Sunday, April 26

Some Fun Pictures…

We’ve been having a blast relaxing the past two weekends.  We have not done much, at least not blogging about, but we do take pictures of the “fun” we have.  Cooking, grilling, food, flowers, beer, etc…

Blog 347Ben’s smoked ribs! 

Blog 351

Beer and barbeque (homemade) 

Blog 369 Blog 371Cheeseburgers and Sweet Potato fries Alfresco!

Blog 395Ben’s Beer Collection!! 

Blog 374Freddie enjoying the beautiful weather too! 

Blog 403Beautiful spring Iris

Green Eggs and Ham!

We’ve had so many “events” lately that I’ve been buying groceries for special occasions and it’s been eating at our grocery budget, plus adding extra things to our fridge and pantry.  In and effort to clean things out, use what we have and keep our budget in check, I refused to buy any groceries for dinners this weekend.  (Other than the awesome sale on shrimp at Harris Teeter on Friday). 

Today was spent running (literally) and running errands!  After m run this morning, I set out to use my $10 Kohl’s gift card, check out TJ Maxx and Old Navy, get m hair cut and highlighted, and buy new food for Freddie.  I found the greatest deal at TJ Maxx…Cole Haan Nike Air’s.  I’ve been lusting over them for almost two years now, but could not come to make the $300 purchase.  But today…sitting alone on a shelf was a perfect pair of brown pumps in a 7.5 for only $50!!! 

After my shopping spree, errands and pampering, the task of dinner was upon me.  I always like to make our weekend dinners special since those are the only nights we have together, but I was pretty tired and needed something quick and easy.  We finally decided on breakfast…an omelet for me and scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits for Ben!  Blog 407Ben was pretty jealous of my omelet made with leftover ham from Easter, garlic basil pesto and sharp cheddar cheese!  Ishared with them since it ended up being a ton of food.  His compliments of it “tasting so gourmet” were awesome.  I let him on my secret of quick dinners on the nights he worked. 

I think we’ll make it through the week with only a quick trip to the grocery store for milk, juice and yogurt…this week should make up for the past few!

Fins to the Left…We are the People Our Parent’s Warned Us About!

Thursday we were lucky enough to take an escape from the work week to Margaritaville!  It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Jimmy Buffett and even longer since I’ve seen him at Walnut Creek.  An outdoor venue is always so much more fun to see the tailgaters and all their attire.  After finally finding the Tiki Hut…we enjoyed Cheeseburgers in Paradise, margaritas, rum punch, subs, mexican dip, wings, buffalo chicken dip, brownies, key lime bars and beer!  April 2009 109The highlight of the tailgate was my little sister Sara convincing me to shot-gun a beer…in all of my years at Virginia Tech and tailgating, this is something I never did!  I think all 17 of us including our parents circled around to enjoy the show.  I think we made them proud!  April 2009 110 April 2009 111

This year’s show was awesome and we had a great time…we could not have asked for better weather with the high in the 80’s.  It was the perfect kick off to the summer and it would have only been better if we got to enjoy Margaritaville a little longer!  After the concert, my uncle and aunt, Eddie & Lisa, came back to our to  stay the night.  They are fun New Bern and came to Raleigh for the concert.  We had such a great time hanging out with them…next time they’ll have to stay longer.  Eddie also brews beer, so he and Ben have tons to talk about! 

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Sunday, April 19

Spring To-do List…

This weekend was the first weekend we’ve been home without any plans in a long while.  We’ve recently re-organized our master to-do list and we started tackling the list.  First on the list was finally putting up the dark chocolate velvet curtains in the living room.  The room is basically complete now…we eventually will add crown molding, but as far as decor…it’s complete!  We could not be happier with the colors of chocolate brown and green.  The curtains really frame the window and soften everything up.  April 2009 038April 2009 039  Next on the list was new flowers for the bed in the front.  Several weeks ago we planted Double Knock Out roses and an Azalea in memory of the baby we lost.  I still had some space in the flower bed, so we decided on yellow African Mums and purple Salvia.  April 2009 053 April 2009 055 April 2009 054It was quite a productive weekend…putting up curtains (that I actually ironed), planting flowers, organizing the bathroom cabinets, and cleaning the house until it’s spotless.  We even found time later in the afternoon to go on a 3 mile run.  It was a perfect spring day!

Next up is painting a desk, painting the dining room, more organization…and finally installing a over the range microwave and a new backsplash in the kitchen! 

Impromptu Date Night!

Last weekend, Ben and I were finally going to have a date night…it’s been way too long!  It was going to be a nice quite night at home, making dinner, enjoying some wine and a movie.  But, work and family and Easter celebrations took precedence. 

This weekend was the weekend in months that we’ve had no plans and stayed home.  It’s been wonderful!  After working in the yard, cleaning the house, doing a few small house projects and going for a run together, we set out to get the ingredients for dinner.  Both of us were starving and it was already 6pm when we got the grocery store.  We decided on a cheese platter for an appetizer to tide us over.   April 2009 045April 2009 043April 2009 046 While we enjoyed our cheese platter of smoked gouda and jalapeƱo havarti with a Rex Goliath Pinot Noir, Ben grilled the steaks and I made a Balsamic Strawberry Salad with Walnuts and Feta Cheese and roasted baby red potatoes.  Dinner was delicious, although both of us could have made a meal on cheese, crackers and salad.  The potatoes were barely touched, but will be featured in a later dinner this week!April 2009 047 April 2009 049April 2009 050 After dinner, we watched Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler…such a cute movie.  Disney movies always put us in a good mood.  It was just a perfect day…no rushing, no worries, doing things as we got them done and doing whatever we wanted!  The weather was beautiful too…Carolina blue skies and highs in the low 80’s!

Inaugural Beer Tasting

Our friends, Tara & Rick, just bought their first house and moved in the past weekend and none of us could pass up the opportunity for the first weekend to have a beer tasting at their new house!  I knew I could not show up empty handed, but for weeks I was stumped at what to get such great friends for a housewarming gift.  Plants and wine would not do…but beer…YES!  I found this tasting set by Mikasa and ordered it, plus a set for us.  (We wouldn’t want Tara and Rick to have to bring their tasting set over to our house for beer tastings when we host!)  Ben went to Sam’s Blue Light and picked up a nice selection of beer and I also found a great book on the different types of beer with food pairings.  It made quite a nice basket, which I was quite happy to give to the happy new homeowners!April 2009 028So after an almost free dinner at Chili’s, which was the real reason we out that night, we headed over the Kups’ new diggs.  Boy have they been busy in the past 7 days…  After a quick tour of the house, we got down to business…tasting!

The beer flight set was a big hit.  Sometimes we feel like we rate beers higher than others based on their reputation and rareness.  We have discussed having blind tastings in the past, so everyone took turns taking the flight set, picking a beer and serving.  Then, we all chatted about the beer and guessed which one it was from the collection we put together. April 2009 029Rick got us all pretty good!  During one tasting, which no one enjoyed and I proclaimed, “I’d rather drink a low-calorie, watered down Miller Light”, he had snuck in a leftover Rolling Rock!  This pretty much proves we’re all Beer Snobs!April 2009 033We did taste some great beer and had a phenomenal time relaxing at the new Kups’ house!  I’m sure this is just the first of many beer tastings and fun memories with our great friends.

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Sunday, April 12

Happy Easter!

What a glorious day it has been. Sometimes I think Fall is my favorite season, but now that we’re enjoying Spring…it really might be my favorite. Spring is so easy to be excited about. When it’s a beautiful day you can’t help but to be in a good mood! After winter everyone is excited to enjoy the warmer weather and this Easter weekend did not disappoint!April 2008 052April 2008 056April 2008 059 We headed to Sanford for church, then Easter lunch. I brought what I thought was a new Macaroni and Cheese by Paula Deen, but turns out I made it for Ben’s 28th Birthday party and it’s one of his favorite. Ever since Julie, Johnny and the boys sent us the most amazing Mac & Cheese all the way from Seattle, (the perfect comfort food) I’ve been on a quest to replicate the recipe. The secret ingredient is Pepper Jack cheese.

After a few modifications I made something very close to Beecher’s Mac & Cheese. It cooks in the Crockpot and we timed it perfectly to be ready after church.

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (an 8-ounce box isn't quite 2 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stuck) butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups (about 10 ounces) grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Boil the macaroni in a 2 quart saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. In a slow cooker, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Easter Dinner!

Saturday evening my brothers and I all got together at my mom’s for an Easter dinner. A perfect ending to a pretty perfect day! My mom baked a ham, made a new baked macaroni and cheese recipe, green bean casserole and steamed broccoli.

I knew I wanted to bring a dessert since I have not made one in quite a while. I also knew I wanted it to include fresh berries now that they are back in season. After spending almost an hour searching for the perfect recipe…I finally stumbled across Tyler Florence’s trifle recipe. It calls for homemade lemon curd and while it does not have a lot of ingredients, whisking the curd for 10 minutes constantly almost made me change my mind. But it was worth every minute of vigorously whisking!April 2008 039 Trifles are always pretty easy desserts that usually do not require baking…they are always beautiful in a glass bowl! This one did not disappoint and the lemon flavor with the berries was a perfect Easter flavor.

Lemon Curd Trifle with Fresh Berries

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in chunks
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 2 cups sweetened whipped cream
  • 1 prepared lemon pound cake, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Lemoncello or Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

To make the lemon curd: Bring a pot of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a metal or glass heat-resistant bowl and whisk until smooth. Set the bowl over the simmering water, without letting the bottom touch, and continue to whisk. Keep working-out that arm and whisk it vigorously for a good 10 minutes, until the curd has doubled in volume and is very thick and yellow. Don't let it boil. Remove the bowl from heat and whisk in the butter, a couple of chunks at a time, until melted. Refrigerate until the custard is cold and firm. April 2008 029

To build the trifle: put the berries in a mixing bowl and toss them together so they are evenly distributed. Fold the whipped cream into the chilled lemon curd to lighten it up into a mousse. Line a glass trifle bowl with pieces of pound cake to fit. Drizzle or brush the cake with the Lemoncello, spoon a layer of the lemon curd over the cake, and then a layer of mixed berries. Repeat the layers until the ingredients are used up, the last layer looks best if it's the berries. Chill before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.

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Monday, April 6

Cooper River Bridge Run 2009!

This past weekend Ben and I ran the Cooper River Bridge Run with my mom and 83 year-old grandfather for 2nd year. Honestly, I was not really looking forward to it given the past few weeks events. I had not really run consistently since before Christmas and once we found out I was pregnant I really took it easy and did more walking and than running. Prior to the race on Saturday I had not ran in over 3 weeks!

I had high hopes of finishing better than my time last year and somehow I was able to shave off 7 minutes…over a minute per mile. I finished in 1:07:03 and Ben finished in 57:52!! I could not believe my time and I almost beat my personal record for a 10k I set back in November at the Old Reliable Run in Raleigh. Not too bad given the past few weeks and no training!

image Over 31,000 people ready to run/walk 6.2 miles!

I’d say the theme song for my run was the 5th Dimension Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine. The weather was beautiful despite the chilly temps at 6am when we lined up for the shuttle bus to Mt. Pleasant. It’s an amazing experience to run alongside 31,000 other runners as loved ones cheer you on as your come down the final mile of Meeting and King Street.

image The Kenyan’s running twice as fast as the rest of us!

image image Ben and I after the race.imageMy mom and Papaw…he finished 1st in his Age Group!!

It was kind of bittersweet to think we might not be able to run next year…if we have another little one on the way! :)

After the race we all showered and headed out to T-Bonz for our traditional lunch and celebratory beers. No trip to any city is complete without finding the nearest beer store…we made it to the Beer Exchange without doing too much damage. We were so tired we decided to head to the beach house for pizza and early night in bed!


Enjoying a Nut Brown Ale and Raspberry Wheat post race!

Running this race was another weekend that Ben and I really needed. It’s been nice to get back to reality and do some of the things we both love! I’m so glad everything worked out for us to still enjoy the weekend in Charleston.

Lazy Sundays on the Beach

The last full day of our Adult Spring Break was spent on the beach. It was a beautiful day, although slightly chilly due to the wind coming off the water. By 11am we packed up the cooler…it could have been the most expensive selection of beach beer we’ve ever taken out to the beach! We decided to bring a few of the beers we bought the day before on a surprise shopping spree at the Piggly Wiggly of all places.

March 2009 141March 2009 148 Our Relaxed Beach Beer Tasting:

Terrapin Side Project #2: Roggenrauchbeir

Flying Dog Wild Dog Collaborator Doppelbock

Weyerbacher Blasphemy Quad Belgian

Well’s Banana Bread

Sam Adam’s Blackberry Witbier

In between beer tastings we went across the street to our favorite pizzeria at the beach…Basil’s. Other than eating and drinking we spent the afternoon wrapped up in towels while reading, chatting and taking walks. Tara and I were not exactly smart when it came to remembering that the sun was quite strong and we ended up with a nasty sunburn on our feet. So we headed back to the beach house and set out for ingredients for dinner.March 2009 151

We threw together the most amazing dinner of grilled scallops, NY strips, chipotle lime shrimp, asparagus and the last of the Beecher’s Mac & Cheese. AMAZING!!March 2009 173March 2009 174 March 2009 179 Dinner was followed by more beer tasting!! Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout, De Struise Black Albert, Dogfish Head Immort Ale, Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout and Southern Tier Imperial Choklat Stout.March 2009 185 Our last day at the beach was exactly what we needed…it was so nice to do nothing and no one cared that we did that!