Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy 30th, Brian!

This past Thursday Brian and I were in Dallas, TX... the date was February 24, 2011 and it was a day for a celebration.  We were in Texas because Brian was attending a board review course.  It also just happened to be his 30TH BIRTHDAY!!

I have to admit I was a little bit stressed.  Initially I had planned to throw Brian a surprise party and invite all of his friends and family... but between conferences, call days, and interviews this plan quickly fell through. I was a bit worried.  How do you plan something special for someones 30th birthday in a town you know nothing about and a town without family and friends?  I do love throwing parties and planning events but this one was a bit tricky and certainly new territory for me.  I figured the best place to start would be a bottle of champagne after a long day of lectures.

If I had to pick one thing in life that Brian hates it would be "hassle".  He loves to go on vacation but hates to "travel".  He loves fishing but hates loading the boat, driving it to the lake, putting the boat in the water, and then realizing that we (usually I) forgot the bait.  So I tried to come up with a hassle free evening.  He loves steak and breweries so I tried to combine the two.  But I really wanted to do something EXTRA special since he was leaving his late twenties behind and officially becoming a grown man.  I figured no better way to celebrate and have a hassle free evening than by renting a limo!!  We went outside to catch the hotel shuttle to the restaurant and a black stretch limo pulled up.  I quickly walked over and yelled "SURPRISE"!!   I'm pretty sure he was completely embarrassed because he quickly ushered me away from the limo telling me to stop making a scene and that I needed to just go get into the shuttle.  In his defense this is something I would do even if the limo wasn't for his birthday but this time it just so happened to be.  Haha... the surprise was a success!!

As most of you know Brian loves to give me a hard time.  The definition of witty is combining clever conception and facetious expression.  He's witty. You can imagine the things he came up with when he saw that I was going to a nice dinner in a birthday dress... with a backpack.  You know it's pretty bad when Brian asks you why you aren't bringing "one of those little clutch things" instead of a backpack. Then he realized the backpack was actually filled with a growler of beer for the ride!  I told him he just needed to have a little bit of faith in me...  and my fashion sense!

Right before dinner we found out that Brian's good friend Greg was in town for a review course also.   It was starting to turn in to a bit of a party!

Later in the evening we found out that Brian's best friend from his childhood/cousin was in town for an unexpected business trip... so we picked him up!

And the next day Luther made it into town.

Things have a way of working themselves out.  It certainly would have been great to get everyone together to celebrate.  I wish that his family could have been there.  But with all things considered it sure did turn out to be a pretty great night!

I did have one pretty big revelation this weekend-
We were sitting around in the hotel room talking while we were waiting to go to dinner and Brian got a text message from his mom listing the exact time Brian was born.  It was at that moment when things sort of came into perspective.  Thirty years ago they were rushing to the hospital probably wondering if they had thought of everything they needed.  Thirty years ago they were praying constantly for a happy, healthy baby with a safe delivery.  Thirty years ago at that very minute his Mom and Dad were looking at their baby boy for the first time! Thirty years ago their lives changed forever!  How proud they must be to have raised such an amazing man.

It was then that I realized that birthdays are pretty important to everyone.  The next time your birthday rolls around remember to send a little celebration your parents way... because after all it's a pretty big day for them too and I'm sure wherever they are they're taking a few minutes out of the day to do a little celebrating.

To John and Pat-  Thank you for raising such a loving, generous, witty, kind hearted, intelligent man.  His friends thank you, his patients thank you, and I thank you!

To Brian-  You should be pretty proud of yourself!  You have reached some pretty amazing milestones by age thirty.  I wish you the very best out of life and I hope the next thirty years are equally as fulfilling as the last.  You deserve the very best!  Always remember that you are loved by so many people!

And now... the number one Billboard song in 1981:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Old Friends"

What actually determines when friends become "old friends"?  I've always heard people talk about friends that they refer to as their "old friends" and I've wondered...what qualifications do people have to meet to make the list?  Within the last five years I've learned that there are no qualifications.  It's not about the amount of time you've known someone.   You just wake up one day and realize that certain people are just "old friends".  The kind of friends that you know will be in your life forever.  They are the friends that will be at your children's birthday parties and fly out for their graduation from high school.  They are the friends that you know will be at your wedding even if it's 3,000 miles away... because they're "old friends".

Meet Matt and Kelly.

When I lived in Roanoke I lived in the Hancock building.  If you picture the building that Friends was filmed in you can sort of picture the layout.  Matt and Kelly were engaged when I moved in.  We lived right across the hall from each other.  When I first saw Matt and Kelly they were out walking their dogs, Putter and Jane.  It took us a few months to get to know each other but after those first few months we were together constantly.  Every night either I was cooking, Kelly was cooking, or we were going to Metro for half price sushi.  We seriously considered getting the picture frames from Friends that hung around the peep hole on the door... I ordered them off Ebay and come to think of it they never actually came... I should really check into that!

Since then a lot of things in life have changed...
I've met Brian, graduated from PA school, moved to Tennessee, and started my first job.  Matt and Kelly have moved to a different apartment, gotten married, gotten pregnant, and had their first beautiful baby.

Meet Evelyn Jane.

I can honestly say that I remember the day she was born.  It is so hard to believe that she was born seven months ago!  She has gone from this little peanut to this little girl that is all over the place.  She is crawling and making lots of great sounds!  So far she can say Momma and Dada.  I was working on Aunt Taryn over the weekend but something tells me that may be awhile! She is the most precious creature... so pure and innocent.  Her little cry makes you just want to tell her everything is going to be ok...even when you know she is only crying because her Momma is turned around talking and not looking at her.  She is truly a gift!

This weekend we had a lot to celebrate.  Life gets a bit hectic sometimes and time slips away from us.  There was definitely some catching up to be done!

We celebrated Evie's first Christmas.

First Easter (a little early).

And her first birthday (even earlier).

Evie met Brian for the first time... I would say that it went well!

Of course we did some cooking!

And Evie did a lot of playing... of course she preferred the dog toys to any others that she had.  Don't worry we don't actually have the puppy yet but I'm sure she'll be very happy that her toys have already been broken in for her.

We made a quick trip to Asheville for some play time for the adults.  Brian picked on me.  The boys bonded over knowing everything there is to know about beer. Of course we did some people watching.


It was certainly a great weekend.  It was great to see Evie, give her lots of kisses, and do a little spoiling!  It was great to see Matt and Kelly... it was the first time that I had really seen them as parents.  It's amazing how some things come so natural. Life is certainly changing every day and change is definitely a good thing.  There is also comfort in knowing that some things never change.  Thanks for an excellent weekend to my very "old" and very dear friends!

Friday, February 18, 2011

I think Brian and I can both agree that 2011 came quickly and it has quickly taken off...  things are definitely crazy around here.  Just a few quick updates on our new adventures!

Brian is in the middle of interviewing for fellowship programs.  He is in his fourth year of general surgery residency at ETSU and will soon be a CHIEF!!  It is so crazy how fast time flies when you're having fun... or when you're just working so hard that the days sort of blend together.  Vascular candidates interview at the end of their fourth year... so this is a huge part of our next few months.  Most of Brian's days are either spent taking call, sitting on a plane, putting on a suit, or sitting in the car.  I'm trying to help out as much as I can... it's so much more fun to go on a road trip and have a "drivin' buddy".  The most recent interview was in Danville, PA!  It was definitely a fun road trip.  We found that even the smallest towns can have GREAT breweries.  We went to Old Forge Brewing Company in Danville as soon as we got into town.  The next morning Brian went to his interview and I "explored" the town.
It's a small town with an AWESOME hospital!
After the interview we decided that we might as well make a pitstop on the way home.  The next leg of the trip was Baltimore, MD!  I never knew how beautiful it was until we pulled in.  The water and views are gorgeous and there is a ton to keep you entertained.

If you plan on visiting Baltimore check out the Homewood Suites.  We ended up getting a water view, huge room, and breakfast for 1/3 the cost of the "waterfront" hotels.  I would consider it one of the hidden treasures in Baltimore!

We went to the National Aquarium and we were quickly reminded why we LOVE scuba diving!

The highlight for me was the giant sea turtle.  When I was little and my Dad traveled he would bring me a turtle from every country.  Eventually, when life settles down, it is going to be great to get them all out and look at them.  At age 3-10 I'm not sure I was able to fully appreciate how amazing it is to have such a collection.  One of the items on my "bucket list" is to swim next to a sea turtle...I guess I'm going to have to start diving with cabbage (their food of choice).

We paid two dollars extra for the "dolphin show"... it was entertaining for two dollars.   The best part for me was getting to play with my 55-250 lens for my new camera. Brian got me a new camera for my birthday and I seriously think I've used it every day since December!  We were actually in the last row of the arena when we got this picture of Flipper.
Time for the PUB CRAWL!!  Baltimore had a ton of amazing pubs with great beer... real beer as Brian calls it.

And then it was time to head home.  It really is so great to get away... but even better to come home!  Especially when you come home to sunny and 60 degrees!  No better way to end a perfect weekend than with a hot grill and some beer brats!

Monday was the day that reminded me how blessed I am.  Two years ago Brian and I had our first "date"...  frozen pizza, a Ruination, and a movie.  And that is exactly what we did to celebrate.  Cheers to an amazing two years!

The next few weeks are just as crazy for us.  This weekend Matt, Kelly, and my little Evie are coming to visit... which is followed by a quick trip to Dallas and Brian's 30TH BIRTHDAY!!  There is so much to be thankful for...

Check out the recipe section for an awesome quesadilla recipe... If you haven't prepared leeks before (which I had not... )I had to watch a video on 'how to cut and clean a leek'

Saturday, February 5, 2011


As most of you already know, one of my favorite things is great food. I love to cook, I love to bake, and of course I love to eat!  My good friends affectionately refer to me as...Martha (I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing!).  I am definitely a sucker for a great new recipe and I get this honestly.  My mom is an awesome cook, my grandpa was a baker, and my great-grandma made macaroni and cheese that I would probably fight someone for.  I remember when I was younger and my girlfriends would come over. My mom would make biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, waffles, and of course slushy orange juice all for one her bathrobe...with at least four pies in the oven!  I do not by any means have even a fraction of the talent of my mom or my grandma..  They had that "let's just whip something up" attitude.  My mom is able to just throw a dinner together based on what she has in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.  I am a recipe follower, I am always at the grocery store, and I have had my fair share of kitchen disasters!

When I first met Brian I was trying to make a pot roast.  I tried to sear the pot roast in a pan before putting it in the crock pot. I was able to successfully singe the pot roast to the bottom of the "non-stick" pan which adhered itself to the coiled burner in the stove.  As I tried to pull the pot roast out I ended up with the roast, pan, and coiled burner which pulled out of the stove all in one piece.  So of course my solution is to carry the entire unit across the kitchen, through the french doors, and throw it in the yard.  I'm sure most of you can already see it coming but halfway across the kitchen the coiled burner released from the pot landing on the linoleum floor.  I then proceeded to kick the burner across the floor and out the door in hopes of preventing a giant burn hole in the floor.  We ended up going our for dinner and eventually laying slate tile (ourselves) in the kitchen!  Now I have learned that the roast tastes the same seared or not.  I just put it straight into the crock pot.  These are some tips I will pass along...all things that I have learned the hard way!

Between Brian and I,  he is the "we'll just add a little of this" person and I am the recipe follower.  His mom is also an amazing cook.  She introduced me to cast iron...and I'm definitely still learning.  Brian is the king of smoking meat, coming up with amazing marinades, cooking over an open fire, using a dutch oven, and making amazing soups.  Most of his recipes will take a little more time and we usually try those on a weekend off. I'll try to include step by step pictures with his recipes...they can be a bit tricky.

There are few things to know about the recipe section of the blog:

1.  I will only post recipes that I have actually made.  Not to say that I am a better cook that anyone else but I want to be able to give the accurate times necessary to make the dish.  I get so flustered when I read a recipe and it says prep time 5 minutes and cook time 20 minutes then I look down to see a pepper, onion, carrots, and celery that need to be chopped and cheese that needs to be grated.  It seems like it takes me twice the amount of time to get things ready by the time I turn the music on, answer the phone once or twice, and unload the dishwasher because I realize everything I need is in there.

2.  I believe in giving credit where credit is due.  I will always let you know where the recipe came from.  It may not be the original source...but it's my source.

3.  Unfortunately, I won't post any secret family recipes.  All of the recipes will be new...or at least new to us!  We like to reserve the family recipes for Christmas and Thanksgiving and they are best made by the moms.  

I'm excited to pass on only the successful recipes we have tried!  If you have any great recipes that are always crowd pleasers send them my way... I would love to try them out and pass them along for others!  Have a great weekend and a great Superbowl Sunday!  Check out the recipe sections for some great appetizers for a Superbowl party.