Saturday, May 31, 2008

Judas Rocks

Hey everyone! Not too much to report around here about last week. They FINALLY got the A/C fixed at work on Friday, thank goodness! It was so hot Thurs afternoon that someone turned the lights off and yelled that if anyone had a problem with it they could get up and turn them back on. I rather like it, but it did contribute to that general sleepiness I already had from the heat.

Other than that it's been a plain old week of work, working out, and working around the house. The current project here is building the closet for the front den that we're in the process of converting to a bedroom. Brent got it pretty much framed up today, which is super exciting. And all the lumber that's been in our front room is now gone, yeah!! Our new roof should be sometime this upcoming week, although we don't have a date so it's likely it could be shoved. And we've picked a contractor for removing the old spiral staircase and building a kick-a new winding staircase in its place. He's coming over Tuesday to walk through his plans, and it sounds like he's at a great place in-between jobs to get started soon, so maybe in a couple of months we'll be through all the major interior stuff!! Our landscaping plans for the back will take a while, but we know what we want and that's half the battle. Last night I had the most terrible dream. I had a nightmare that we sold our house and moved somewhere in Georgia, to a town we've never heard of. As we were moving in I was going through the house saying "we're going to have to pull up this carpet and put down hardwoods" and in the kitchen "this layout is terrible, we're going to have to get rid of this linoleum, rearrange everything, and get brand new appliances." Then when I got to the backyard I had a meltdown. It was a chainlink fence, not terribly secure, and I said "We have to pull this down and build a new fence". For some reason we also had two dogs, a little Jack Russell and Pippin. At this point I had a meltdown and laid down on the ground and started crying that there was just no way I could go through remodeling a kitchen or building a fence again. And then I started begging Brent to see if we could go back and get our old house back. Some people have nightmares about criminals....me, I have nightmares about being back at the beginning of a major remodel.

Last night we went to see Jesus Christ Superstar at TPAC as part of the Broadway Series in Nashville. As part of our "we need to see things that come here more" initiative I bought us nice seats for this, and cheap seats for Rent that came a few months ago. All in all, it just wasn't our favorite. The guy that played Judas was awesome (he's the lead singer of Living Colour - aka the group that sings Cult of Personality), but Jesus. Well, Jesus was not so great. (That's weird to type.) He's apparently quite famous for playing this role....but his voice was one of those "let loose and roll" things and it just made us both cringe. We may be alone in it, from the applause he got and how the lady next to me was BAWLING crying. But I am glad we saw it and it was a fun night. There are some great shows coming in the upcoming season, so I'm really looking forward to next year's season as well (Avenue Q is coming!). Also, Wicked is coming in the Fall of 09 so that's super exciting.

Tomorrow we're going over to a friend's house for some dinner and to hang out, so we that'll be fun. We haven't seen them in a couple of months, even though she and I chat via email at work pretty often. Ok, Brent's all showered up so it's time to head out for some errands and dinner!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's Getting Hot in Here....

Hey everyone! I hope you all had great Mem Day weekends. We had a nice one, with a good mix of work and fun. We had some friends over Friday night to play some Wii and eat some fajitas. I loooove anything spicy and I just love that recipe. Give it a good couple of hours to marinade and you're good to go. Naturally I got my booty beaten in Mario Kart by people who have never even played it before.

Saturday we worked in the yard and actually washed and vacuumed out our cars! We truly are not car people, the way cars get beaten and banged up I don't see the point in having something nice or fancy. So, we're really not that big into washing them constantly, but WOW! they look nice right now!

Sunday was more of the same and we had T & N over for dinner. I made some spinach enchiladas and horrible refried beans. Maybe I'm just an idiot, maybe it's a bad recipe, but next time I will open a can! On the enchiladas, I'd grate the cheese instead of cubing next time, and use more jack instead of Parmeson on top and prob use flour tortillas since I prefer them to corn.

Our plan Monday was to get some things done (Brent's working on the closet for the den we've converted to a bedroom) and hit the pool in the afternoon. So it started pouring around noon and continued the rest of the day!! That killed all the plans since we can't use the sander, cutters, paint, etc outside. So we watched TV, napped and relaxed. I can't complain about that...

Then it's been back to work where the freaking AC is broken!! UGH! It's impossible to think and by the end of the day we are all so wilted. It's nuts. And it's prob going to be like that tomorrow, too! After some rain today it was actually cooler outside than inside.

And Brent surprised me with a Wii Fit! He had to go through a bit to get it, but finally found me one! I can't see it being a fitness revolution that's going to reverse obese America, but it is fun and some of the games do make you break an ever so slight sweat. It even has running! We haven't totally gotten it all figured out yet, but it's crazy how it can detect your movements.

On the down side, we got a call Monday that our next door neighbor had a stroke down in Miami (he was visiting friends for a week). He's been up and down, but right now he's back in ICU (he keeps having strokes/seizures) and they can't get his blood pressure regulated. He has no insurance, or money, so we're really worried about the level of care he'll get when (if) he's able to be moved back to Nashville. He's the best neighbor ever, and we just hate this. He's still very touch and go right now, and it seems like he's going to have some paralysis. He's only 52, but his health is just so poor. He had a heart attack a few years ago, and he's always having some sort of medical problem he can't get taken care of because of his lack of insurance. It's just so upsetting, and Pippin is really missing his buddy. (They look at each other through the window of "Pippin's" room. M will wave at him, and the last time I talked to M I was looking for Pippin - I was working in the yard and couldn't see him, M was sitting outside on his porch and Pippin had gone to that side of our yard to sit and stare at him from our side.) Anyway, we're hoping for good news tomorrow, today was slightly promising.

Ok, it's time for my turn to get WiiFit. I think one day it's going to tell me it's surprising I can even walk without running into things (which.....I do trip a lot.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Vacay Report!

Hey everyone! I hope you're all having a great Memorial Day weekend!! We're having quite possibly the best Mem Day weekend ever, so don't even try to compete. Just kidding, but we are having a great weekend and even though it's insanely effing hot out there already there's just something so wonderful about the start to summer!! I am about to wet myself I am so excited about the outdoor pools opening tomorrow at the Y! Seriously, at our little dinner party Friday night at around 8 pm it was still in the 80's and I got bit by my first 'skeeter of the season.

But here it is, some pics (last) and highlights of our recent trip to Wisconsin, Michigan (UP) & Iowa!

We flew in Thurs night and landed around 9:15. It was a great flight and Midwest was a wonderful airlines. Our stewardness was super nice, and came back a second time handing out extra choc chip cookies (they bake them on the planes....they're delish, just like Doubletree.)

Friday morning we went to the Milwaukee Zoo, which was FULL of school kids on end of year trips. It was an OK zoo, not the best we've ever been to. A lot of the animals live in glass cages, not the more open air type environments you see now. I guess that has a lot to do with the weather in Wisconsin. After the Zoo we did the Miller tour, which was also pretty fun. We love factory tours and this one was pretty ok, it wasn't as detailed as Coors or Ben & Jerry's, but still fun. From there we headed to the Milwaukee Museum of Art. They have a GREAT museum. It's so gorgeous, and certainly one of the most unique buildings I've ever seen. Their collection is a great size and spans lots of various time periods. I prefer the Van Gogh-Monet-Renoir type paintings and then the more modern (but not super modern) type works of Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and things of that time period. (The Museum of Modern Art in NYC is my fave!) The collection was huge there and I'm really glad we went. By this point we were starved and we headed over to a cute restaurant on Lake Michigan. It was about 3:30 and they were only serving appetizers, which was fine because we wanted a big dinner anyway. We had some seriously great shrimp, beef kabobs, and chicken skewers wrapped in bacon. The shrimp was coated in some panko and honey and was TO DIE FOR. From there we checked into our hotel, the InterContinental. I had booked us a room with a river view and it was just gorgeous. The whole place was great and other than the stupid $20 a day parking fee it was perfect. We had dinner at a brewery (is there anywhere else to eat in WI??) and walked around downtown enjoying the night until fairly late. Their downtown really isn't bumping at night, but it felt so safe. There wasn't a single homeless person out harassing people or a lowrider blaring rap to be found.

On Saturday we had a great morning run from our hotel down to the lakefront. I just love the lakefront running paths of places like Chicago and Milwaukee. We prob ran around 5 total miles, just sightseeing and enjoying the nice, completely unhumid morning air. Once we got back we cleaned up and headed towards Sheboygan. My travel books had declared Sheboygan the Bratwurst capital of the world and we weren't going to miss that! We parked by their riverfront but could only find pubs and seafood restaurants, no brats. We ended up asking a woman walking her dog where to eat, and she sent us to the Charcoal Inn. WOW, it was SO GOOD! My brat was just perfect. It's just a tiny littler diner but we were both so happy with our food and voted it the best place we ate the whole trip.

From there we headed to Green Bay to see where the Packers play. We don't care about football, but the Packers Stadium is sort of one of those legendary places you just want to see. We were pretty surprised when we pulled in and saw a lot of cars. And a Finish Line. When we walked into the atrium we found it insanely ironic that their Marathon expo was taking place, and on Sunday the Green Bay Marathon would be ending there. Too funny!! We walked around, bought some souvenirs and headed on our way. We spent the rest of the day doing some hiking in White Dunes State Park before we got a room about 4 miles from the Michigan border.

Sunday we drove around the Upper Peninsula a little before heading back across the state and down. It was a LONG day of driving. And a CHILLY day! Most of the day the temps were in the upper 40's/low 50's which is something we moved away from a long time ago here! We finally made it to Madison and we spent some time walking around downtown. It's such a cute little city and seems so nice. Their state capital building is ENORMOUS. It's almost as tall as the DC capital, they had planned to make it larger but DC made them change their plans. We could see it from 5 miles away when we got off the interstate. We walked around the capital for a while and down to Monona Terrace to enjoy the view of the Lake.

We spent Sunday night at the House on the Rock Inn in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. As we were picking a place to stay, I read about the Don Q Inn in one of my books. All the descriptions of their "fantasuites" sounded interesting, and it sounded like a quirky, fun place to stay. And since Brent's birthday would be the following day I didn't mind a splurge on a room. We pulled up and there were about 3 cars in the parking lot. We walked in to ask about the room prices and while Brent was talking to her about prices I saw the binder of actual room pics. I started looking through them and realized the rooms were what I would call "ick" and it looked like 1977 threw up all over them. And a lot of them had these large cheese tubs for bathtubs. Vomit. Vomit. Vomit. I was able to get Brent to start looking at the pics and we told her we'd think about it. Ick. Ick. Ick. Another massive selling point (according to the girl at the desk) is that "even though all the fantasuites are smoking no one stays in them much so they really don't smell". Nice.

So, we drove across the street to the House on the Rock Inn (see above link). The outside looks super nice. The front desk girl there told us it was a 4 star hotel. The lobby was nice. The outside was nice. So we believed her and ended up with a fab 1970's room. Yeah, obviously the definition of "4-star" for me is pretty different. Anyway we pretty much just came there to sleep so it wasn't a big deal. We did go down to the MASSIVE pool later that night. It had this huge kids pool with slides and an enormous fish that spews water. After doing some laps in the adult pool we headed to the kiddie pool, where I promptly learned that adults scrape their ass on the concrete floor of kiddie water slides. 6 inches of water is nowhere near enough water padding for me. Ouch.

Monday was a GREAT day. We headed over to Iowa and spent the morning exploring Dubuque. It's a gorgeous town on the Mississippi River. We walked around their famous courthouse (it's been in several movies), explored a park on the River and then road the scariest cable car in the world. It's the steepest one in the US, built in the 1880's (or maybe 1890's). I'm telling you, it was SCARY! The view from the top was great but getting there took me holding on for dear life. We also did some shopping and eating there before heading out to Monroe, WI, home of CHEESE!!! I did some serious cheese shopping, their prices were SO GREAT! Literally they distribute to the grocery stores I shop at, but the price was half there as what I normally pay. I recognized the wrapper and the lady there confirmed they do distribute to the grocery chains. I bought a block of cheese for $4.71 and last night at the grocery I looked at it there - $8! For the same exact thing!! So I stocked up and we got a mail order form, too. After filling up on cheese we headed to New Glarus, to enjoy the Swiss area. It was so cute and we got some great deals on some small antiques.

We spent our last night in Racine, on the coast of Lake Michigan once again. We ate b-day dinner at a pub there and then grabbed a kringle on our way to the airport. It was 50-something we we left Milwaukee and 81 when we landed here! Talk about a temp change...

Anyway, we had a great trip and it's funny how much Wisconsin reminded us of Tennessee. Lots of farmlands and farms, cows, rolling hills. It was just a lot colder!! It was so strange to see their trees just beginning to have leaves, and their tulips still in bloom!

I narrowed down our 2,000 pics to about a 75 pic slideshow so enjoy!!!! (You have to click on it to get the descriptions I put with it, otherwise some of them make no sense!!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back!

Hey everyone!! It's back to normal around here, boo! Vacation was great and I'm working on sorting through the nearly 2,000 vacay pics we took to narrow down a few to throw into a slide show. Wisconsin was great, and so was the upper peninsula of Michigan and also the Eastern part of Iowa. It was CHILLY though! The first two days were perfect in the lower 70's, but then a cold front came through and it was in the upper 40's where we were most of Sunday and then into the 50's the rest of our time there. That doesn't sound cold, but when we landed here Tuesday afternoon it was 81! So we've already moved well into early summer. (And I always know it's summer when our neighbor's dog gets his summer haircut! I saw him today all shaved off and it just makes me chuckle!! And Pippin's mad at me now because I just gave him a bath....he has it so easy!)

We bought a TON of cheese and were able to keep it cool and fly it back in our suitcases. We ate our way across the state and had a great time. I'm now determined I need to learn to smoke my own sausages. I figure that's an easier task to take on than buying a cow and making my own cheese, or figuring out how to brew my own beer. I loved all the German/Swiss influences in so many of the towns, and there were so many beautiful Victorian homes built around the same time as ours.

My garden (and yard!) grew a ton while we were gone. I can't wait for some veggies! My new blackberry bush is starting to produce some fruit, so that's pretty exciting! The outdoor pool at the Y opens on Monday and I can't wait. We don't have a ton planned this weekend, just some things around the house and we're having some people over tomorrow night to play Mario Kart Wii, which I suck at and of course Brent is great at it. I really, really want the Wii Fit. That looks like so much fun too!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Monday, May 19, 2008

$60 worth of cheese...

This message was sent using the Picture and Video Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime® 6.5 or higher is required. Visit www.apple.com/quicktime/download to download the free player or upgrade your existing QuickTime® Player. Note: During the download process when asked to choose an installation type (Minimum, Recommended or Custom), select Minimum for faster download.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Greetings from Dodgeville, WI!

Hey everyone! Our bellies are insanely stuffed with cheese and beer cheese soup and brats and sausages and fish fries and kringles and absolutely everything in the world. We've been on a culinary tour through Milwaukee and Sheboygan and Green Bay and Door County and then the Upper P of Michigan before heading back through the northern woods part of Wisconsin and through Madison today until we crashed here less than an hour from Iowa. Tomorrow it's a sampling of Iowa and then through some various Swiss/German villages, a cheesemaking town and back to Milwaukee where we fly out Tues afternoon. It's been quite the fun trip and tonight we're staying at a "4-star" hotel that's well......not what I would call 4 star but it does having a kick a indoor pool with a GIANT fish that we're about to explore and hopefully burn off a few of the massive calories we've consumed on this trip. Loads and loads of pics to come when we're back in the land of country music. Although.....we've heard and seen a lot of country music and people up here, and TWICE I've gotten to sing along to my fave Ashton Shepherd song about coolers slushing on the radio.

But for now know that we're living it up in Brew Country and have a wonderful view of a full moon over Wisconsin farmlands on the eve of Brent's b-day!

And yeah, you probably saw this one coming. Cheers!

Friday, May 16, 2008

We're in.....

Milwaukee!

Land of cheese and brats and beer and people who say 'ey' and give us free breakfasts because we are so cute with our little Southern accents and apparently say "Wesconsin" instead of however-it-is you're supposed to say it. SCORE!

And Brent didn't know a thing until the security guy (who was a redneck who took his job WAY seriously) said "Going to Milwaukee, son?"

So anyway, we're off to explore Milwaukee today before we head out for Greenbay, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then back down to Madison and a little bit of Iowa!

TGIF!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

If Only I Were a 10-yr old girl

Hiya!!! In just around 48 hours we'll be landing in our super secret vacation destination! Well, I can't exactly say it's super secret. I think I'm up to around 2-3 dozen people who know, between relatives, neighbors, coworkers of mine and even one of Brent's. I've got a few rooms booked now, and have even shown him pictures of a couple of views from the room, in my attempt to totally throw him off. I'm printing various maps off tonight, and then tomorrow night it's final packing. When Pippin sees a suitcase he becomes crazy glue - the boy does NOT want to be left behind. He doesn't mind going to the kennel, in fact he LOVES it, but what he does NOT want to happen is to miss out on some excitement and suitcases mean excitement. Actually, his head is on the laptop right now and my arm is at a wicked angle right now just to type, so I guess he's pretty much always crazy glue.

So far this week has been pretty good! We had a nice and relaxing Sunday here, although it was insanely windy and chilly due to the storms that came through Saturday night. We did make time to get some groceries at Whole Foods. We got all sorts of yummy vegetables for the week. I was feeling crazy so I even got a thing of brussel sprouts. I can't even remember the last time I had them, but we tried them this way and they were pretty good. Not my fave vegetable but they're really not such a big deal. The breading really adds a nice crispness to them. We paired it with some grilled chicken and some fantastic mashed sweet potatoes, made with good ole Tennesee Jack Daniels. Tonight we tried a new way of cooking zucchini - normally we saute it with a little EVOO, but this time we made little zucchini cakes. They were SO good. They were very easy to make, and my zucchinis grated right up with my Microplane. They reminded me a lot of potato latkes.

Anyway, today on my way to work outside a particular historic hotel I pass every day I noticed several large lights and video equipment. There were also several security guards around, and I figured it was just another country music video shoot, not really an odd or unusual sight. Later in the day I went for a walk with a coworker running some errands. My building is about 5 blocks from the hotel, but as close as two blocks to work the public parking lots were absolutely full of campers, big trucks, signs about catering, and just a ton of production equipment. As we got closer to the library several blocks were shut off with filming equipment and were packed with security and lots of crews...We speculated who it might be and figured with our luck it would just be the governor filming some sort of "don't drink after prom" video. But we did decide to walk back on the other side of it on our return trip, in case we did see someone famous. As we headed back through I spotted a security guard outside a side entrance to the hotel, so as we walked by I asked him if they were shooting a music video. At first he didn't want to talk about it, then he said "no......it's a movie." Then he said "Think about what movie might be filming." Well, honestly I don't keep up with all that stuff and totally drew a blank. When we asked if it was someone famous he said "Oh yeah." So that got our interest.....We asked him who and he said he couldn't tell. Then he said "Think Cyrus." Ok, so that totally gave it away. I knew Miley Cyrus was filming a new Hannah Montana movie because they've had casting auditions for extras for several weeks now. So we asked him if she might be leaving soon, and he said she's spent all day inside the hotel, and only came outside to arrive/leave. He also told us she shows up around 10 am, and that she's been very nice to everyone. About that time someone buzzed his earpiece and he basically told us we were being watched and should probably go. As if! He also told us not to tell any paparazzi, but I'm figuring the paps know her every move these days anyway. So yeah, that was my excitement of the day, and sadly I don't care a thing about Hannah Montana and it would have been just as exciting if it was the governor. He did say they'll be filming there for 3 weeks, so maybe at some point I will be able to snap a pic of her and sell it for millions.

Ok, time to go and check all the stuff I've printed for our trip! Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

SuPeR SeCrEt StUfF

What a long and short week, just pure insanity!! This week at work we had consultants come in. It's not that I don't like consultants, it's just that I don't trust them. At all. Anytime someone wants to know more about how you do your job and what you do and throw in all those fab buzz words like "oh my, that sounds SO manual", and "oh dear, that must be SO time consuming" all I hear is "your company is paying me a million dollars to basically type up all the dysfunctional crap you all already know and then I'm going to automate your job so all of you can be eliminated and then they can keep us on retainer indefinitely because none of this is going to work even remotely like we just promised you". Cynical, I know, but I've been there done that a million times. So, my week was full of 4 hour meetings. I was stuck in 5 of them, so roughly 20 hours of my week was spent sitting in a room being peppered with free soft drinks. One of my coworkers was stuck in 6, so life coulda been worse and a few were only stuck in 1, so it also could've been better. Throw sucky recessions that make retail blow in and it was just a bit of an ugly, stressful week. One night I was so pitifully tired that we took Pippin on a ride around the neighborhood instead of his usual walk. If that's not "lazy American" then I don't know what is.

As a result of too much work and too little time I only got in 2 of my usual 4 lunch-time workouts. One of them was a run that I struggled through but finished, and then for my other one I went with swimming. I should've run but my knee is bothering me a bit and I really wanted to hit the pool. I'm still crazy slow but my main problem is just total boredom in the pool. It's just back and forth, back and forth. Over and over. I think I may start timing myself and maybe that will make it more interesting. Any suggestions to fight pool boredom would be great!!!

SO, the big news is that in just barely over a week Brent will be 31! And this year, instead of torturing him with projects, I am going to whisk him away to.......well, it's a surrr-prise. For him anyway. I can think of at least a dozen people who know where we're going. I've given him a few hints, like our plane leaves here at 7:55 and lands at 9:20 (nonstop flight), it's a state we haven't been before and best case we'll see 3 states we haven't seen. I've told him there are no bloggers I know there, but there are bloggers in nearby states. It's pretty stinking hard keeping it a secret, sometimes when I'm reading through the books I'll see something really exciting and just sort of squeal but I can't share what's so exciting. We leave Thurs night and come back Tuesday and I just can't wait!!! I've got to go back and count, but I think we only have 12-13 states left that we haven't been to, so we're closing in on 40! I know I'll never do a marathon in all 50, but I definitely want to see all 50 together. Speaking of, someone at work told me about this website where some guys drove nonstop and were able to drive through all 48 cont states in something like 4 days. Very interesting.

And tonight I leave you with the excitement only known as Pippin, who is absolutely dead to the world asleep after a day at Brent's family where he got to visit with both grandparents (my parents and Brents) and half of his nieces and nephews as well as lots of other family members. I'm pretty sure he's going to be sound asleep until Monday and he's gotten some sort of belly rash from rolling in their yard or something. Here he is in more awake times, loving the excitement of having treats mailed to him from Rich in Texas. He is one spoiled dog!!!

He has no idea what excitement is about to happen:








Once the envelope was open he knew there were some fresh treats and toys in there!!












This would be the point where he starts pummeling me to have a doggie cookie:












His eyes are screaming happiness! And I'm telling you, they looked and smelled so good I thought about eating one. It's crazy what the doggie bakeries can do!








Have a great night and happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!!!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Grilled Goodness....

Mmmmm.....I love these late spring days when it's nice and warm and the back door stays open absolutely all day long and you can't even fathom cooking something that's not on the grill and you have just as much mud stuck between your toes and under your fingernails as you did when you were 10 years old. Pure heaven.

We've had a wonderful extended weekend here in Dixie, where apparently everyone moves slower or something. I can't imagine moving any faster, but whatever. We had taken off Friday with the plans of heading to Cincy to cheer for my brother in the Flying Pig half, his second half M. He did it last year, but we were knee deep in kitchen reno and under some massive install deadlines. So, 500 years ago I had told him we'd come and be his cheerleaders and when I talked to him last Sunday I re-confirmed that. Then Thurs night, right before The Office, he told me he had several other families (aka ppl with lots of kids) also coming to stay with them to run the race. Umm.....huh?? So we talked about it and decided we'd come and visit in early June when we could spend more time with them, and this way he could spend more time with his friends that he doesn't get to see very often. It was a win-win, we have so much going on in May that we really did need some extra weekend time here to finish a few things up and also get some rest. And bless that dog Pippin because he actually let me sleep until around 8:30 for a few mornings instead of waking me up at 6 so he can come and get in the bed. Excellent. And our travel plans being canceled meant we could go over to Tom and Nicole's last night for some fresh, homemade pizza. I'm pretty sure Brent may have eaten an entire pizza on his own, so obviously it was good and fun to hang out with them again!!

Brent's pretty much got all the new baseboards and quarter-round finished up in our living room/hallway/front room and they look SO nice. I've done some of the painting/drywalling on that stuff, but have mostly been getting my gardens planted and in shape. I am such a garden whore. I.can't.stop.buying.plants. I started a lot of seedlings, that have been pretty bruised up by our massive downpours lately. So then I plant more seeds. And then I buy more plants to supplement, that will mature sooner than seedlings. And then I need some rosebushes because I really miss my gardens that I had at the old house. So in the last 3 weeks I've bought 4 new rosebushes. And since we'll be (hopefully) getting a new roof in the next few weeks I can't do any plantings right around the house that might be damaged by three old layers being tossed off, so everything is being planted pretty much all over the place. And then according to Brent, my latest garden expansion completely disregarded his drawn up landscape plan for the backyard! Ha! But he won't be mad when we have home grown sweet potatoes, for sure!! So anyway, I've got to stop before our backyard is completely dug up and planted with random things. But I did get to use some fresh parsley and basil from my herb garden tonight which was DIVINE.

Speaking of , tonight I made the most heavenly cedar plank salmon. So.stinking.good. We had bought some cedar planks last summer and just never used them, it seemed like I always forgot or didn't have the time to soak the planks. Yesterday at Costco we bought the most massive, delicious cut of salmon so today I planned ahead and soaked those puppies for 5 hours (they still caught on fire a little). This recipe was divine. I mean, anything with Jack Daniels and maple syrup is going to be good, right??? I added more seasoning to my fish - I added some fresh thyme and also some Emeril's Essence since it basically has all the flavoring you'd want on something anyway. And I also added some fresh basil to it at the end. But WOW, the smoky flavor was so good and I really hope I smelled up the neighborhood. We're always fans of fresh fish/salmon, but the cedar really gave it some good depth.

And thanks to spending 90% of the weekend outside my eyes are scratchy and I've spent most of today sneezing. Ugh. My mom has bad allergies and apparently Pippin has "inherited" it from me, too. We went to the veterinary ophthalmologist Thursday afternoon. He confirmed Pippin's spot is corneal degeneration, and all we really need to do is watch it and make sure it doesn't get worse. It prob won't change, and most likely won't affect his vision or get worse. I guess in an effort to give us our money's worth (which let me tell you, it would have taken a LOT to do) he did a big exam of Pippin's eyes, using all sorts of the same equipment a human eye doc uses. They did tear tests, glaucoma tests, shined various lights and used numerous instruments in his eyes, and did all sorts of poking and prodding on him. Basically everything but having him read T-R-E-A-T-S off an eye chart. According to the doc, Pippin has an excessive quantity of eyelashes. And a few of these eyelashes (approximately 4 in total) don't curve properly and can sort of scratch his eye when he blinks. So we need to be very aware of his moisture level in order to prevent his eyes from getting too dry and the eyelashes causing him discomfort. As a result we now have prescription eyedrops to put in his eyes every day for moisture. Additionally, Pippin appears to have seasonal allergies. The doc saw a little too much redness in his eyes and we now have a prescription ointment to apply every other day for allergies. Yeahhhhhhh. Although, Pippin was pretty thrilled when we got home to have a package from a blogging buddy full of treats waiting in the mail. We took some pics of Pippin opening his gift that I'll have to post, although it's too bad you won't be able to smell these treats over the internet, I was half tempted to keep them and eat them myself....

So I think that pretty much sums up the last few days. I ended up skipping my long run this weekend. I had 7.5 on the plan, but I'm several weeks ahead of the plan anyway and I was just more interested in watching TV in the bed with my boys than heading out to run. Last week's 6.5 went great, I ended up with an average pace of 9:01, with my final miles being around 8:40 so I think I will be a-ok for completing the 10 mile race I'm signed up for in a few weeks. I don't have any expectations or goals other than making sure I get a RC Cola and a Moonpie at the finish, so I'd much rather enjoy life and not train like I might get into the Olympics at one of these races. I've been getting lots of good hill training running outside at lunch, so I should be fine by the end of June on race day.

I hope you have all had great weekends and have a great week ahead!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Opry Goodness

So, after cheering it out for the CMM on Saturday morning/afternoon, we had a wonderfully delicious 2.5 hour nap. It was just one of those sleeps where you sleep and sleep and sleep and it's just magical. I think the tough week and early morning wore me out as much as if we had actually run!!

And then.....it was magic time! I am SO not a fan of country music, but I have to admit it's been growing on me lately. We've watched the Apprentice the last few years, and since there's never anything on TV we had TiVod Celebrity Apprentice this winter. That was my first exposure to that tall glass of water Trace Adkins. I couldn't tell you a THING that he sings, but I just really liked the way he carried himself on the show, and how he seemed like an honest, good ole boy. So, when the show finaled and he didn't win I told Brent I really wanted to see him in concert. All it took was some Googling to see that he'd be here at the Grand Ole Opry soon (he lives here in Nashville), so I started begging Brent for tickets. One thing B knows about me is that I am NOT a country fan, so in an attempt to convince me I wouldn't enjoy his show he got me a copy of his latest Greatest Hits CD. Well, his plan totally backfired because I was even more interested in seeing his show!! I eventually wore Brent down with a lot of dancing and whining and we went online to get a couple of tickets to the show.

We live really close to the Opryland Hotel tourist magnet, but the river sort of cuts us off from quick access. We left pretty early since we had to pick up our tickets at the will call window, so we got there about an hour before showtime. And clearly we were going to be spending the evening with a lot of gray hairs because the plaza was already packed and lines were formed of people waiting to get in. It was like bad Southwest airlines deja'vu. I have no clue why they had formed lines.....seats are all assigned anyway. Gotta love the oldies....We picked up our tickets very fast and still had about 45 minutes to kill. Looking around I saw there were several people dressed up as famous Opry classics.....so of course I had to have our pic made. The first one we went up to was Minnie Pearl. We started talking to her and it turns out she had run the full marathon that morning! We talked running for a bit and then headed on to the next one....Porter Wagoner. I don't know what he looked like when he was young, so I have no clue if this was a good replica or not. The third one we weren't sure about, so I had to ask and he was Hank Williams Sr. After some pic taking we headed into the Opry store where we tried on most every hat or other item you could play with, and I got a few little souvenirs for myself and a "grow your own cowboy" for my friend S. Now we were about 20 minutes from showtime so they opened the doors and the old people started rushing in. Our ticket taker was irritated at one of them who kept wanting to go back in and out, it was SO funny. I was really reminded of our trip to Vermont a few years ago when the old people kept literally pushing me at the Ben and Jerry's tour. It was nuts, old people can be so insanely cranky and pushy.

"Hank Williams Sr."












"Porter Wagoner"













So we made our way into our seats, we were in about the third row of the balcony, so we were still very close to the stage, and we were right on the end of the pew. We've been before but I had forgotten how they're pews and not actual seats. Luckily our row was of average size people, a row near us had several oversized people that scrunched the regular size people. A lot of people were wearing their race shirts from CMM and the two girls in front of us were hobbling which was hilarious. Before showtime they played about 10 minutes of clips and told the history of the Opry, and Minnie Pearl came on for a few to warm the crowd up.

The Opry is comprised of various "segments". From 6:30-7 was the "pre-show". Little Jimmy Dickens was the host and he came out and did a couple of songs and told some pretty funny jokes. He was SO little! I swear I am probably taller than him. He was too cute. Some other people performed in his segment, I don't actually know who they are or remember! Then at 7 the show went live on one of the country tv stations and radio. In this hour section you had your main acts. Trace Adkins started the show, then Ashton Shepherd came on and sang a few, then Crystal Gaile, and back to Trace. I wish they had lost Crystal Gaile because she was so bad and her hair is just getting gross. I'm not sure if she's been hanging out on an Indian reservation or what the deal is, because her stuff had this weird flute thing in it and was just awful. Ashton was pretty good, and WOW she is Southern!! Her accent just draaaags it's so Southern. Since they have so many performers in each set each one only gets to do 3-4 songs, so there wasn't nearly enough Trace. He didn't do a lot of my fave songs, but he did close with You're Gonna Miss This which is just the best song ever.

Little Jimmy Dickens, I like to call him "Itty Bitty Jimmy Dickens"









Ashton Shepherd:









Trace Adkins:










Then it was time for Post-Show #1. This was another half hour set hosted by Ray Pillow. I don't have a clue who he was, but he was pretty funny, sang a few and had several more guests in his segment. The final half hour, Post Show #2, was hosted by The Whites, another group I don't know but the lady had crazy eyebrows. There were a few more singers and they had some square dancers. Square dancing looked so fun, I really need to look into some lessons for B & I. After square dancing he may think the swimming lessons I made us take weren't such torture. =)

All in all it was great fun. A lot of the songs the various people sang were classics that most everyone would know, and it was just a fun touristy thing to do. I'd highly recommend anyone check it out, or take visiting peeps to it. The tickets prices aren't bad at all, and the way the theatre is set up there's really not a bad seat in the house. I definitely didn't get to see enough of my man Trace, so I'll have to keep an eye out for a real concert date in town.

Here's a video of the performance:
video

I hope you all have a great weekend!!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Country Music Marathon, Spec Report

Man, this week has flown by!! Between a few visits from the alarm company to correct a few things on the new system that weren't working properly, visits from more roofing contractors, work, and a trip to the veterinary ophthalmologist today for Pippin it's been one crazy week. But it's time to rewind to last Saturday and the Country Music Marathon!!

Our alarm went off at 6 am, which is way too early for us on a Saturday. We threw on some bike clothes and a few things into our knapsacks and then decided it was raining too hard to ride from home to Centennial Park. So we threw the bikes in the car and left at 6:30 and promptly got stuck like rats in a maze in our neighborhood, and I managed to leave the nice pamphlet they mail out to the neighborhood showing the closures at home. Blah. At 6:45 we were still circling and ended up just parking at the stadium with all the runners, basically only saving us 1.5 miles from home. The rain had slacked off so we got our bikes out and headed towards the park. The main thing I really wanted to see was the start, which we ended up completely missing with the traffic tie-up. We made it to the corner of the first turn of the race a few minutes after 7, and only missed seeing the first 3 corrals. The sea of people was nonstop (I think there was somewhere between 25,000-30,000 people??), but we did manage to pick out Jill, a coworker of mine, and then another coworker. Several people had told me what they were wearing so that really helped! We hung out through around corral 12 at that spot before moving on. (There were at least 32 corrals because I had a friend in corral 32!)

From there we rode by Music Row and decided to try to get ahead of most of the runners and get a glimpse of the elites. We headed over another row and staked out a spot outside Sambuca right at the 15K mark. Based on the helicopter placement we knew the lead runner would be coming through soon, and we seriously weren't there more than 2 or 3 minutes before he came tearing through. We had a great spot on a corner with a bunch of other bike people and as time went on more and more people came over from Music Row. At first whenever someone would come through the cheering would erupt, and then the individual runners soon became a sea of people again. It was so insanely hard to pick people out of the crowd!! Before long we saw our college buddy "B" come running through, and like every year she had a camera. I love the pic we got of her!! She ended up running a 1:35, she's crazy!!! Normally I just hear Brent tell me about how fast she came through, it was great to actually see it myself this year. A while later we saw David and Michele, and then a few minutes later I saw a coworker again, having a great time! He and his running buds actually pulled off and stopped for a photo. We even saw Brent's college marketing professor, who had NO CLUE who we were (it's been 10 years and we have certainly changed, plus I think the bike helmets make us even tougher to recognize!).

My form is soooo similar to his..












I'm thinking this "cyclist" sort of just happened upon the race....









Our super fast friend B:













And this is the picture she took of us, Brent is down taking a pic and I'm on the corner apparently flapping my "wings"!










David and Michele looking great:









Riding over the runners via Demonbreun:













From there we rode over to the marathon finish line, and only had to wait about 5 minutes for the first marathon finisher. We watched the first few come through before riding back out on the marathon course. We met the first female finisher coming in, and it was great to have such an up close experience with her! We stopped and cheered for her and she looked over at us and smiled, so cool! We staked out a spot around the Mile21/25 spot. We'd only been there a few minutes when a redneck resident's dog started trying to attack the runners/spectators. Actually, their FOUR redneck dogs wanted to attack everyone. A policeman had to be called over to deal with it, ridiculous. We saw one of the reporters from News2 running a great race, then saw a former coworker of mine booking it and then a few minutes later saw Michele looking so strong!! And then....there was the dead snake. It turns out right by our spot there was a snake that had been run over a few times. Every once in a while we'd get a runner asking us "uhh.....was that a snake?" And then sometimes it would just crack us up watching the runners step smack on it. After nearly 5 hours of cheering and being soaked through from the early rain, and then just cold and shivering all morning, it didn't take much to amuse us.

News 2 guy:













Snake on the road...:













Runner stepping on snake and realizing it....













Michele finishing strong!









Around noon we started riding back towards the start, I'm not even sure how we missed seeing the rest of the people we were looking for, and how we ended up seeing some people only once. The parking lot at the stadium was massive gridlock so we just rode our bikes home and went back later for the car. Spectating was fun, but nowhere near as fun as running it! It's crazy how large (and ridiculously expensive) this race has gotten. I think it's already $70 to sign up for the half right now....a year away!! Contrast that with the 10 miler next month I just signed up for that's only $25. Sure there's no big expo or flashy bands every mile....but that's ok. I'd rather have the money in my pocket anyway.

SO, that's my CMM report and if I get industrious I may even get my Opry report up tonight, too! (but highly doubtful!) Have a great night!