Monday, May 30, 2011

Beachy Keen Cottage Weekend!

Tybee Beach & Pier
I had an awesome Memorial Day weekend, with two of my best girlfriends, LC and VB!  We rented a beautiful little Tybee Island cottage, and had lots of fun in the sun.

I picked up VB at the airport, and then we headed to Pooler, where LC lives.  Due to some airport delays, we stayed in Pooler for the night, having dinner at Sam Snead's (their specials are the best!), fro-yo at Lovin' Spoons (Original Tart is my favorite flavor!), and watching The Hangover 2.  That movie had me doubled over laughing!!!  Definitely a fun girls' night.

The next day, we headed to our cottage bright and early.  'Fiddler on the Creek' was a gorgeous one-bedroom cottage with a private dock on the marshes.  We loved our little escape.

We grabbed brunch at The Breakfast Club, one of the South's top-rated restaurants for breakfast.   It's been featured in numerous magazines, and I really liked it.  Afterwards, we spent the day sunning at the beach, grabbed a quick lunch at Fannie's, then headed back to the cottage to freshen up.  We had dinner at MacElwee's, Tybee's oldest restaurant, and drinks at Huc-a-Poo's.  I loved the slow pace of everything, how we just had the time to do anything we wanted... exactly the restful weekend I needed.

The next day, we lounged about the cabin, cooking breakfast and lunch on our own.  It felt good to just relax and enjoy the beautiful screened porch, talking about anything and everything together.  For the weekend's highlight, we headed to Skidaway Island to go on a sunset kayaking tour.  Not only was it great exercise (we were STARVING afterwards) but we saw a gorgeous sunset and had a great time on the water.  It was definitely my favorite activity this weekend, bar none... and it's hard to get me to say that about something that doesn't involve FOOD!

The Wolfpack

LC and VB are two of my favorite travel buddies.  I can't wait to spend a long weekend with them in Connecticut in June, a Blue Ridge mountain cabin weekend in October, and the wedding of the century in Maui for LC/PD in December!

Family Photos :-)

I've been working on my "Before I'm 30" list, slowly but surely!  One of the big things I did recently was put together all of the old family photos that I scanned over Mother's Day weekend into albums.  I used a Groupon that I had for Picaboo, as well as Apple's iPhoto program, to created THREE albums!

I've also been working on a few other tasks... I went "commando" (and that's all I'll say about it!), used some coupons, at a couple of new restaurants this weekend, among other things.

The funny thing about my list, my friends are catching on and trying to help out!  They're offering to let me babysit their kids for free (haha!) and teach me to use a DSLR camera.   They're inviting me out, which is always great.

Anyways, I'll quit rambling.  But here are some family photo gems for you to check out!
My 1st Birthday

Love the 80s...  Cabbage Patch Doll, Popple, and Rainbow Brite!

My first car... red, and apparently British since I'm driving on the wrong side.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gleek Peek: Season Finale "New York"

Okay, there are definitely some folks who are going to disagree with me on this one, but I think the Glee season finale episode had more good than bad!  I think that with so many 'weak' episodes this year, this one actually stands out as a decent one.  Not a terrible way to end the season!
For starters, even though I wasn't a huge fan at first, I liked the mash-up of "I Love New York/New York, New York."  Santana totally carried that song, and I loved her hooks.  I didn't even know those songs existed, and I didn't like it much because I thought the lyrics were lame, then realized they were from Madonna.  Okay, Glee is forgiven.  Madonna is not.

Finnchel (Finn/Rachel) ANNOYS ME.  Can we PLEASE get over this?  And Quinn being angry about it.  COME ON.  If we could have eliminated this portion of the episode, and spent more time wrapping up the season back at McKinley, I think it would have been an improvement.

Best song?  Hands down Rachel & Kurt singing one of my favorite Broadway songs ever, 'For Good' from Wicked.  I've seen the musical twice, and that song in particular tugs at my heartstrings.  I loved it.

I am definitely optimistic about next season, though I am wondering what they are going to do after Rachel (and most of the cast) "graduate" high school.  I think this New York episode, where Kurt/Rachel discuss relocating to NY, may have been an allusion to what we might see in the future, but I can't imagine ALL of the McKinley kids could move to NY... am I right?  Looks like I'll be singing along to my Glee Karaoke games until new episodes return.


 In other TV news, I was definitely left crying after the Grey's Anatomy season finale... I think there's a lot going on, and I can't believe they left so many issues unresolved.  Oh wait, I can believe it.  They need us to keep begging for more!  The other guilty-pleasure show I've been watching regularly, Make It or Break It (an ABC Family drama about gymnastics with terrible acting and implausible storylines), left me disappointed.  They have totally left out a major character for the past few episodes, and the girls' win at Worlds was unlikely and just unbelievable.  Sigh.  What can I expect though, right?  It's ABC Family.

Looks like a summer of reality TV for me!  Real Housewives of Orange County and New Jersey (I don't bother with the others), shows like Spouse vs. House and Extreme Couponing, and cooking shows.  At least I'll save money because I'm not downloading Glee songs on iTunes every week.

Don't forget to get Season 2 of Glee so you can practice your karaoke and dance moves all summer before the new season starts!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Low Country Boil & Corn Casserole

Food in the South (yes, I capitalized it!) is different.  It just is.  Especially here in the Coastal Empire!

Tonight, we bid a fond farewell to DW, who is relocating to Texas with her hubby SW (another dear friend!).  But even though the party was in her honor, that did not deter her from serving up a huge batch of Low Country Boil!  I think it's the official dish of Savannah...  Since I knew the party would have a Southern main dish, I decided to make some corn casserole, which I first ate when my Aunt SR made it for Mother's Day.  (Check out the recipe at the end of this entry!)  It was incredibly easy, and tasted great.  I made it the way Paula Deen does for her restaurant here in Savannah, so I figured I couldn't go wrong... and DW loves Paula Deen!

My cupcake tower!
I also made some milk-chocolate cupcakes, with buttercream icing.  To decorate, I piped the icing on, added mini-chocolate chips, and added a little chocolate heart.  The hearts I piped onto wax paper, and let them harden in the fridge.  I think they were pretty cute!

Everyone pitched in and we all ate a ton and had fun, especially with all the adorable little kids running around at the party.  Definitely a nice, relaxing way to spend an evening, and to honor a great friend.

We'll miss you so much, DW!!!
DW and Me!

This is all you need, plus sour cream!

1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Before it hits the oven...
After...  DELISH!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Coach - an Empowering Portrait

Running for Indiana State

When I first met Dani, I wanted to run her into the ground.  Literally.  Back in my competitive running days, she was my #1 middle school rival, running for a team across town.  Initially, I lamented that this soccer player was suddenly taking our Indiana cross country world by storm.  She ran away from me in high school, breaking records and winning big races, and I doubt she ever looked back!

That being said, off the track we were actually friends; that's the beauty of runners.  We may compete with each other and throw elbows during a race, but we are all part of the same family.  No one else knows the dedication it takes, the pain you go through, how much you push yourself physically and mentally.  And in the case of Dani, she's the runner all the other girls wanted to be like!

Dani grew up in my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, in the house her Daddy built.  How much more Hoosier can you get?  A lot more.  She spent her childhood loving the Indianapolis Colts, Hoosier Football, riding bikes, and playing outside.

"My entire extended family lives in Bloomington," Dani said, "[so] it made for a fun childhood where family pool parties and get-togethers were the norm.  My family has definitely shaped who I am."

Dani also spent time playing sports, like softball and soccer, which helped her realize where her true talent was.

"In softball, I usually got stuck playing outfield, not for my strong throwing arm, but because I could get to the ball before anyone else... even if I couldn't throw the ball anywhere near the infield.  [In soccer] I played forward, again because I could get to the ball faster than most, even though I didn't do much with it when I got there."

Dani went out for the cross country team in middle school to stay in shape for soccer, but that was nearly the end of her running career: she drank a big glass of milk before tryouts, and finished dead last.  In the spring, she went out for the track team... and broke six school records.  A star was born.  Dani gave up soccer, and committed to running for good.

"[Choosing running was] probably the smartest, most life-altering decision I've made," Dani said, "That decision led to a successful high school career, which led to a scholarship to run for Indiana State University, which led to the opportunity to train post-collegiately with a training group sponsored by the shoe company, Brooks. I've been able to travel across the U.S., see many different things, meet many different people, and have built lifelong friendships, thanks to running."

But one of the best things about Dani is that she is not just an individual runner.  She is a teacher and a coach, giving back to kids every day, kids a bit like we used to be!  Dani coaches the Bloomington South Panthers, her high school alma mater.  It's definitely different being on 'the other side' of the stopwatch.

"Coaching is so much fun and I now have much more respect for the coaches I have had in the past," Dani said.  "It allows me to combine my running with my profession as a teacher. I have never been more nervous for a race than when it's my girls at the line, and not myself. You have no control as a coach. The gun goes off and you can cheer them on and yell advice, but they are the ones that decide whether or not to stay with the pack or drop off. After that realization, I made it a priority to teach my girls how to recognize what to do in different situations, much like a teacher instructs a child how to multiply. A teacher may know how to do it, but a child has to be the one to apply the skills."

Being such a young coach has its share of humorous moments.  From other coaches thinking she's a participating runner and not a coach, to teenage boys mistaking her for a teenage girl teammate, most people don't expect to see a 25-year-old leading her team to championships.  For Dani, it allows her to relate to her girls as a runner, who still actively trains for races, and as a young woman who understands what they are going through in their daily lives.  But her runners should never assume her youth means they can take advantage of their coach.

"My girls know they can't get away with complaining," Dani said.  "Whining gets you nowhere when your coach ran 15 miles that morning... they know I have no sympathy!"

While the amount of time Dani spends training varies depending upon the race she is preparing for (she will run 20-mile long runs when prepping for marathons!), she averages 60-70 miles per week when training for the half-marathon.  She doesn't follow a strict diet plan, but maintains balance in what she eats.

"I believe if you're working out that much, then you deserve to indulge on dessert, a beer, or a stop through the Wendy's or Starbucks drive-thru. As long as it isn't a daily habit, then it won't affect my training and will help keep me sane."

The Angler
Another thing that keeps her sane?  When she has some free time, Dani loves to go fishing.

"It's always peaceful to me," she said, "While I don't always have the patience it takes to be a great angler, it gets me outside, on the side of the water, and away from the go go go lifestyle I have. I teach during the day, work at Target at night, run everyday, and then devote my life to coaching from June to November. Getting to the lake and throwing out a line gives me a few moments of quiet and a calming view to take in."

If you're looking for motivation to get off the couch and run, Dani's best advice is: Get a training buddy!

"I have found in the past year, the busier I get, the more tired I become, and the less motivated I am to get myself out the door," Dani said,  "I'm fortunate to have a running buddy in my friend, Allison, and occasionally my cross country team. It is always easier to get out the door when you know someone is waiting there for you. You are ALWAYS glad you did it when it's all over. So, if you are thinking of starting a new workout plan, find a friend, coworker or relative to do it with you, or join a class of some sort. It will provide accountability and help keep you from backing out of a workout when you're tired."

Dani motivated me for years to get my running shoes on...  I think now she's getting me to do it again.

Dani coaching the Panthers

Empowering Portrait Lightning Round Questions!

If you turned on my iPod right now, I'd be listening to: Jason Aldean : Dirt Road Anthem, Adele: Set Fire to the Rain, Sleeping With Sirens: If You Can't Hang. (I have a very wide taste in music).

I never leave home without my: running clothes and iPod. My schedule is very full and sporadic. I like to have my running stuff with me just in case I get an unexpected gap to get it done.

If I could teleport to any place in the world right now, I'd be: in Oklahoma City. Boring, I know, but my brother moved there in October and I haven't seen him since Christmas. We've never been a part that long and I'd love to see him.... while skipping over the boring 12 hour drive through Kansas.

I have never: been stung by a bee or a wasp. My brother is allergic, so I hope I don't have to find out the hard way that I am as well. However, while my scent must repel bees, it attracts mosquitoes. The past 2 summers I've had 60-70 bites at one time... 90% of those being just on my legs. (Try running with bites on your feet and ankles!!!)

If I were an animal, I would be: a sea lion. I love them and they seem so curious and like they are always having a good time. They are always playing, looking around, or basking in the sun. That's a life I could get used to... minus the getting chased and eaten by great white sharks part.

If you had some advice for your 16-year-old self, what would it be? Make decisions for yourself and stop worrying about what others will think about it. 10 years from now the only decisions you will regret are the ones you made thinking, "this is what _________ would want me to do". And 50 years from now YOU will be the one living your life, no one else. So stop living your life like it's someone else's... start making the life you want to live.

Inspired to become a runner?  Don't forget our Road ID giveaway!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Road ID Sponsored GIVEAWAY!!!

Hey Aubreyland Readers!!!

Remember my post about Road ID?  Well, because personal safety is such an important topic to me, and because the folks at Road ID are awesome, they are sponsoring a GIVEAWAY!  That's right, YOU could have your own personalized, laser-engraved Road ID to wear on your shoe or wrist when you run/cycle/hike/anything!   (If you are randomly chosen, I will give you a promo code for Road ID!)

and ends on JUNE 5, 2011 AT 5:00PM EST.

Here's how to enter...
1.  "Like" Adventures in Aubreyland on Facebook, and "Follow" the blog using Google Friend Connect on the right side of this page.

2.  Leave a comment on this entry.  <--- this step is important!!!

For an EXTRA entry, follow one of the following blogs, and let me know in the comment that you did!
-The Modern Habitat
-From New Jersey to Texas
-The Infertility Overachievers

Not convinced you need a Road ID?  Read a few testimonials...  you might change your tune.

It also makes a great gift, and would be great for a child that does not have an ID card of some sort on them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Grilled Cheese & Green Thumbs

So today was NOT my usual lazy Sunday... not one bit.

I went to Savannah to meet my friends LC and MTM for brunch downtown... and finding parking was a disaster!  We forgot that all the local colleges are having graduation ceremonies in these last few weekends in May.  But it was all worth it, because our brunch destination was Soho South Cafe!

Soho South Cafe is an adorable restaurant "where food is an art".  It is an art gallery and restaurant in one, and the furniture is extremely eclectic, kind of like a vintage/antique warehouse feel.  It has delicious food, and is always worth the wait to get seated.

LC and I have a habit of choosing the exact same thing off a restaurant's menu (individually, without discussion!) and it makes us laugh every time we do.  This is the third time I've eaten at Soho with her, and both got the DELICIOUS modern grilled cheese & tomato basil bisque soup.  Grilled cheese?  At a restaurant?  HECK YES.  This grilled cheese has smoked gouda, cheddar, gruyere, and pimiento aioli, all melted together on sourdough bread.  Dip it in the soup, and you're in cheese heaven... why have one cheese when you can have a plethora?

SOHO South Cafe on Urbanspoon

After brunch, I said goodbye to the ladies and headed to Target and Lowe's for a little shopping.   This is where my day snowballed into something a bit crazy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

5K and Cupcakes

Me & JC at the 5K!
Today, I ran the Girls on the Run 5K in Savannah.  It's the 2nd of the 10 x 5Ks I am trying to run for my "Before I'm 30" list.  I ran about a minute faster than the last 5K, so I was happy.  I did the race with my friend JC, who ran with me in college!  (Actually, I didn't really run with her, she was 2nd overall and kicked some major butt!)  At 26:28, I was about a minute faster than the Turtle Trot!

After the 5K, I insisted that we check out a cupcake shop I'd heard of, Gigi's Cupcakes.  I was FLOORED by how adorable this place was!  They have tons of flavors, and we got there early enough to have our pick of the bunch.  I bought a half dozen!  (Flavors change daily... kind of like other chain cupcake shops.)  It really made me think how I'd LOVE to franchise one of these stores... if I won the lottery and didn't think it was a bit risky.

We rounded out our trip to Savannah with a stop at Panera for some soup & breadbowls.  :)  Everything before noon!  It's not even 2 p.m. and I already have declared today to be AWESOME.

At the store... yum!
My choices
Happy Weekend, everyone!

P.S.  My Top 5 favorite store-bought cupcakes are:
1.  Sprinkles
2.  Gigi's Cupcakes (they've really impressed me!)
3.  Back in the Day Bakery
4.  Georgetown Cupcake
5.  Magnolia Bakery

I really want to try Crumbs Bake Shop cupcakes sometime to see where they stack up... but I need to get to NY or LA again for that!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hey Runners! Get a Road ID.

[Update: The first 20 readers to buy a Road ID in the next month can use this coupon code for $1 off! - ThanksAubrey5710136.  Also, thanks to Caroline for providing the following 10% off code: PCMilitary10!]

Living on my own has made me pay much closer attention to my own personal safety.  From installing a security system, to updating my emergency contact information/making emergency cat-care plans, there's a lot you can do as a woman, as a person, to keep yourself safe.

One of the things I've been guilty of is working out (mostly running!) without any ID whatsoever on me.  I'm a minimalist when I run; it's hard enough to get me to run with my inhaler, let alone carry an ID.  I tie my key to my shoe and go.

That's why I ordered a Road ID.  ( Road ID has emergency info engraved that you can wear when you're running, cycling, anything.  Imagine you're running and are struck by a car.  You're not near your house, no one knows who you are because you don't have an ID.  If you are non-responsive, you become a "Jane Doe" to that hospital.  I've watched enough medical TV dramas to know that I don't want to be a Jane Doe.

There are a number of different IDs, some for your wrist, and a couple for your shoe.  For me, I don't want anything additional on my person, because I feel it when I run.  I chose the Shoe ID.  Everything on your ID is custom/personalized, so you don't need to put any information on there that could lead to identity theft, someone finding your house, etc.  On mine, I put my name/birthyear/United States, shorthand for "No Known Allergies and No Medical Condition History", and emergency contact info to call my parents.  That's it!

If you really don't want to put anything on there, in case your tag falls off or you lose your shoes, you can subscribe to Road ID's interactive service.  Your info is stored in their database, and emergency responders can call Road ID or log on to their system to get your information using a serial/pin # on your ID.

I can't count the number of times I've gone running without an ID.  But now, in case something happens to me, I know that I people will be able to figure out who I am.  And I think that's worthwhile for ANY active person to consider!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's just emotions, taking me over...

My Grandma & Me
There are some days that being so far from 'home' is really tough.  The past WEEK has been like that for me.  We found out my Grandma has advanced lung cancer; even with treatment, they are saying she has about a year left.  She has already had surgery, and will begin treatment soon.  On top of that, my Mom went in for surgery and will be at home recovering for the next few weeks, unable to clean/lift/do-basic-things and could definitely benefit from having one of her daughters around.  What I wouldn't give to be in Indiana right now.

I'm one of those fortunate people who grew up having all four grandparents in my life.  While my nuclear family led a nomadic existence for a while, and those relationships with grandparents were often long-distance, I got to know and love each one of my them and couldn't imagine not having them around.  While the memories of my wedding day are now bittersweet post-divorce, I will never forget how happy and lucky I was to have all of them there for me.  Losing Grandpa almost two years ago was devastating, even though all of my grandparents have reached their 80s.  I was overwhelmed with grief, especially since I had not seen him in almost six months.  (Sadly, I see my Korean grandparents even less often; they are the sweetest people and I love them so much even though they are so far away.)

Gleek Peek: "Funeral"

Oh, Glee.  Just when I've spent the past few weeks ranting about what was wrong with every episode, you did something right.'

***SPOILER ALERT... I am always putting out Glee spoilers!***

1)  Back to basics with the songs.  Singing on the auditorium stage, without a huge production, without autotune and overpowering background music...  perfect.  While I didn't necessarily care for the song choice of those auditioning (except Rachel's Barbra number... I love Funny Girl) , they all showcased the strengths of those singers and I appreciated that.  The BEST song hands-down?  Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka.  LOVE that movie, and it was at such a poignant time in the show that I CRIED. Yes, I cried.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Nurturer - an Empowering Portrait

This is part of my Empowering Portrait series, where I interview people who have a story to be told... survivors, artists, mothers, students, everyday people who inspire me!

I've known Bonnie since middle school, back when our biggest problems in life concerned nail polish, capri pants, and Leonardo DiCaprio.  How time flies!

As we’ve gotten older, Bonnie and I have stayed in touch; thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to watch from afar as she’s gotten married to a great guy, Rick, gained an adorable step-son, Reise, and become a mother in her own right.  Throughout it all, she has maintained a quiet, constant grace and calm that made me think, “Maybe I could be a Mom someday too.”

Growing up, Bonnie always knew she wanted to become a mother.

“Like all other kids, I always said I wanted to be a lawyer, doctor, vet, etc.,” she said.  “But one time I told my friend the truth, that I wanted to be a mom by the time I was twenty.  She flipped!”  Still, Bonnie didn’t let that discourage her.  Little did she know that her path to motherhood would be an extremely difficult one.

A couple of years after getting married, Rick and Bonnie found out they were expecting.  They were about 19 weeks along when they went in for their anatomy sound, to find out if their baby was a boy or a girl.  After finding out they were having a boy, they were sent to the waiting room until a doctor could see them.

“We announced to the world through text messages and Facebook how excited we were to be having a son,” Bonnie recalled.  Then the doctor arrived and delivered some serious news.
Bonnie & Elijah
Bonnie and Rick’s son had a condition known as Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, or CDH.  It occurs early in pregnancy, and affects one in every 2500 births.  During development, a baby’s intestines form outside the body.  The diaphragm forms and closes completely, then the intestines work their way back in; in CDH, the diaphragm doesn’t form properly or the intestines return early, getting in the way of the diaphragm.  This causes a myriad of complications; 50% of all babies diagnosed do not survive birth.  Of those that do, 50% require Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO, essentially baby life support) and half of those babies do not live to be removed from life support.

The news was a crushing blow to Bonnie and Rick.  They drove to a larger hospital to confirm the diagnosis.  Bonnie described the next two days as the worst in her life.

Lasagne avec Béchamel

This is how perfect Béchamel sauce looks! 
So my French friend LD is staying at my house for a few days before her return home... and my stomach is  loving it!

Last night, we thought about going out for dinner... then decided to cook at home instead.  LD volunteered to make some baked pasta the way she makes it back home... with Béchamel sauce!  I have never attempted this sauce, because it does require skill and attention.  LD, however, is an expert!  It was BEAUTIFUL...  I will have to try this on my own sometime.  Such simple ingredients, but something special.  Basically you whisk scalded milk into a flour-butter roux, but you have to add the milk at the right time, in the right increments.  LD and I stood there and ate sauce for a little while.  :)

While she usually uses lasagna noodles, ground beef, and mozzarella cheese, we made do with rigatoni, Italian sausage, and Gruyère!  (I think the Gruyère made it even more French... which is why I am calling it lasagne instead of lasagna!!!)  We layered the cooked rigatoni, cooked ground Italian sausage, tomato sauce, and Béchamel.  Lastly, we topped it all with shredded Gruyère and put it under the broiler until it bubbled and browned.

Délicieux!!!  I feel like Julia Child.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Folkloric by Vera Bradley

My MacBook looks happy, doesn't it?

I am not a big Vera Bradley fan.  I only tend to like one in ten of their fabric patterns; there's only so many quilted bags you can own.  I have two large duffels in the (now retired) Chelsea Green Paisley that I love, but for the most part I have trouble getting them to coordinate with my outfits because they're just so... busy.

That being said, I was perusing the Vera Bradley section at my local Post Exchange, and noticed the laptop sleeves.  I instantly fell for one of the prints: Folkloric.  I love pinks and greens to together.  Love.  And I happened to be in the market for a new laptop sleeve.  And since it's a really crappy Monday, I caved in and bought this one.

The good news is, this is a practical purchase, something that will be used every day.  Secondly, since I bought it at the Post Exchange, it was $30 instead of the retail price of $38, and I didn't have to pay tax.


Sunday, May 15, 2011


Yes, the title of this post is RIBS.  All caps.  Like I'm shouting.

I was reading Eat Live Run the other day, and came across photos of the cayenne-cinnamon ribs she made.  Drool.  And since I know she's a Savannah girl, and that she LOVED this recipe from Steamy Kitchen, I had to try it out.  After all, when in the South...  eat BBQ.

I found some awesome ribs at Walmart.  [Actually, let me deviate for a second to praise Walmart today.  I know, I know, it's the corporate big-box store machine.  But it's one of the few places to shop near my house, and today I was impressed.  I found great-looking meat at good prices, an awesome cheese selection, and great prices.  In addition, Walmart has started carrying things I've been searching for at other local grocery stores without success... jasmine and basmati rice, agave nectar, powdered buttermilk (Yes!  Finally!  A baker's best friend!), and more.  I can't believe I'm saying it, but they really impressed me today.  (I also scored a Danskin zip-up workout jacket on sale for $5!)  Sigh.  Oh, Walmart, I want to hate you, but I can't.]

I have never had such a big hunk of meat in my hands before.  (That's what she said!  Bwahahaha.)  I followed the instructions and removed the membrane, which is supposed to make the ribs more tender.  I was squeamish at first about it, but then when I started pulling on the membrane with my hands, I found its removal to be extremely satisfying.  It was much like removing those peel-off facials... don't you love it?

I mixed up the rub, choosing hot paprika that I use for Indian cooking, as well as cayenne pepper as the "crushed red pepper".  It looked lovely, and I massaged it into the ribs on both sides.  It was drool-inducing before I even put it in the oven.

My favorite step?  Coating it in maple syrup to put under the broiler.  I think that every single girl should keep pure maple syrup on-hand.  [Don't even bother buying the other stuff.  Pure maple syrup is what you'll need for baking and cooking, and it's great on top of your pancakes/waffles/French toast.  I grew up on Aunt Jemima "Lite", but being on my own I don't need multiple bottles of syrup.  Pure maple, without all the weird chemicals and fake sweeteners, is perfection.]

Cayenne Cinnamon Ribs w/Maple Glaze!
They were YUM.  They didn't exactly fall off the bone, but they were juicy, and the kick from the paprika and cayenne offset the sweetness of the cinnamon and syrup.  They were not covered in sauce, but still a bit messy... gloriously so!  I ate them with some easy boxed mac 'n' cheese, the Walmart store brand... surprisingly good!  (And 1/3 of the price of the brand-name one.  I'm testing out store brands lately.)

It feels good to post about cooking again.  I feel like I deviated from my cooking/sewing/etc. attempts for a while, what with the studying and all.  Yesterday's constant rain kept me indoors, so I accomplished all the cleaning I normally save for Sundays.  And I'm talking LOTS of cleaning... bathrooms included!  So to have some extra time today to whip up something to share with you all?  I'm smiling ear to ear.

P.S.  I used six more coupons shopping today, and decided my goal of using 100 before I'm 30 is way too easy.  So I've raised it to 1000!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Bookbinder - an Empowering Portrait

This is part of my Empowering Portrait series, where interview people who have a story to be told... survivors, artists, mothers, students, everyday people who inspire me!

I've always aspired to be a sort of artist...  a writer, a seamstress, a cake decorator, a myriad of hobbies I hoped to turn into something bigger.  But I tend to get into a new hobby and then fizzle out.  So when I hear about someone who has turned their inspiration into a artist's reality, I'm in awe.

I met Brooke Usrey when we were middle schoolers; we shared a love for running and speaking French, and she was just simply one of the coolest and most unique people I'd ever met.  She wore vintage before vintage was 'in', and her wardrobe was as colorful as a painter's palette.  It's no wonder that Brooke is an artist, inspired by the world around her: she grew up in the lush woods near Bloomington, Indiana, on a small goat farm.  My visits to the Usrey farm always felt magical, like I was visiting a place that was too wonderful to be real.

When it came time to choose a college, Brooke chose one in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, North Carolina that fit her to a 't': Warren Wilson College.  It was in the art department that Brooke first learned the trade that would inspire her to become a bookbinder.

"I started making books in college, when I took a book arts class [at Warren Wilson]," Brooke said.  "Once I began learning different structures, I was hooked.  I was always making books on my own and selling them at local fairs or to family and friends."

Bookbinding is no simple task.

"Most of the materials I use are recycled or salvaged paper, decorative papers, book board, linen thread, poly vinyl acetate, ribbon, and book cloth.  The typical journal I make and sell takes about two hours total to complete, with lots of glue-drying time in between stages."

Gleek Peek: PROM!

My three favorite Glee guys!
Alright, Gleeks, I'm back with my Gleecaps.  I finally finished watching the prom episode, and my verdict is a grade of B+.  There are only two more new episodes left this season, and I had really high hopes for this prom episode.

And you know what?  I wasn't too disappointed.  There was definitely high drama (FINALLY the evil side of Quinn reigns supreme), and I actually liked most of the song choices.  My favorite number?  The Glee version of that TERRIBLE Rebecca Black internet crap-sation, "Friday".  I mean, they actually turned that stinker into a fun, danceable song.  You go guys!

But I do have a complaint.  I am all for gay rights, PRIDE.  But does EVERY Glee episode have to be dominated by the "gay bullying" storyline?  I made a prediction a while back that this is going to end up in a Karofsky suicide-related after-school special.  I'm glad that Kurt is back at  McKinley, and that the show does such a good job of bringing real-life issues to the TV audience.  But I really want some more heart-felt storylines like earlier in the first season.  I really think they can do it.  The last episode I truly LOVED was "Furt", with the Bruno Mars songs.  Can we have some more of that?

Anyways, check out this week's episode.  "Friday" has potential to be my new ringtone.  But for now, it remains Nicki Minaj in "Super Bass"!!!

P.S.  Who wants to buy me this?  :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Did you know...

...Adventures in Aubreyland is now on Facebook?  You can "Like" us and get our updates right in your daily Newsfeed!  Check out the left sidebar for a link.

I'm having a little trouble staying motivated today.  I even had Toaster Strudel for breakfast, which usually helps a LOT...  but no dice.  Still, I'm trying to stay positive... be an Optimist Prime, not a Negatron!!!

This makes me giggle.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!


(check out the vintage shot of me, AW, and Mom!)
So for a while now, Dad, my little sister AW, and I kept it a secret that 'us kids' were coming home for Mother's Day.  We wanted to surprise Mom, and it was a TOTAL SUCCESS!  We didn't get home until after midnight, and we ambushed her in bed.  Her jaw literally dropped, and she kept looking back and forth between AW and me in disbelief.  We stayed up until 3 a.m. just talking.  :)  I also started scanning some family photos on the awesome little scanner I brought with me.

Yesterday, Mom & I ran some errands, and visited Dad at the office.  The whole family went to lunch at O'Charley's; I love their loaded potato soup.  Then AW and I headed downtown for a little shopping!  I really wanted to check out the new Vintage Vogue store, which I heard about on What I Wore.  It's a new Goodwill concept store where the better pieces (brand-name and vintage, clothing/accessories/home) are collected from the area and focused into one higher-end store.  It happened to be 50% that day, so it was packed with people!  I don't know if it's really a 'vintage' store, but it was definitely better stuff than your local Goodwill.  I picked up a couple of shirts.  We also stopped by Greetings, Le Petit Cafe, and Blu Boy.  I HAD to get a raspberry rose macaron at Blu Boy.  It was DIVINE.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Girl's Guide to Absolutely Everything

Yesterday took a lot out of me. I finally took the GMAT, after almost two months of studying... and I sucked. My score was only average, but the thing that really got to me is that I ran out of time on the math portion, leaving a handful of questions completely blank. I know that killed my score. I'm trying not to be discouraged, because I can take the test again in a couple of months. It's hard, because I really want to do well to get into a good business school, and math used to be my strong point. Sigh.

The good news is, I have a long weekend to RELAX. I am not going to study at all. I will doodle in my new croquis sketchbook, watch my guilty pleasure TV shows, and Facebook to my heart's content. I'm also going to keep reading The Girl's Guide to Absolutely Everything.

After the air conditioning debacle, I realized there's still a lot I don't know about running my own household and being an adult in general. NM, a mentor of mine, recommended this book, and I ordered it on Amazon right away. I was not disappointed!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The World-Record Holder - an Empowering Portrait

This is the first post in my new Empowering Portrait series! For each one, I will interview someone I know who has a story to be told... survivors, artists, mothers, students, everyday people who inspire me!

One day, when I was checking my work e-mail, I took a glance at the "homepage" photo on the e-mail website. I saw a girl running in full Army gear, with a caption that read she won the Guinness World Record for being the fastest woman to complete a marathon in full military uniform. My first thought? That she was crazy. My second thought? Wait a minute, I know her!

Sophie and I met in college, where we joined the same club. Immediately I saw how much we had in common. Both of us have Korean mothers (and yet never truly learned the language), and we both spent part of our childhood following our fathers' jobs around the the world, infecting us with the travel bug! As soon as I saw the photo, I e-mailed her, because seeing it just left me speechless. And I wasn't the only one who e-mailed.

"The coolest part was all the emails," Sophie said. "Every day I felt like I was getting 20 more emails from soldiers I didn’t know, from posts all over the world, from [Privates] to 3-star Generals. I responded to and saved all of them! I was so touched that I affected anyone enough for them to actually take the time to search [for] my name."

E-mail from a soldier to Sophie, now hanging on her wall:

When I saw that you completed the marathon, I wanted to say that was impressive.
When I read that you wore full battle rattle, I was truly amazed.
When I found out that you did it for veterans with brain injuries, I felt impressive and amazing were too soft of words.
The only thing I can say of your actions is that they are heroic and inspiring.
I have always been proud to be a Soldier and honored to be Ordnance, Soldiers like you remind me that I am not the only one.

The coolest part about the race? Sophie didn't do it for the world record, but to raise money and awareness for veterans with brain injuries. Because that's the kind of girl she is.

(Photos: Sophie on her record-breaking run, and Sophie being her beautiful self!)

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