February 12, 2014

Something To Look Forward To

We have so many exciting things coming up within the next couple of months.  With football over and the cold weather  definitely here to stay, it helps to have events to look forward to throughout the months of February, March and April!  Here's a list of some things I'm looking forward to!
Alton Brown!  He is coming to Proctor's in Schenectady and we have great seats for the show!  Adam loves Alton Brown, he credits him as one of the people who inspired him to start cooking - so I got us tickets as part of his birthday present.  The show is supposed to be a mix of cooking demonstrations, comedy, live music and audience interaction.  I really hope Adam is one of the ones who gets to go up on stage!
Darius Rucker and the Eli Young Band ... Hootie anyone?  I didn't actually buy tickets to this show but my friend had an extra one and asked me if I wanted to go.  I really like Darius Rucker and I have never been to actual country concert; I think I'm going to have to wear my cowboy boots that I bought in Missouri for this one!
This coming weekend is the Mac & Cheese Bowl and I am beyond excited!  I have wanted to go to this for years but for some reason I wasn't able to go the past couple - but this year we are going!  We'll be able to taste over 30 different varieties of mac and cheese from various local restaurants; and better yet - the event benefits the Regional Food Bank!
Yeezus.  Let me start off by saying that I do NOT in anyway like Kanye West, in fact apart of me would almost rather protest this event than attend.  He annoys me, it bothers me more than it should that he named his child North West and I begrudgingly like only some of his music.  But Adam is a fan, and let's be honest this concert is supposed to be a spectacle!  We were able to get pre-sale tickets so we have front row seats in the balcony which is going to give us a great view.  Regardless of my feels toward him I do like some of his music and the concert will definitely be interesting.
In mid-March Adam and I are heading to Boston for the weekend.  My sister is throwing (weight) at the East Coast Athletic Championships (ECACs) there and since she goes to school in Virginia Boston is pretty much the closest she will ever come to Albany; so we want to go, support her and also have a nice weekend in Boston.  Turns out that the weekend we will be there is also the weekend that the Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show are playing at the TD Center - what luck!  I am super excited for this concert!  We also go a hotel within walking distance of the venue so overall it should be a great weekend.
Book of Mormon!  I blogged about this over Christmas and I am still just as excited!  Adam bought tickets for the three of us much earlier in the year but didn't give them to us on Christmas morning, it was first present we opened and there were screams!  The show is in mid-March at Proctors in Schenectady and should be awesome!
THE GOO GOO DOLLS ARE COMING!  I am SO EXCITED!  I know, I know but I LOVE the Goo Goo Dolls and for one reason or another have missed them the last couple of times they have come around.  This time though they are preforming their 'Otis Midnight Acoustic Session' at The Egg in the small theater.  Having seen shows in the small theater before I know this will be an awesome concert.  Adam, being the wonderful boyfriend he is, is actually going to walk to the The Egg box office the Friday the tickets go on sale to ensure that we get seats!

Bruuuuuuce!  Bruce Springsteen is coming to the Times Union Center.  At this point I am unsure of whether or not I will be able to get tickets (they go on sale while I'm in a meeting), but afterwards I am going to try.  I feel like I need to see Bruce live at least once in my life!

Adam is really excited about this concert and I am game as well.  The Hold Steady is coming to The Hollow Bar + Kitchen in Albany, which means it will be a really intimate and fun show!

Lastly, Adam and I are going to Boston for a long weekend in July and even though it is a long way out, I am still looking forward to it.  We got a deal from the website ZOZI that offered two nights in a really nice hotel for under $200, which is a great deal!  We're staying right in the heart of downtown and we recently got tickets to the Red Sox vs. Royals game that Saturday night!  I'm really looking forward to this trip and seeing a game at Fenway.

January 29, 2014

Simple Sweet Potato + Eggs

I came across this Easy Sweet Potato + Eggs recipe a couple of weeks ago and was stoked to recreate it!  I even went out and bought a Julienne peeler so I could make sweet potato 'noodles'.  The truth is I really don't like eggs, but I try to eat them every now and then.  This recipe was easy and while obviously one of the key ingredients is eggs there is so much other good stuff in it that I really liked this recipe.
Sweet Potato + Eggs
1 medium/large sweet potato
2 eggs
2 - 3 slices turkey bacon (or regular bacon)
1 TBS butter (or other cooking fat)
Cheddar cheese (optional)
Cook the turkey bacon and then set aside ~ while the turkey bacon is cooking peel the sweet potato ~ using a julienne peeler, peel the potatoes, making a pile of sweet potato 'noodles' ~ once the bacon is cooked add the 1 TBS butter and cook the sweet potato 'noodles' (if you like, season the potatoes) ~ once the sweet potatoes have softened transfer them to an oven safe or cast iron skillet ~ place the skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, set up the oven rack and turn oven on to 'Broil' ~ make two wells for the eggs and crack the eggs into the sweet potatoes ~ sprinkle on the chopped turkey bacon ~ once the eggs begin to cook slightly transfer the skillet to the oven ~ cook for approximately 3 - 4 minutes or until the tops of the eggs begin to cook ~ (option - at this point if you would like to add cheese, remove the skillet, sprinkle with cheese and return to the broiler for 1 - 2 minutes) ~ remove, let cool, transfer to a plate and enjoy!

January 27, 2014


Here's a couple random pictures from the last month of so!
I redid my little coffee 'nook' at my house.  My parents sent me back with that wire basket filled with a bunch of stuff - I ended up re-purposing the basket for all my coffee 'supplies'.  They also gave me that awesome Virginia mug that you see next to the coffee creamer.
On my way home from Pennsylvania in mid-December (which is about a 4.5 hour drive) I was about an 1.5 hours outside of Albany and all the sudden traffic came to a complete stop along 88 East.  I was one of the first cars to stop (even before the emergency vehicles arrived) and soon found out that a truck carrying a cattle trailer had been in an accident (due to ice) and two cows were loose on the highways!  The picture below is of two stopped truckers trying to wrangle the cows and keep them from running toward our cars.  One even made a make-shift lasso!  Everyone in the accident was fine and eventually they contained the cows, but we sat for a good 45 minutes before we were moving again.

In December Adam and I attending one of our friends 'Fancy Pants' party in Troy.  The point of the party is essentially to get dressed up (fancy), go out to a nice dinner (Lo Porto) and then do a little bar hopping.  It was a fun night and we got a good picture to show for it!

The other night I took 'my man' on a date to Bonefish Grill!  Bonefish opened in Albany a couple months ago and I had been wanting to go there for a while.  We made a reservation, I got a little dressed up and off we went for a nice dinner out.  The food was awesome!  We got the Bang Bang Shrimp for an appetizer; for dinner Adam got the shrimp and scallops while I got the Tilapia Imperial with crab meat, shrimp and gruyere cheese on top.  With dinner I had an awesome glass of Kim Crawford wine (one of my favorites) and Adam had a glass of Sangria.  It was a great dinner and I would definitely recommend Bonefish Grill!
Annnnnd here's a cute picture of the (sleepy) cat!

January 23, 2014

Lighter Cheesy Baked Grits

Do you love grits?  I do!  But one thing I have learned is that Northeasterners do not 'get' grits.  It's sad.  They keep trying to make grits something it isn't.  Case in point these were the questions I got when I served cheesy grits and pulled pork the other night ... "are grits like polenta?" "is this dish some sort of corn bread?" "do you think it would taste good with maple syrup?"  Answers - no, no and ew no!  They're girts, and they're fabulous!
My parents sent me home from Virginia with two HUGE bags of local stone ground grits.  I've had to get creative because that is A LOT of grits.  I have made chicken and grits, grits for breakfast and even threatened to use grits in place of pasta or rice (however I have yet to do that).  So when I stumbled upon this recipe for lighter cheesy grits (and by a Virginia blogger no less) I knew I had to make them and soon!
It you like grits then you will absolutely LOVE this recipe and if you are unsure of whether or not you like grits, or if you have never really tried them before - you should make this recipe ASAP!  The great thing about this recipe is that it uses Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, skim milk instead of whole and reduced fat cheese instead of full - so you get all the creamy deliciousness without all the fat and calories.
 Lighter Cheesy Baked Grits
2 cups stone ground yellow grits (prepared according to directions)
2 TBS butter (separated)
1 - 1.5 cups reduced fat cheddar cheese (shredded)
6oz. plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
1.5 milk (skim or 1% - I used skim)
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
1 TBS Tabasco
Cook the grits as directed (adding 1 TBS of butter) ~ while they are cooking shred the cheese, beat the eggs and measure out the milk ~ once the grits are done cooking transfer to a large mixing bowl ~ mix in the cheese, then butter, yogurt, milk, Tabasco and eggs (be sure to add the eggs last so the mixture has had time to cool) ~ transfer to a greased 9 x 13 baking pan ~ bake at 350 degrees for one hour. 
Cheesy grits, pre-bake!
I completely forgot to take a picture afterwards but they were spot on!  And I personally thought they tasted even better the next day.

January 21, 2014

Fitness Progress Update

Oh what a difference a year makes!  As many of you know I have been on a constant journey to get fit, eat healthy and lose weight.  Often it feels like a constant battle which I sometimes feel like I'm losing, however the past 7 months have seemed to change everything!  I joined Albany F.I.T. Boot Camps and never looked back!  (Over the holidays I signed up for another 8 months of boot camp, giving me membership through November 1, 2014)  It's still a struggle sometimes, especially when it comes to eating (working out has never been an issue) but I feel as though I'm making significant progress toward a more happy and healthy me.
And here's the proof of progress ...
Bethlehem Turkey Troy 2012 vs. 2013
It wasn't until after my run when I was looking at the pictures that Adam had taken that I decided to compare last year's picture to this years.  I knew I had been doing well but I was honestly shocked by the change - I was so much bigger in 2012!  And even though I still have a long way to go I am happy with my current progress!

January 20, 2014

Christmas & Virginia

This Christmas was split between New York and Virginia.  I spent Christmas morning/day in New York & Massachusetts with Adam, Elise and Adam's family and then Christmas night we hit the road and headed toward Virginia.  We spent the night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and awoke to a ton of snow!  From Wilkes-Barre we drove to Berryville, Virginia - the town where I grew up - and met up with my best friend Dana and her fiance for lunch.  It was so much fun to show Adam where I grew up, the downtown and my old high school.  After lunch and hit the road again and made it to Lynchburg, Virginia a little before 5 PM!  Here are some scenes from our Christmas!
This is my living room prior to loading up my car with all the presents - it looks like Christmas exploded!  Between presents for Adam & Elise, Adam's family in Massachusetts and my family in Virginia - my trunk was packed!

The tree on Christmas morning!  I was so excited for Christmas that I got up early and did a bunch of things, only to have to wait for everyone else to get up to share in my excitement!

Our first present from Adam!  Elise and I wondered why he was giving us Christmas cards but this started the gift giving off with a BANG!  We are SO excited to see Book of Mormon in March!  We both screamed when we saw the tickets.

This Christmas present has turned into my latest obsession!  Polar watch and heart rate monitor!  I have used it nearly everyday since - it's awesome to be able to monitor your heart rate throughout your workouts and see how many calories you actually burn (hint - I bet it's not as many as you think!)

Kitty wanted to get in on the present-opening action!

Adam made the most amazing Christmas brunch!  First up was the strata - bread, smoked gouda cheese, spinach and egg - soaked overnight and baked together = deliciousness!

He also made homemade cinnamon buns (everything from scratch) - yummm!
While in Virginia my father wanted to make sure that we did something special.  I'm pretty sure he also wanted to make sure that my liberal northeastern boyfriend experienced some 'southern culture' while below the Mason Dixon line.  He decided to take us (me, Adam, my mom and my sister Mary Grace) to the Museum of the Confederacy and Appomattox Court House, which is about 30 minutes outside of Lynchburg.
Adam at the Museum of the Confederacy!  Doesn't he look thrilled?

Welcome to Appomattox County!

Learning about the confederacy!

After visiting the Museum of the Confederacy we headed down the road to Appomattox Court House where Lee surrender to Grant during the Civil War.  We took the tour and then walked around - it was such a beautiful day - about 55 degrees, sunny and blue sky - nothing like upstate NY weather, you couldn't have asked for a better day!

Lone grave (of a confederate solider) and tree on the Appomattox Historical site property.

The room (recreated) where Lee surrender to Grant!
After we toured the house and the slave quarters we had time to stop for a 'selfie'.

The last building we toured on the property was the jail - which was hands down my favorite.  As you can see from the picture above - we were jailed.
After a couple of days in Virginia we started to make our way to Washington D.C. to stay with Adam's cousin, it also was also a good (sort of) mid-way point that split up the trip nicely.  Before making it to D.C. though we stopped at a Trader Joe's in Charlottesville, VA.  You see - yes we have a Trader Joe's in Albany but due to the wine/liquor laws in New York it is not allowed to sell wine.  Now Trader Joe's wine is fabulous and cheap!  So I made it a point to make sure we stopped at the nearest Trader Joe's to my parents house and bring back a couple of cases!  We ended up buying 2 cases (plus a couple bottles of campaign for New Years) for only $100!
Stocking up on wine at Trader Joe's!
All in all Christmas was really good!  We had a great Christmas in New York and then it was awesome to be able to visit my family in Virginia!

January 19, 2014

A Sad Post

I'm back!  Over the last month and a half I look a slight hiatus from blogging; while I did miss it my lack of blogging was not without reason.  Warning!  This next part is going to be somewhat sad and emotional ...

My grandmother - Mary Jane Betts - passed away December 14, 2013.  She was 76 years old and while her death was not all together unexpected it was sudden.  She had been sick for some time (cancer) and while it contributed it was not what ultimately led to her passing.  When she was initially hospitalized we thought she had more time and that I would be able to make it down to Pennsylvania to say goodbye, that however was not the case.

The funeral and burial were held on my birthday and the viewing the day before.  I was able to take more than half a week off of work and spend the majority of that time in Pennsylvania with my family.  Overall it was a pretty crappy lead up to Christmas.

See my grandmother was a big fan of my blog, she more or less checked it everyday and was always the one to remind me to blog when I hadn't in a while.  We were pretty close, she said I always made her laugh.  So since her passing it has been sort of hard to get excited about blogging again - but I know she would want me to continue.  So I'm back!

Before she passed she bought me a birthday card and placed $27 (my age) in it.  I decided I would take it and buy a year round ornament that I thought best represented her.  After days of looking I found the perfect one!  It hung on  the tree throughout Christmas and it'll hang in my house the rest of the year.