Thursday, March 29, 2012

1/2 Marathon in Atlanta!

Let's clarify right off that bat- I don't really run. Ever. Okay, sometimes I run. But overall, I'm a walker, and here's why:

How can you not bust out laughing when you see that?! Yes, that's me, so 13.1 miles is completely out of the question!

My sister, on the other hand, is a rocking runner with a rocking I-have-had-two-kids-and-still-have-abs body. She IS the first picture! 

So two weekends ago she ran the Publix half marathon in Atlanta, and Matt and I went down to cheer her across the finish line before church. 

It's amazing how cheering people on at an event like that can give you this overwhelming sensation of "I could DO this!" And then you leave and remember you hate running, and your knees have somehow aged 5 times faster than the rest of your body and will make you pay if you attempt to run on anything but a treadmill for any distance farther than a 5k, and you'll spend the next few days walking like your whole body is nearing 100, not just your knees, and you'll say things to your class like, "sorry guys, I'm a little slow on the stairs, go ahead to your next stopping point". . . . or maybe that's just me. :)

Here are some pics from the morning!

Here she comes! (black sports bra, blue shorts)

See?! Picture one from above. She is so picture-one that she picked up gummy bears at some point during the race (probably some sort of healthy energy gummy they passed out to the racers as they ran by) and held on to them to give to Noah and Maddox when she saw them 10-something miles later. Picture one. :)

There she goes for the strong finish!

Running their own race while they wait for my sister to meet up with us!

Such a competitor! These were her goal times for each mile- love it!
Mine would say this:
Chat with people cheering you on from the sidelines


This precious girl is Sophia from our kindergarten class at church! My mom, sister, and I were posing for our picture when she ran up and jumped in right as it was being taken! I had no idea she was even at the race, nor did she say hi initially- just jumped in and smiled! HA! Love it.

Proud of their mama! Look at Noah's toothless smile! ;)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up and Blog Debuts

This weekend, Matt's Aunt Leslie and cousin, Abby, came through Atlanta on their way back from visiting different colleges. Where did they go on two of their visits, you ask? Furman and Clemson! It's only fitting really, since they are two of the BEST schools you could possibly attend in one of the nicest states in all of the United States (really, it won the award at some point I'm sure).

Abby had two requests for their afternoon in Atlanta. Eat lunch at Souper Jenny (of COURSE!), and make her blog debut. HA! I love it. I can understand the second request since this blog is read by millions each week. ;) SO, we decided to make the blog debut picture come from Souper Jenny. Perfect! Here it is!

Abby- it's official. You will forever be a part of the blog archives. :)

Love you, dear! I'm hoping our future blog pictures will involve lots of orange and purple, with action shots of us yelling together, "Go Tigers!!!!" Ahhh. . . yes, what a vision. :)

In other news......... 

Wait for it............

We got a new fancy camera!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On second thought, that probably was a build up more appropriate for a pregnancy announcement, but I've been uncontrollably excited about this purchase, so we'll go with it.

Take a look at this beauty.

Ahhhhhhhh!!!! (that should be read like a part in a movie involving angels and bright lights, not the screaming kind of "ahhhhhhh". Almost like a "ha-le-lu-jah", if you will.) You with me?!

And in other, other news, we have taken the first step toward crossing off a number of things on our To-Do list for the backyard. Which, in reality, should probably receive the same reaction as above. But, considering the fact that we have NO idea how much yard glorification costs, I'm trying to keep myself calm. I did, however, sneak a picture of our "visionary" jotting down notes as he assessed the situation that is our back yard. I would have loved to be in his head as he looked at what he had to work with. I peeked at him through the kitchen window a few times as he stood there with one hand on his hip. I feel you, buddy. I've stood in that same spot with that same demeanor a NUMBER of times.

We'd like to have the fence replaced first, then move the random circle of stones to the back corner where the original fire pit is (remember when THAT was uncovered?!), have some sort of grass laid (I know it's tough to tell (ahem, sarcasm), but that green there on the ground in actually 100% weeds.), create a little patio/fire pit area, a low wall outlining the yard with some plants/landscaping inside, and then have pavers put over the now-standing cement patio area.

Hence, why I've been trying to get on a TV show for the past year so that we could have it all done for free. But that's not working out too well, so I figured an estimate of what each project would cost couldn't hurt.

He'll get back to us later this week with his ideas and a cost-estimate. We shall see!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012


These last two weeks have flown by. . . here are some highlights!

Matt's sister, Karen, is getting closer to her April 4th due date! Here we are at one of her showers. :)

This is Ben Rector opening for Need to Breathe at The Tabernacle. He was SO good! 

In a tribute to Whitney, Ben Rector covered Matt's fave- I Wanna Dance with Somebody.

Need to Breathe

A sweet little kindergarten boy that I mentor at school made this on Dr. Seuss's birthday. 
"I play soccer and I am fun. I love getting dirty. I love planes. I am curious about soccer. I love Saxin (his brother). I love riding my bike. I love Hall of Fame (game).

One of my kids made this card for a student in our class that broke her leg:
Why'd you get hurt partner?

How about that "buy one get one free joke" coupon?!

Last Friday, Matt and I were able to watch the first round of the ACC tournament games at Philips. What fun! Wish we could have been there Sunday when Florida State took home the title!

Last weekend, we celebrated my step-sister's and step-brother's birthdays at a party in Monroe!

Kathryn and Brian- 29 will be a good year for both of them. ;)

Funny story: Jennifer and I wanted to get a picture of the four of us before Matt and I left to go home. So we asked a friend to take the picture. We were thinking your standard stand-together-and-smile picture. The picture-taker had something else in mind. In a matter of seconds, we went from standing side-by-side to this:

and this. . .

haha- Jennifer with the guitar- love it. I'd say we're ready for our album cover!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rachael Ray's You-Won't-Be-Single-for-Long Vodka Sauce and tips from the Cooking Class!

This post is long overdue! In January, Matt and I went to a cooking class at the Viking School. It was the first time I had ever taken a cooking class, and I loved every minute of it! We learned three main "tricks" from the class that I promised to share with you guys.

Trick #1: How to chop an onion
Let me first say that I feel like this works better with jumbo onions, but I'll still share what they showed us. . .

Chop the onion in half like I did in this picture.

Cut off the shorter end.

Lift out the middle part.

Hold the remaining end (this is where I think it makes more sense with jumbo onions for a better grip).

Cut into to the end, but not all the way.

Then cut off the other end. (If you want diced onions, continue holding the end and slice 3-4 times perpendicular to the other cuts before cutting off the edge.)

I'll be  honest and say I'm a creature of habit with chopping onions and feel like my way is still a bit quicker than this. BUT, these next two tricks, I'm using all the time!

Trick #2: How to mince garlic w/o a garlic mincer
Our lead chef told us that garlic mincers absorb much of the flavor of fresh garlic. So she showed us this trick for mincing it without a garlic press:

These are two cloves from an ear of garlic.

With the handle of the knife hanging off of the counter and the blade flat, smash down on the garlic with your hand.

Peel off the outer shell.

Repeat the smashing step from above.

Keeping the point of the knife in the same spot, bring the rest of the knife down quickly over the garlic to mince it.

Voila! Minced garlic in the same amount of time as using a press!

Trick #3: Always save the ends of cheese blocks and use them in homemade sauces
If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, it's no secret that I LOVE locatelli parmesan. It's a pecorino romano that's made in Italy, and it is SOOO good! You can buy it at Costco- worth every penny! . . .So, in the past, I've alway thrown away the ends when they get to hard to grade and lose their good flavor. But not anymore! We learned that you can put the ends in sauces as they simmer. You can see this below in the Vodka Sauce recipe.

And now for the recipe: Rachael Ray's You-Won't-Be-Single-for-Long Vodka Sauce

INGREDIENTS: (This recipe serves 4... I typically double it and freeze the leftovers)
1T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
Coarse salt and pepper
1 pound pasta, such as penne rigate or rigatoni
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
I also added the end piece of a block of Locatelli parmesan while the sauce simmered, as well as a dash or two of sugar to taste.

*When doubling this recipe, I do not double the butter, EVOO, or basil leaves.

Sauté onions in garlic, butter, and EVOO. Add vodka (all of the alcohol with will cooked out- this is a family-friendly meal!) and end of the parmesan block. Reduce by half. Add tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes so that it reduces slightly. Add heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Make sure you use good tomatoes and chicken stock

I bought peeled whole tomatoes because I like the San Marzanos, so I blended them before adding to the pan. However, if you simmer for a few hours before serving, the tomatoes will burst so there's no need to blend.