Day 3 – Richmond, VA to Asheville, NC

I woke up in Richmond, VA bright and early with a packed day planned.  I ran a few miles to a local barre class at 7am.  It was a little barre studio in a cute neighborhood.  The weather was amazing at 6:30am!  It was starting to get too warm for me at 8:30am when I got back to the hotel to wake Brendan up!

IMG_0237 After breakfast, we headed to Starbucks and the Museum of the Confederacy.  The museum is next door to the former White House of the Confederacy. We walked through the museum, which had a nice collection of original uniforms, weapons, and personal items from the Civil War, and then we toured the White House.  We went on a guided tour of the White House, which was led by a wonderful older Southern man… who I could not understand!  Quite the accent.IMG_0238 Next we went to the Maymont Estate, which is a huge mansion and property from the early 1900s that was donated to Virginia.  It is now a public park with amazing gardens, including an herb garden, Italian garden, and Japanese garden.

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IMG_0242 IMG_0243 We also toured the mansion, which was really lovely.  We learned that the drawing room, the sitting room near the entrance to a Victorian-style home, comes from “withdrawing room”.  After dinner, the men would go talk about politics, drink and smoke.  It was not considered appropriate for women to take part in that, so they would withdraw into their own sitting room.

On our way out of Virginia, we stopped for lunch at a road-side BBQ stand that I found on Yelp with excellent reviews.  It was literally in a dirt parking lot in a small town. We now whole-heartedly recommend Saucy’s Walk-Up!  It was late for lunch, and there was a constant stream of locals pulling up for some BBQ.

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I think Brendan was in heaven when he read that one of the menu items was two pulled chicken sandwiches!

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I got pulled chicken with slaw!

IMG_0251 The next part of the trip was a drive through the mountains in North Carolina on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is part of the national park system.  The views were amazing!

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IMG_0259We ended the drive with some late night pizza in Asheville at Standard Pizza Company.  Asheville is a foodie, yogi, hippie town, so the food was AMAZING, and I can’t wait to eat as many meals as possible here.

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My first real addiction

I love running.  Sometimes I crave a good quick run in the rain, or a long run on a chilly fall day.  When I go too long without running, I go a little cray cray.  BUT… I wouldn’t say that I am addicted to running.  I could probably get the same thing from some other endurance sport, but I haven’t tried those… yet. 

Last year during the fall semester, some kid commented that he thought I was addicted to coffee because I always had my coffee in my hand when I got to class in the morning.  I laughed and told him that it was more likely that I was addicted to 1. having a cup in my hand because it makes me feel cool and reminds me of the Pacific NW, and 2. a good dose of sugar… because my cup was almost always full of hot chocolate… not coffee.  Too poor for daily lattes. 

When I started work a few weeks ago (it has already been 3 weeks!) I started going to Starbucks in the morning because it was the one little thing that I did for myself each day.  If you know my mom, you’ll understand why going to Starbucks reminds me of home and family.  It has become my comfort food of choice.  When I lived in Spain for a year it was my go-to cure for any homesickness.  Beyond the nostalgia, I enjoy my few minutes alone outside with my white and green cup every morning because it always, without fail, feels like an indulgence.  I hope that never goes away. 

So what’s the problem?  The problem is that I don’t like Starbucks hot chocolate and it has been way too hot for anything but iced coffee every morning here in Boston.  So, I’ve had coffee for the past 3 weeks.  One of them was even free because my Starbucks gold reward points kicked in!!  Yesterday I slept in… A LOT, but it was ok because Brendan did too.  After lunch with a friend, I came home and I was super productive studying for my next CPA exam took a super long nap.  I just figured it had been a long week, and I needed the rest.  But then the same thing happened today, except it didn’t feel good because it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing, and I knew I wasn’t actually tired.  Then I got horrible head and neck aches while I was running.  Then I got cranky and felt like I needed sugar… any sugar.  When I started explaining these symptoms out loud, I realized that I needed coffee.  I needed coffee for the first time in my life. 

I’m still not sure if I’m ok with this situation, but I sure did feel better after grabbing an iced coffee this afternoon! 

Onto dinner…

I had a major craving for chicken parmesan…

Cornmeal-crusted Chicken Parmesan

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast tenderloins (uncooked)
  • Cornmeal
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Dried basil or Italian seasonings
  • Grated parmesan
  • Egg whites
  • Canned or homemade marinara
  • Whole wheat spaghetti
  • Mozzarella

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a shallow bowl of egg whites and another shallow bowl with a mix of cornmeal, S&P, parmesan, and Italian seasonings.  Prepare the chicken by giving it a bath in the egg whites and then coating it in the cornmeal mix.  Set aside on a plate while you prepare all of the chicken.  Heat a pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook on each side for about 3 minutes.

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Remove each piece and place them in a casserole dish or brownie pan.  Cover with a coat of marinara sauce and mozzarella, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melty!  Serve over spaghetti with extra sauce!

YUMM… this was so good. 

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Best $10 I ever spent… on me!

Today was day 2 of Brendan’s trip to Las Vegas, leaving me in Berkeley with this anxiety provoking need-to-pack apartment.  Yesterday was not a super success.  I ate chips and guacamole for lunner (dinner and lunch) and then had a Frappuccino, and then oatmeal at 1am when I was starving.  Cool.  Besides my awesome food choices, I didn’t study nearly enough and I never went running like I had planned to all day.  Double cool.  But it was fine.  Needless to say, I implemented more of an agenda for today.  Kinda. 

My plan was to go running at like 7am because I love that feeling. LOL.  Don’t make stupid plans like that for a Sunday morning unless you have a friend meeting you.  Well, I made it out the door around 10:30.  Success.  My 8 mile run was less of a success because it sucked. in. every. way.  I walked, I was bored, I couldn’t get comfortable, I had a really hard time accepting that I was having a bad run.  But I was GREAT when I got back because I was so glad I went.  The WORST most dreadful runs ever (not including runs when you have the runs) are always better than no run.  Runs when you come back with dirty shorts are always regrettable.  Just saying. 

At least my run this morning was on the edge of the bay on a beautiful morning. 

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If you don’t think overcast skies are beautiful, keep that to yourself.  DSCN0345

If you don’t like paying between $4 and $7 to cross a bridge, feel free to rant about it below!

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I LOVE this trail.  I love this run.  I love the bay.  I am sorry I ever complained about this place!

After my run I went on a short drive to a Lucky Supermarket because they have Coinstar machines, and I had 3 full-ish piggy banks!! I say full-ish because Brendan’s wasn’t full.  LOL.  This is why I love corporate America: companies like the Gap, Amazon, and Starbucks want your business so bad they will pay your Coinstar fee of 9% (it was 7% last time I used it) if you choose to have your change turn into a gift card instead of cash.  Well, consumerism and I go together perfectly, because I prefer Starbucks cards to cash!!!  Yep! I walked out of there with $60 loaded onto my Starbucks card.  Best morning ever!

After my awesome lunch at a Mexican place I spent the rest of the day doing a lot of studying mixed with blog reading until I texted my mom: I’m SO bored.  She texted me back: Go see a movie.  So I just got up, grabbed a pack of emergency sour patch kids and went to the movies! 

I always think people are a little on the nutter side when they say they just love going to the movies alone.  I don’t even like going to the movies with people that much.  I would rather sit and talk with them in a well-lit room.  Well, that is the problem.  Going by yourself prevents you from sitting in a well-lit room talking to yourself, and it feels completely indulgent.  I’ll paint the picture for you: imagine me curled up in a nice leather movie theater seat with my carbonated diet lemonade soda in one hand and my sour patch kids in the other.  Now add the movie, Crazy Stupid Love, and there I am laughing ridiculously loud and crying uncontrollably (I like to get really into movies!) and soaking in every moment because it feels like the best thing I could have possibly done with $10 tonight. 

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TRY IT.  Tell me what you think.  See that movie.  It is SOOOO good.  I will even see it with you if you insist on going with friends.  I want to see it again right now.  AWESOME idea, mom!!  


Officially Summer!

I was just telling my mom and Braed the other day how it just doesn’t feel like summer until Starbucks launches their treat receipts… and yesterday… IT HAPPENED!  Happy SUMMER!!

I went into Starbucks today completely unaware, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was being handed my receipt even though I hadn’t asked for one.  The cashier began to point to the bottom of my receipt and I started to get butterflies.  “Yes!!! I was JUST saying how it really isn’t summer until I get my first treat receipt!” Well… the cashier is used to my weirdness, so he wasn’t TOO shocked, but I don’t think he was expecting that level of enthusiasm. 

Big question #1: Do you even know what I am talking about? 

If you don’t… your life is awful.  What is wrong with you?  There is only one good reason why you have never gotten a treat receipt and that is if you wake up at 1pm in the summer, so you have never made it to Starbucks before 2pm to get your treat.  You are forgiven.  If you go to Starbucks in the morning and you still don’t know what I’m talking about… you are really dumb.  If you have never been to Starbucks because you “don’t believe in Starbucks” then you are such a hipster that you probably hate my blog anyway, so nvm. 

For the rest of you… customers receive a “treat receipt” at Starbucks from July 18 to Sept 5, 2011when they visit and make a purchase before 2pm.  THEN… you can come back after 2pm for a $2 grande cold beverage.  It is not like the deal of the century, and nothing is free, but it makes me happy.  So SHUUUT up

Big question #2: Will I use my treat receipt today? 

Maybe, maybe not.  If I do, it will probably be instead of Yogurtland tonight because I had my first Starbucks beverage today around noon.  I almost fit into the forgiven category from above.  jeez.  I do have a brain, so I realize you save more money not going to Starbucks at all.  $2 is still $2.   

ANYWAY… HAPPY SUMMER, my Starbucks lovers!


My BFF

It has been so nice lately here in the East Bay.  I know it is probably a little too chilly in San Francisco and a little too hot in San Jose, so it is great to be sitting comfortably in the sun and breeze here in Berkeley! 

The nice weather FORCED me to abandon Starbucks in favor of a café with outdoor seating.  I went to PIQ, which is a pretty genuinely Italian spot close to my apartment because it has fabulous outdoor seating with tables that are half in the sun, half under umbrellas.  So divine…

Of course, I am SO not a loner, so I brought my BFF along with me for coffee. 

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Yep, I took Becker out to get a little sun, too.  This is my CPA exam prep book, for anyone unfamiliar with Becker.  Watching 2-hour long lectures and completing multiple choice problem homework for hours is so much more enjoyable in the sun…

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When you have one of these iced lattes.  Not quite as delish as my usual because… “Where  is my luscious caramel topping!?” 😦

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Starbucks NEEDS to get outdoor seating in Berkeley! 

Don’t worry… I wasn’t totally nerding out with my prep book.  I was also sporting the oh-so-wonderful…

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COMPRESSION SOCKS!  woot… why?

1) I am trying to maintain my running sock tan lines because Brendan loves them soooooo much.  So I couldn’t expose my legs with something like flip flops on.  hmmm… I guess I could have worn my running clothes…

2) I was feeling some shin splints coming on today on my walk home from yoga.  Tough stuff walking 3 blocks home… jk… It is probably from my 18 and 8 mile runs after being a turd for a while. 

3) So that I could take a picture in them and experience the reaction from the uber trendy SO-cal girls sitting behind me… “OMG wtf… Berkeley is so weird!”

LOLOL… yay fitting in in Berkeley.  Ok not quite there yet! 

Check back later for a post on where to get the BEST ice cream ever when you visit Berkeley.


Saturdays in Berkeley

One of the things I will really miss about Berkeley is how close our apartment is to the Saturday Farmer’s Market.  I have always loved produce and flower markets.  I love pictures of them, I love planning meals based on their selection and I love going to new ones everywhere I travel.  My favorites are the Seattle Pike Place Market, the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market and the many permanent fresh markets I visited while living abroad in Spain (Barcelona had some of my absolute favorites). 

I LOVE living in California because we always have big ripe berries before the grocery stores do, and before all of the food blogs go crazy with berry recipes.  It makes it feel like a little secret… the strawberries are here!! sshhhh…

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I got a little excited when the blueberries appeared this weekend!! DSCN0061

And the peach sampling stations… Brendan’s favorite!  He can never decide which peaches he should buy… so he has to make a very thoughtful face the whole time…

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So I reminded him: we never buy any peaches here.  They are WAY too expensive in Berkeley, and you have already tried that one twice!  I have proof on my camera!

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These bags of lettuce with edible flowers have been my favorite since we moved here four years ago.  I have tons of pictures of them on my phone because I need to remember to have gorgeous things like this in my life… and at my wedding! 

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Summer squash=gorgeous. 

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My exception to the “we don’t shop at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market” rule!

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The Berkeley hippies give me the stink eye when I walk through with my Starbucks cup, but I’ve gotten used to it now.  I still haven’t learned how to pose for a picture without doing something SUPER AWKWARD with my arm…

It was a beautiful day today in the bay!  I went for a 10 mile run around noon just so I could add to my Garmin tan line, sock tan line, and running shorts tan line.  They just make me feel so much more legit!  I did wear sunscreen on my face and a hat.  Red noses make me feel less legit for some reason. 

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I have my stuff set out for an early morning long run tomorrow.  I am meeting A. Jay for the first 8 miles at 8am.  Then I will be off to run 10 more!  This run will decide whether or not I recommit to the full or half for July 31st.  I want to be fully prepared….


Pretty LAME-O

I have been pretty MIA lately, but I am here to confirm that this has just been a test (to see which readers are so dedicated that they will still look at my blog) and will not be a recurring pattern.  My test confirmed for me that I have 1.5 dedicated readers: my mom and Maryanne.  Maryanne is not a subscriber, so she gets .5 points. 

Ok the real reason for the lack of posts is that I didn’t know what to write about, I was pretty busy at home, and my running feels pretty LAME-O.  Here is what’s up in my life  lately today. 

I am home again with Brendan, who I missed very much.  He missed the way I fill the fridge while he is at work me, also.  I go home to a completely empty fridge and a crippled boyfriend who apparently can’t walk to the grocery store when he runs out of food.  He sprained his ankle!! oh no!! I feel really bad for him. I would take a picture of his foot, but it looks like he pooped on it because the bruise is so dark and big, and I am afraid you won’t believe me if I tell you it’s a bruise.  Instead I took a picture of these…

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These are the fun Gerber Daisies he got me at the farmer’s market at Google yesterday.  We were celebrating 5 years and 2 months together.  Aren’t we LAME-O so cute!! I am pretty sure most people should stop celebrating the “month anniversaries” after a year or so.  But we are just so in love… lol…

In other news today… I am still in love with Starbucks!  Is that news?

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But for REAL!! Did you know that if you register your Starbucks card and then lose it somewhere in a purse or dark closet you can just transfer the funds to one of your other registered Starbucks cards!! Hello!? BEST DAY EVER… I feel like I just found Starbucks money on the street…. muah haha.  Look at that caramel drizzle doing its thing… IT’S SO CARAMEL-Y!!!

Finally, for your daily dose of running…  I went out to run 10 this morning… by morning I mean that I meant to wake up in the morning to beat the heat, but I walked out the door at 11:30.  Prime skin burning time on the bay! WOOT!  I’m too smart.  So, I ran 4 because I am really committed to my training plan.  Oh shoot.  I ran 4 and I think it was a good choice because I have a hard training weekend coming up this weekend and it would have been stupid for me to try to make up for not running 10 earlier this week.  My next post will be about wtf I am going to do about this training plan that I am officially not following!! grr. 

And… here is a picture of me for good measure.

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