Hill were being bottled on this very day. We would get to see bottling in action! It was pretty cool. Then, we all got the horse stoppers that can be found on Blanton's bottles. There are 8 in all and when you line them up, it's a horse race. You can by all 8 in a barrel stave here (friends of ours have one and it's super neat) but we're going to collect them one by one. Challenge! We have 2 N's so far.

Waiting to be bottled

Bottles waiting to go down the line. Those tubes hook up to the barrels.

Everyone gets his horsey!

Then we proceeded to the tasting room where everyone got to try 2 different bourbons. They also distill their own vodka. I gave my first tasting to John. The second, however, was a bourbon cream. It was DELICIOUS! It's something new they're making and it's not distributed anywhere but in the gift shop there. It was similar to Bailey's and with a little root beer. Oh my stars. We came home with a bottle of that for sure.

And then our time at Buffalo Trace was done and we were on the road to Shepherdsville, KY about 30 minutes south. A quick stop a Wendy's for lunch and we arrived at Four Roses Distillery. The grounds here were a lot smaller but significant in their Spanish Mission style architect which was pretty. Strong bourbon and corn smell here too!

Tours here are also hourly and free and included three tastings. All 

of mine went to John. He was quite pleased. While some of the 

information here was a repeat of what we had just heard, their 

history was, of course, different. We also got to see the mash 

percolating, which we didn't see at Buffalo Trace. Here, the aroma 

was very strong, obviously. A small percent evaporates while it's 

heated and they call that the Angel's Share. Lucky angels!

John bought a bottle of their Single Barrel variety which he 

deemed the best of the three. Then we headed on over to 

Louisville. I Pricelined our hotel for the night and got a great 

deal. The key to Priceline is knowing where your free rebid 

zones are. For instance, if you're going for a 4 star hotel, 

there are inevitably areas that have no 4 star hotels available 

but you can add them as a zone without upping your bid 

too much. I ended up getting our room at about 60% off. 

The Brown Hotel is somewhat of an institution and it's 

also the home of the original Hot Brown sandwich. This is an 

open-faced turkey (?) sandwich covered in gravy. We didn't 

try it. Check out this lobby though!

We had dinner at Morton's which was delicious. Then we stopped at a couple places at 4th Street Live on the way back to our hotel. This is an outdoor block closed to traffic that is chock full of restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, etc. John continued his bourbon-y weekend here with some tastings at the Maker's Mark Lounge.

Then we headed back to the hotel but stopped for some local beer at the Bluegrass Brewing Co. There weren't many people here but the service was fast and friendly.

By then we were exhausted. It had been a long day and we crashed. Walked to Starbucks in the morning for coffee and oatmeal and then got ready to head home. But, not before having lunch at Chuy's, my FAVORITE Mexican restaurant that is finally making its way north. We first experienced it in Austin and are excited that they are expanding.

Then, we headed home a scant 36 hours after we left. It was a whirlwind getaway but a lot of fun. Great way to spend a birthday, if you ask me!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Recipe Reblog: Comfort Foods

Where did Indian Summer go in Ohio? I woke up this weekend to cold, dreary blah days. You know what cures those kind of days? Comfort foods! I have two winners for you this week. Hope you're hungry!

Smoky Turkey Shepherd's Pie: This one comes from Rachael Ray so it's supposedly a 30 minute meal. I'm here to tell you, with all the chopping and prep work it took my sous chef and me longer than said 30 minutes. Adjust your time goals accordingly. It was worth it. Tasty dish! This meal is veggie-rific! Carrots, celery, red pepper, peas. Using ground turkey keeps it on the light side too. I substituted greek yogurt for the sour cream. I did not have smoked paprika. Rachael says you can use regular paprika and cumin for the same results. One word of warning, this meal looks pretty disgusting. Don't let that throw you off. It was also a bit runnier than I would have liked. It calls for 2 cups of broth but you can probably use 1 1/2 to help tighten it up. A perfect Sunday dinner.

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Noodles: The advent of fall means the return of crockpot meals. This is a Better Homes and Gardens recipe but I couldn't find it on their site. I have it in a cookbook. Oh, we really enjoyed this one. John tipped the remaining sauce into his mouth and when I caught him doing it he said, "we must never speak of this." Sorry. Your wife is a blogger. All material is fair game. This also has lots of veggie power to it. It says it serves 6 with 2 lbs of chicken. I used 1 lb of chicken breasts but kept the sauce amount the same and it was great. It was very saucy but I like saucy noodles. You could also serve this over biscuits but the egg noodles (they also sell whole wheat in the same shape) were easier and healthier. We cooked it overnight because doing it for 10 hours while we were at work would have been too long. Next time though, I'll throw in the chicken frozen and then it will take the full 10. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Half Marathon Playlist

I loaded 3 hours of music for my Half Marathon on my ipod, just in case. I tried to vary the tempos and give myself a couple slower songs as a break. Looking for some new songs to add to your play list specifically for pumping you up and keeping the beat driving? Here's what kept me going until the finish line.

  1. When Love Takes Over - David Guetta
  2. Power - Kanye West
  3. Let's Go - Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo
  4.  Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men
  5.  Best of You - Foo Fighters
  6. Starships - Nicki Minaj
  7. Kerosene - Miranda Lambert
  8. Chasing the Sun - The Wanted
  9. Run the World - Beyonce
  10. Payphone - Adam Levine feat. Wiz Khalifa
  11. Gold on the Ceiling - The Black Keys
  12. Amsterdam - Guster
  13. It's OK - Cee-Lo Green
  14. Maniac - Michael Sembello (From Flashdance)
  15. Ni**as in Pari - Kanye West & Jay-Z
  16. Fly - Nicki Minaj & Rihanna
  17. Burn It Down - Linkin Park
  18. Handlebars - Flobots
  19. I'm Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphys
  20. We Found Love - Glee version
  21. Numb / Encore - Jay-Z & Linkin Park
  22. Hard - Rihanna
  23. Runaway Baby - Bruno Mars
  24. Cheers (Drink to That) - Rihanna
  25. Till I Collapse - Eminem & Nate Dogg
  26. Red Oyster Cult - Guster
  27. Little Black Submarines - The Black Keys
  28. Wheels - Cake
  29. Still Standing - Glee version
  30. Any Way You Want It - Glee version
  31. Let Yourself Go - Green Day
  32. Country Girl - Luke Bryan
  33. The Distance - Cake
  34. All I Do Is Win - DJ Khaled
  35. Girl on Fire - Alicia Keys
  36. Remember the Name - Fort Minor
  37. Here It Goes Again - OK Go
  38. The Show Goes On - Lupe Fiasco

And then I crossed the finish line! There were 10 more songs or so but I didn't hear them.

What have you been working out to lately? I'm always looking for new music. Although now that the weather will start turning, most of my runs will be treadmill which means, Hello Netflix!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

T-Shirt Take-In

John and I may live closer to Bengals country but hailing from northern Ohio we are Browns fans through and through. OK, to be fair, I couldn’t care less about football so I am a Browns fan by default. But, I try to support John’s interests by watching games with him and making football snacks. Anything for snacks right? The other day, John was getting rid of a Browns t-shirt that was much too short on his long-torsoed body. 

Being the re-fashioner I am and wanting to support the team but spend little to no money on gear, I said, “I’ll take that, thankyouverymuch!”

Taking in a too large top is usually a simple, quick fix. I turned the shirt inside out and used a t-shirt of my own as a guideline. This is easier than pinning your hems while the shirt is on your body, trust me. See the little pin-heads all around the striped shirt? They are marking the way for my stitches.
I sewed up the sides and took in the sleeves as well. Take care around the armpits and make sure your original shirt seams are matched up correctly otherwise you’ll have wonky pits. Luckily, the shirt is dark and no one should be looking there because I did a sloppy job.
Two side seams and voila! 
Really need to use my camera instead of my phone, eh?
Free and new-to-me in a more form-fitting feminine cut. Now I will look the part of a football wife, even if I am reading my book or knitting while the game is on…………

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TV Trouble

Network television is out to get me. They are causing much distress in my life on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I am sure the execs are in cahoots and that's why they've scheduled three shows on three different channels that I would like to watch. This is a problem because I can only DVR 2 channels at a time. I know that I could switch and get The Hopper for up DVR-ing up to 4 channels simultanesouly (THE HOP-PUH) but I don't want to. Dealing with cable companies ranks right up there with hanging out in home improvement stores and taking my car in for service. Kill.Me.Now.

9:00 PM on Tuesdays is the witching hour. New Girl on Fox, Happy Endings on ABC, Go On on NBC. On Thursdays, it's Grey's Anatomy, Parks and Rec and Glee. I should be contacted to be a Nielsen watcher since I watch so much awesome television programming. Don't you have On Demand? You ask. Yes, yes I do. The problem is sometimes the shows aren't available for viewing when I want them to be and you typically have to suffer through commercials. I will do anything to avoid watching live TV if it's a show I care about. So you see, while On Demand is my only option -- other than watching TV in the basement (barf), it's far from a good option. Sigh..........

.........First World Problems.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Race Report: Dayton River Corridor Classic Half Marathon

Back in July, a friend and I got a hare-brained idea to run a half marathon together. I had considered this before but always chickened out. To have a partner in crime was the push I needed. We registered and the training began. Wanting to train properly and remain uninjured, I followed Hal Higdon’s much-lauded half marathon training program. These programs are available for free online and I highly recommend them if you are a first-timer looking for guidance. He has two versions and I ended up combining both for my own custom plan. Novice 1 has you top out at 10 miles claiming adrenaline on race day will carry you those last 3.1 miles. Not wanting to risk it, I used the mileage from the Novice 2 plan, which takes your longest run up to 12 miles, and threw in strength and cross training for good measure. There were good runs and bad runs. Runs that gave me confidence and those that cast doubt. In the end,  I felt prepared and knew that at the very least I would finish. I tried not to go in with any designs on time accomplishments. Cross the finish line. That’s it. The rest is gravy.
I trained for 12 weeks and the day had finally arrived. The 36th Ohio River Corridor Classic Half Marathon was here. Although my friend was unable to run with me due to unforeseen job/training time constraints, John stepped up to the challenge. He had been training with me all along but going back and forth on actually racing. I told him to do what he wanted and that I was running the race for me, no matter what. He could run too, or he could come cheer me on. About a week prior, he registered. He had done all the runs, might as well toe the line. I knew all along he would end up running it too. You don’t devote that much time to something just to spectate.
The day before the race we went to pick up our shirts and bib numbers. Being a small, local race, there was no expo that you might typically find at a much larger, more well-attended race. That’s okay. At the running store, I also bought some Sport Beans. These would turn out to be a mistake but I didn’t realize it and broke one of the cardinal rules of racing: Never try anything new on race day. No new clothes, shoes, breakfast or fuel. Oops……
Two things I was looking forward to most about this race: finishing it and carb-loading. We went out for pasta the night before the race. I laid out all my gear so I didn’t have to scramble in the morning and loaded my race playlist on both my ipod and my old phone.

Then we turned in relatively early (for a Saturday night) but that was pointless. I was too keyed up and didn’t sleep very well anyway. My furry alarm clock woke me up before my actual alarm clock but I was up every hour the entire night. Nervous? Who me? YES! Very. I got up and let Sadie out, made coffee, got dressed and tried to choke down breakfast. I ate perhaps 60% of my peanut buttered bagel and knew that was all I could manage. This would also be a mistake since as we were lining up I turned to John and said, “I’m hungry.” Oh well.
The race started at the basketball arena on the University of Dayton’s campus. Two reasons this was awesome: AMPLE parking and actual bathrooms. No porta-potties and no lines. 
Running Skirt - The North Face, Wicking Top - Target, Shoes - Brooks Adrenaline

John and I took down some pre-race Gatorade and milled around until it was time to go. Nerves had not gone away by now either. I was jittery until the gun shot start. Right at 9:00 AM, all 630 of us took our first steps and were off!
As I’m imagining any race might be, the course was pretty congested in the beginning. There were no time corrals or even pace signs and everyone was kind of in a clump with only the fastest runners in front. I stuck with John for probably a quarter mile but only because he couldn’t weave through enough people to shoot ahead. He made his move and I didn’t see him again until the turn around later on in the course.
I had no idea how fast I was going. I passed some people, which felt good, but I also didn’t have a watch or GPS. There was no Mile 1 sign so by the time we hit Mile 2 I felt like we had been going awhile. So much so that I was confused by seeing that sign and thought, “I’ve gone 2 miles? Or this is the start of the second mile?” An old man running by me was also confused. He thought they mixed up the signs and said, “I hope I’m not running that slow.” “Me too!” I said. I lied when I said I had no time goals. I wanted to finish under 2:30. Later we would learn there was a mistake in the course route which accounted for this confusion.
The course dropped down to a bike path by the river and the field thinned out. There were times when the next closest person in front or behind me was at least 20 feet away. I guess that’s probably normal? Aid stations were plentiful and stocked with water and most had Gatorade. At mile 6 I ate 3 Sport Beans. They were watermelon flavored and were delicious. They also had caffeine. However, It was also about this time that my stomach didn’t feel great. I figured I’d taken too much liquid on and vowed to drink less at the stops. I also decided not to eat anymore beans. Lesson learned, Sport Beans with caffeine are not Ashley’s friend. Unfortunately, I probably could have used more calories. Oh well.
At this point we were running through a park and coming up to the turn around in the course. I kept my eye out for John and nearly stepped in a giant hole that likely would have ended the race for me. I’m clumsy enough on my own. Eyes forward! I saw John about mile 7 or so and that gave me a burst of energy for sure! He looked strong and I even sprinted to high five him. I had a big smile on my face after that for awhile. It should be noted that there is zero crowd support on this race. In a large race that takes place in a big metropolis, I’m sure there are more spectators. Here, there were a handful of people waiting for their runner and otherwise just standing there. A few volunteers were clapping and cheering but if I was hoping to get a burst of energy from the “crowd”, I was sorely mistaken. So, next time a runner says “hey – do you want to come cheer me on?” Please do it! Yes, you might be bored at times but it will help their morale and confidence tremendously.
OK – turned around and heading back to the finish at the point. The temps were in the low 60’s, overcast sky, no humidity. It was great. Until the winds kicked up…… It was around mile 8-9 that I walked for the first time. I had walked through each water stop but ran immediately after drinking. At this point, the course ran through a bit of construction and it had large rocks and rough terrain. Not wanting to fall, I walked through this section. (See above: clumsy.) It was also at this point, and for the remainder of the race, that we were running directly into 20-30 mph winds. Not an exaggeration. Any forward progress attempts were quickly smacked down by mother nature. It was pretty brutal and everyone around me was having trouble. The last 4 miles of the race for me were a walk/run effort. I did my best to keep running but perseverance is not always my strong suit. I knew I would finish but it would end up being a bit slower. The first half of the course for me was nicely paced. The last half was a teeth-gritting struggle.
Mile 11 – I got a rock in my shoe. How did this happen? I considered stopped to get rid of it but kept going instead. In fact, I forgot all about that rock until I got home. It’s possibly still in my shoe.

John finished well before I did (1:59!!) and was able to grab his phone to capture me heading towards the finish. I'm only smiling because I'm almost done!
And then I was at the finish line and crossed in 2:17!!!!!!!! I remembered to smile when I crossed because I knew they'd be taking my picture. The guy even thanked me for smiling. Well, wouldn't you know they had been taking pictures all along the last stretch when I was NOT smiling and didn't take a single one of my nice smile at the end. Pffft
But I collected my medal and found John, ecstatic. We did it! He had already eaten a piece of pizza at this point but I wasn't hungry at all. I wanted Gatorade and there was none. I settled for water and a banana. John then had pancakes and sausage too. What a machine! 
We hobbled to the car after a bit and drove 20 sweaty minutes home to discover those winds had knocked over our grill on the patio and blew chairs through our fence, breaking several slats. I told you they were no joke. Then it was time for some serious RICE  (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and refueling. We treated ourselves to Chinese takeout and laid around the rest of the day. Sore and spent. I foam rolled, which helped but I should have taken an ice bath too. Next time.......
Oh, did I say next time? Yep, most definitely.

I mean, I've still never hit that elusive runner's high. Gotta keep trying, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kiss the Girls


Kiss the Girls is by James Patterson. This is an 'old' book. This is what happens when none of the books I am waiting for at the library are ready for borrowing. Ashley wanders the stacks. Ashley borrows books from the mid-90's. A book is a book, right? Except when a book is also a movie. Somehow, I had never seen the movie version of Kiss the Girls with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd. I was only 14 when it came out so I was possibly more interested in seeing whatever heartthrob teen movie I was into at that time. Most likely anything with Leonardo DiCaprio.......

Good Reads' Synopsis: "The second book in the #1 bestselling Alex Cross series! In Los Angeles, a reporter investigating a series of murders is killed. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a beautiful medical intern suddenly disappears. In Washington D.C. Alex Cross is back to solve the most baffling and terrifying murder case ever. Two clever pattern killers are collaborating, cooperating, competing--and they are working coast to coast."

What I Thought: I like a suspenseful mystery and this fit the bill! Quick, short chapters the sped right along. Patterson's writing is just so so for me. Not particularly deep-thinking but that's not the point here, is it? I'd like to read some of the other Alex Cross series because I enjoyed the character. I think this is worth reading even if you've seen the movie to check the differences (and there was a whole plot line removed).

Rating: * * *

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I did it!

I am not fuzzy in real life.

Finished the half marathon!

Full post coming another day................

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Recipe Reblog: Apple Butter

A quintessential autumn recipe for you this fine, Sunday morning.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter: I have made apple butter in the crock pot before but this was a new-to-me recipe. John LOVES apple butter. He eats it with a spoon, from the jar, no food vessel as transportation. As you can imagine, he was pretty stoked when I said I would be cooking this up. I cut the recipe in half and it fit perfectly in my 4 quart cooker. Another reason I cut the recipe in half is because I also can't bring myself to put 2 full cups of sugar in any recipe I make. By cutting it in half, you only use 1 cup of sugar. Yes, I realize the ratio is the same but it makes me feel better. the 8+ hours this simmered in my kitchen, the entire house smelled amazing. I had all the ingredients on hand except the apples but since it's apple pickin' season, that was not a problem. One thing I screwed up -- the vanilla gets stirred in at the end but I didn't read thoroughly and put it in at the beginning. I don't think it made a lick of difference. Cook this up for you and your family. They will thank you!

And yes, today is RACE DAY! Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Care for a glass of cider?

Many weeks ago, the tasting at our local spot was all ciders and I forgot to document it. I'm a terrible blogger. But, I've brought you the best one from the night and another one that doesn't hold a candle to it. I try these things for you, even if I don't like then. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Angry Orchard has several varieties of hard cider (Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry) and they're all delicious. But this. Oh this, Apple Ginger. It's the best.

From the site: "Featuring a unique blend of ginger and apple flavors, this smooth and refreshing cider offers a sweet yet slightly tart taste, and goes down easy."

Please try this!!! And bonus, cider is gluten-free, if you're one of those types. I think it retails for about $8.99/5 pack. Check out their site for some delicious sounding Angry Orchard cocktails. I NEED to try some of them. And you should too!

Oh, Woodchuck. Your apple ciders are easy-drinking, refreshing and well priced. Your pumpkin cider showed much promise, especially after the first pumpkin cider I'd tried. I wanted to like this so badly. I mean, look at the bubbles in that glass! You can't fake that effervescence. Unfortunately, this was not worth the $8.99 or so we paid for the 6 pack. Not even a little bit. It had a strange taste all around and wasn't very pumpkin. No spice whatsoever. Alcohol content was higher than other ciders. Maybe that hurt it?

From the site: "Every once in a while you know you stumble upon something glorious. That something just so happens to be our Private Reserve Pumpkin. We have combined our signature taste with a refreshing pumpkin finish. Limited to just two and half hours on the production line this is a true connoisseur's cider."

I respectfully disagree! This isn't worth it, folks. Sorry.

3 days until go would be a good time to start praying.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Operation Pumpkin

This past weekend, John and I took in a local festival we had never before attended. It was called Operation Pumpkin. I had a really good feeling about this festival for some reason. I think it was its clever name. The previous weekend, we attempted to take my in-laws to an apple festival that was a disaster. No parking. Huge crowds. Long lines for food. We spent as much time searching for a parking spot and walking to the festival as we did at the actual festival. So, I wanted to redeem my festival mojo with this one.

Come along with me!

Yes, that is a pumpkin. Many people carve out pumpkins of this size, or larger, and compete in the Pumpkin Regatta. This was happening the next day so we missed it but apparently, pumpkins are quite buoyant. Armed with an oar, sailors paddle their way down the river, praying not to capsize. Fastest pumpkin wins!

There weren't nearly as many craft vendors as a festival this size should have had. Lots of jewelry booths and random things like soap and olive oil. Can't a girl get a nicely crafted wooden, holiday sign or something? Oh well, we spent our money in other ways. And when we got hungry, we noshed on Pulled Pork with Pumpkin BBQ sauce which was tasty but not very pumpkinny. We also had sweet potato fries which I simply cannot resist.

Then we perused the pumpkin carving contest. These ain't yo mama's jack-o-lanterns.

This is a big face. Sorry for the fuzzy pic. The pumpkin probably came up to my hip.

Jack Skellington from Nightmare before Christmas -- so cool

I voted for this one in the contest. I thought it showed the most creativity and transformed the pumpkins into something else completely. The detail up close was insane. I hope he wins!

Then, we were off to the main reason I wanted to come to this festival (no joke)..........Wine Garden!!!

Sorry again about the fuzziness when I enlarge - this was taken with the new panorama feature on the iphone5
Five local wineries had tents set up for tasting. You purchased tickets, $1/taste or $3/glass. You'd be so proud at my restraint. I only bought 10 tickets and I split them with John. The tastes were just that, not overly generous. You would not be proud at my bottle purchasing. We bought 5 bottles. But before you scold me, hear me out. 1 is a gift. 2 we would have to drive 45 minutes to buy normally, and the other 2 were only $7/each. BARGAIN!!! And none of them have been opened yet. So there.

All but one of the wineries were familiar to us. In fact, one of them we had just visited the weekend prior with our guests so we skipped tasting at that one. We tried a red and white, various varietals, at each spot and revisited our favorite for a second time. It was fantastic! Standout for me was a warm, mulled spice wine and John's fave was a Ruby Red Port. I would have hung out there a lot longer if I felt like spending even more money, but I didn't. Remember? Restraint. Plus, I had to go to the bathroom and was avoiding the port-a-potties like the plague.

And that was it for us and Operation Pumpkin! They had live music and there was also a 5K that I had considered running but knew the wine might put the kibosh on that. John and I got our run out of the way in the morning (39 degrees!) I am glad we went though. Next year, we'll take my in-laws to this one instead!

T-Minus 4 days until 13.1..........

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Need Now

I always have lots of needs in my life. Some might classify my needs as wants but they would be incorrect. A necessity is something you need to survive. Fact.

Navy Nail Polish – I’m told this is going to be a big nail color for fall. Trust the experts. I have been in love with OPI’s Russian Navy since I saw it on a friend’s pedicure but have yet to purchase my own bottle. I need to see what the other lines offer as well. Ten possible options found here.

I was bending over at the waist if you think this is a strange shot.

Colored Cords - I bought these obnoxiously orange cropped cords at the Gap recently. They were on sale for $17 and I LOVE them. If you haven’t been shopping lately, you might not know that colored bottoms are all the rage. While I can’t bring myself to purchase colored jeans, I think these keep me on trend enough. Who doesn’t love a good corduroy? I wore them around the house for a full hour before cutting the tags to give John a chance to warm up to them. When I buy something a little outrageous I will seek his opinion but ultimately do what I want anyway. Let’s be honest. That chain of events happens on a daily basis with us anyway because I am always right. Anyway, I don’t need these now because I already own them but I do need MORE of them, in other colors.

New Glasses – I went to the eye doctor a little over a month ago and guess what? I still can’t see. I also just realized that the prescription in my glasses is over 2 years old. Oops! I have long been a consumer of cheap glasses on EyeBuyDirect. (Read: no vision coverage) but there are so many new sites for the frugal eyewear shopper out there that I might stray. I like to be able to buy 2 pairs, one plastic, one metal or rimless. Stay tuned!

Buy Here

Necklace - This tortoise shell monogram necklace is rocking my socks off. Not only is tortoise shell one of my all-time faves but a good monogram is just the kind of prep I like. Safe to assume I want it in all other metals too but the tortoise shell is so unique. It's $58 linked above but I've seen them on Etsy for less.

Cell phone Case – My brand new iphone 5 needs some protection. After suffering for    2 ½ years with the crappiest case ever on my junky iphone 3 (yes, 3) it’s time to upgrade. John bought an Otterbox but he’s tough on his phone. I am more delicate with mine and therefore deserve to purchase fashion over function. Just waiting for Kate Spade to release the newest models…….

What do you NEED now?

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Death Cure


The Death Cure wraps up the Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner. Disclaimer: If you’re planning to read this series but haven’t started yet, skip this review! There won’t be spoilers but just like Scorch Trials, the synopsis might give away part of that story.

Good Reads' Synopsis: "Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.
What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?"

  What I Thought: This was probably my least favorite of the three books but still worth reading to find out what happens. It wasn’t as suspenseful for me as the first two but I enjoyed the direction the plot went and how the trilogy ultimately ended. Again, don’t let the Young Adult genre throw you. This is a series worth reading and I’m a big advocate of stepping away from your normal reads anyway.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Recipe Reblog

I just can’t get enough pumpkin these days. I made a new pumpkin recipe for my in-laws last weekend. They were visiting the B&B so this was our very light breakfast.


Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins: That’s a mouthful, yes? A mouthful of goodness! I had chocolate chips in the freezer and thought they would jazz up the muffins nicely. I also prefer to use whole wheat flour whenever possible. I cut this recipe in half and it still yielded 24 mini muffins. These came together quickly, were healthy and delicious. Bake them up. Now, now, now.

P.S. Half Marathon, T-minus 7 days.........

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beer of the Pumpkin Variety

It's hard to come up with a post title other than "Pumpkin Beer" when you're writing about them so frequently.
Terrible shot - my apologies. We drank them all before I could remember to photograph!

Rivertown Pumpkin Ale: Rivertown Brewing Co. is a local, Cincinnati establishment but this is the first of theirs I've tried. Holy pumpkin, Batman! This is a winner. I have discovered I prefer the pumpkin-forward beers and get the spice on the back end. This one delivers that. $9.50 for a 6-pack.


Sorry just one this week. I have others that I need to edit the pics from. Some winners, some losers, some local, some un-pumpkin.

More next week!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Scorch Trials


The Scorch Trials by James Dashner is the second book following The Maze Runner. If you haven’t read Maze Runner and are planning to, don’t read this post! It won’t have spoilers for this book but it will spoil the end of Maze Runner for you.
 Good Reads' Synopsis: "Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.
In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.

Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?"

What I Thought: Oh, this is getting good! I don’t think I liked it as much as Maze Runner but it’s definitely still a dramatic, suspenseful read. The new characters are interesting, the old characters are not to be trusted. Lots of twists and turns in this short-chaptered, fast-paced tale.
Rating: * * * *

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Running Round-Up

October 1st everyone!

Safe to say September brought me the most miles I’ve ever run in one month. This could be why I’m a bit burned out on training. It could also be why my left foot has started hurting. I just need to get through the race and then I’m going to take some time off from running. 
Here’s what happened on the pavement this month:

 Sep 1: 3 mi OT in 31:00, humid
Sep 4: 4.5 mi TM in 40:24, 9:20/9:02/9:02/8:41
Sep 8: 4 mi OT in 40:00, finally
Sep 9: 9 mi OT in 1h38min, 10:56 avg pace, tough!
Sep 11: 5 mi TM in 43:249:05/8:47:/8:42/8:48/8:09, left foot pain
Sep 13: 4 mi TM in 33:52, 8:28 avg pace
Sep 16: 10 mi OT in 2:00, slow....HARD
Sep 18: 5 mi OT in 51:00, 10ish pace. Foot pain
Sep 23: 6 mi OT in 58mins, 9:40 pace. Foot pain last mile
Sep 25: 5 mi TM in 44:01, 8:48 pace, some foot pain
Sep 30: 10.1 mi OT in 1:44, hip pain halfway

 Total: 62.6 miles!!!

Holy cow! Most miles in a month, EVER! I’m really proud of those miles, even if some of the times weren’t my finest moments. I am ready for this race to be done though. I’m not sure what I’ll do after that. I’ll still shoot for 50 miles/month that I think I’ll be able to attain easily. One thing’s for sure. Distances like 5 and 6 miles seem easy to me like 3-4 used to be. That’s progress, right?