Friday, August 31, 2012

Peach Pancakes

Happy Friday y'all! Yesterday was my last day of working full-time at the hospital until probably Christmas. Some might think, "O wow, what a vacation." It's really not though. I'm trading in 8 hour shifts for 19 hour shifts (this is my last didactic year, this is my last didactic year - I've got to keep telling myself this). With that being said, I decided sleeping in and a luxury breakfast were long over due. 

I'm really not a sweet breakfast kinda gal - savory is usually my route, but this morning I had a hankering for peach pancakes. My mom has been carb loading the evening before her long runs, so she's had Bisquick Complete on hand - a whole grain version of Bisquick, minus all the hydrogenation (and yes, she carb loads with banana pancakes haha). I used the Bisquick, a fresh peach, and some pure maple syrup to make these babies.

What kind of breakfasts do you prefer - savory or sweet?

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Everybody's Got Some Country In Them

Doesn't flyin' down an old back road give ya, a sweet taste of freedom?
And that worn out favorite pair of blue jeans - yea ya' just gotta love 'em.
And you can never resist that sweet tea and fishin' til the sun goes down,
Everybody's got some country in them.

And you can't tell me that you don't like a campfire, every now and then.
Riding in the back of an old Ford - hair blowin' in the wind.
It doesn't matter where you're from, who you are, or where ya been,
Everybody's got some country in them.

Some Country - Emma Lynn White

I get that country music isn't for everyone, but this song pretty much nails it. Never heard of Emma Lynn White? Me either - until recently. She's actually from Gum Spring, VA and is studying music at a school in Nashville, TN - pretty much living the dream right? Here's her Facebook, iTunes, some of her music vids, and an old blog of hers. (Her song Nashville is such a fun song and her song Train even incorporates her lil bro's banjo talents! Talented family much?) Totally supporting locals when I can :) 

Where am I going with this? I bought her song sampler Friday night, packed my bag for Charlottesville/Staunton, and read a little of Gone Girl before heading to bed. Saturday I woke up to . . . rain. Boo! I made the best of it though. I arrived in Charlottesville to learn that my girlfriend lost her wallet at Sweet Frog the evening before. We re-traced her steps without much luck, so we headed to Staunton - The Queen City of the Shenandoah, for a breather. 

Pretty much any outlying area within 25-35 miles of Charlottesville is going to be small. Really small y'all - so be prepared. Growing up, my youth group at church used to go to Ingleside Resort for weekend conference trips. We would snow tube, commute to Wintergreen/Massanutten for skiing and snowboarding, and then partake in awesome music and festivities in the evenings.

Why is The Queen City so cool? Well, Woodrow Wilson was born here, it's home to Mary Baldwin College, and has tons of Shakespearean roots - like this theater and this cottage.

I had a few things in mind that I was looking for, so we parked and walked around. This was the only time during our day that we wouldn't experience complete and total downpours. 

At one point, I mentioned to Amanda that Beverly Street (the main street in downtown Staunton) reminded me of High Street in Morgantown - she totally agreed. I love small town feel. I really do. There's still a small part of me that clings to places like Richmond and Philly though - I think its the artistic/urban nature of things. Places like this are artistic in their own special way.

Here's the store I was in search of - Worthington Hardware (here's a documentary that a UVA student made about the store/family - very worth it to watch - it will warm you head to toe). Hands down, it was the coolest store. This older gentleman owns it, and his daughter makes certain that there's no haggling haha. They had tons of old Nabisco cracker boxes, GE fans, vintage soda bottles, worn Remington casing boxes, and more than you could ever imagine. I wanted all of it - my purse nor my car were big enough.

These were what I came for - project post coming soon! P.S. Who knew old plates could be so pricey? The owner's daughter explained that folks will restore old vehicles and they come looking for plates, authentic to the time of the vehicle - makes sense now - totally unbeknownst to me.

Then we went in Queen City Marketplace where I found this. When I say I would loved to have had this riding home in the backseat - I mean I realllllly would have loved for this to have been in my back seat. Maybe no one will ever want it?! HA!

Upstairs I found this ancient Maytag Washing Machine. How lucky are we nowadays?

Since starting pharmacy school, I have accumulated quite the collection of old pharmacy-like goods. Last fall, when driving through Delaware, my roommate and I stopped at this very unique antique store where I purchased an old Rheumatic Fever Remedy bottle for just $10! Things have kinda taken off from there. Also in my collection are quite a few old-school mortar and pestles. At this point, I'm totally running with it. In Queen City Marketplace, I found this gem - an old kit used to remove snake venom for just $9.50! (Not sure if this has been used or not - I'm gonna go with no because the Iodine and Ammonia were still in tact.)

I also found this old Ex-Lax tin for $4. {Fist pump} Two points for Susan!

 We browsed a few more stores on Beverley Street. One store had this neat creation for sale.

When's the last time you've seen a movie theater window look like this?

We made it to the end of the strip of shops when I told Amanda, "There are literally no cars driving down this road. That's when you know you're in small-town USA." She was like, "Stand in the middle and snap that baby up." So you know I couldn't pass that up. While standing there, Emma's song flashed back through my mind. My girlfriend is from WV and she knows all about small towns, but thrifting isn't really her thing. She tagged along though and totally embraced my quirks. Maybe you are from a small town, or perhaps you're from a big city - either way, anyone can identify those precious moments, the simple ones, the country ones, and allow them to totally bless you.

Just over that hill is Mary Baldwin College.

Before heading back to Charlottesville, we decided lunch was in order. We decided on Shenandoah Pizza. Three words - Promise You'll Eat. Seriously. Promise me! Hands down the best pizza I've ever had. We ate, then headed back to Charlottesville to address the wallet sitch. Then, in normal fashion, we hit Anthro and Target. Found this signage near the travel books in Anthro. Absolutely love it! Gonna have to recreate a version for myself. (Post coming about "Things I'm Loving.")

O! On Friday I mentioned I'd get to see a cute little boy named Ryder - well he is cute and he is a boy! He's a nine week old Black Lab. Hims the sweetest yittle man. He's a squirmer - excuse the blurry puppy love.

That evening, Amanda and I hit the downtown mall in Charlottesville. We walked waded into Urban Outfitters because the rain was absolutely relentless. Then we made our way to Citizen Burger Bar for some local meaty goodness. There's just something about local meat, local buns, local shrooms (you get the idea) that just feels - right. Local is seriously a good thing.

At this point, it's no secret that Charlottesville/Staunton rank high on my list of favorite places/things to do. On Sunday, as I made the drive back, I used that time to think and reminisce. It used to be that Amanda would make trips to visit me in Richmond during the summer, and we would make day trips to Charlottesville for shopping/vineyard love. Now, it's the opposite - and I don't hate it one bit. As I was thinking, my eyes couldn't help but wander to the rearview mirror, taking in the beautiful mountains and fog. It hurts my heart a little bit every time I leave, but ya know what they say though . . . once a Mountaineer, always a mountaineer. 

What's your "some country"? Is it campfires, driving down backroads, slamming screen doors, wide front porches, or maybe it's something else?


Friday, August 24, 2012

Sunsets, Craft Beer, Food Trucks, and Cupcakes

Happy Friday! I would just like to say, hasn't the weather been absolutely perfect in Virginia this week?! I mean really - August is never like this in Virginia. I'm gonna soak up every ounce of it though. This week has gone by far too fast for me. Next Thursday is my last day at work and I'll be making the small move back to the beach for school during Labor Day weekend - can you say horrific traffic? It's ok though - I can usually bypass it fairly well. 

On Wednesday afternoon/evening I found myself in a mood funk. I was just downright . . . down. Leaving work I realized that the weather was perfect for sitting on a patio somewhere. I had to turn my frown upside down, so I texted my girlfriend Brittany (my sushi date girlfriend) and asked her if she was down for dinner somewhere. We threw around the idea of Bonefish Grill, but settled on The Boathouse at Sunday Park (many of our friends have actually gotten married here and they used to have a pretty spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show). The best part? The Boathouse at Sunday Park is a mere 12 minutes from me and has some gorgeous sunsets - win!

I arrived at Sunday Park and took the scenic stroll past Daniel Butler's gardens (I had my senior pictures taken here) before putting our names in for a table. There's something about Black-Eyed Susans that I'll never be able to pass up.

I rounded the bend and this view was waiting for me - instant mood funk sucked away.

Brit had a glass of Beringer Moscato with Carolina Jumbo Shrimp and a bowl of Eastern Shore Crab and Vegetable Soup. I had their Steamed Pei Mussels and a Baby Iceberg Wedge Salad. I also ordered a bottle of the Jefferson Vineyards Pinot Gris (they do sell it at Whole Foods here in Richmond), had a glass or two, and re-corked for the ride home. It's my favorite wine and it's half off on Wednesdays! Mood funk still being sucked away.

We were dining and chatting when something pranced over and landed near us. This little praying mantis decided to chill at our table with us for a little while. It looks like he's actually praying, or maybe he's thanking Him for this beautiful view. Either way, my mood funk had officially vanished at this point.

Yesterday was a pretty chill day at work and it was beyond needed. O! Did you know that . . .
Borrowed from Star Hill Brewery's page

Yep. August is Virginia Craft Beer Month. So what's a girl to do? How about Food Truck Court at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery? Why yes, I think I will.

Last night, my girlfriend Kelly and I ventured over to Hardywood after work to check out the food trucks, some brews, and to enjoy another beautiful evening in Richmond of course! If you don't know anything about food trucks, I'm certain this show might give you an idea. Some of the food trucks that participate in Food Truck Court actually set up camp around the hospital downtown. They sell their delicious goodies to hospital, city hall, and capitol employees, as well as regular 'ol city patrons. Their food is delicious and pretty inexpensive. Can you say score?

Here's a peek at our evening.

Thai Cabin, Chupacabra, and Mister Softee Soft Serve.

Boka Tako.

Kelly got Lettuce Wraps from Thai Cabin.

I got "The Gauntlet" from Boka Tako. It was awesome. Left = Asian, Right = American, Top = Mexican (I think).

 We ventured inside for some brews.

1. Singel   2. SB 604   3. DIPA   4. Bourbon DIPA 
The Singel and the Bourbon DIPA were my favorites. I had really wanted to try the Virginia Blackberry, but they were out. 

Found some of this clever signage while waiting for the restroom. Beer Master. "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

Suggested Receptacles for the Drinking of Beer.

Can't wait to try their Mocha Belgique (and their Farmhouse Pumpkin and Gingerbread Stout)!

Sitting at the picnic table enjoying beers, weather, and company - Flynn's has Sweetater Fries!

The evening was a blast! Such a family friendly event. If brews aren't your thing, Food Truck Court also visits the Virginia Historical Society on weeknights.

To round out the evening and to compliment my Bourbon DIPA, I had to have this guy. A Cinnamon Pumpkin Spice Cupcake (Fall, in your mouth) from RVA Vegan.

Some other food carts in attendance last night: Station 2, Pizza Tonight, Rooster Cart, and Sustenance. Maybe if craft brews are your thing, you could also check out Star Hill Brewery, Blue Mountain Brewery, or Beach Brewing Company - all in the beautiful state of Virginia!

Have a wonderful weekend! I'm headed to Charlotesville/Staunton to hang with my girlfriend, her man, and a presh yittle boy named Ryder!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

OSJ - Part Tres

Convinced to go to Puerto Rico yet? If not, this final post will surely seal the deal for ya. In case you missed any parts of this fab trip, here's part uno and part dos.

So I left off with that hill that we had to brave, just to inch a little closer to the fort. We made our way up that treacherous hill . . . only to find more hills. It was worth it though - at least that's what I kept telling myself as sweat dripped poured off of me (gross, sorry not sorry).

We walked right into Plaza de Colon - a bustling area with many restaurants, bars, shops, etc.

Truckin' on, we passed this. I think it may have been a casino at some point. Then again, I could be totally wrong. Just beyond that is actually an Olympic training facility of sorts.

Reaching this, we had tough decisions to make - a shorter distance up those hills I mentioned, or right, with no hills but a farther distance? We chose left. We're gluttons for punishment.

I went to school in West Virginia so hills are no stranger to me. This does NOT mean they're near and dear to my heart. There's some incline action for ya below. The whole time I was channeling all of the gorgeous people in Puerto Rico as I made the hike, hoping I'd look like them once I made it to the top. I didn't. Hopes and dreams crushed - whatevs.

The view from the top!

Finally! Castillo San Cristobal.

We went up to the top of the fort, but didn't do the tour - I had wanted to and will definitely do so when I go back. Next, we moved on to the next portion of the fort seen here.

Alex was totally taking in all the surroundings. The coolest (temperature wise) we had felt all day was probably right here.

This little town of sorts looked fairly interesting, at least to Al and myself.

Another potential home sale - you know, for after I graduate? Yea right.

Moving on, we saw this beautiful basketball court. What a view, right?

It was apparently dedicated by Carmelo Anthony.

Walking past the basketball court, we saw that little town again. We made it to a set of steps that seemed to lead down to the town. The steps were being guarded by the hottest female police officer ever. Seriously. She was hawt. Everyone is gorgeous there. I'm telling you. 

It was almost as though there was an unspoken vibe between Al and I that we both wanted to venture down there. It was being guarded though? Red flags much? So we asked her, "Could we go down there?" She seemed puzzled, like why would we want to go down there? She said it was cool though. So Al and I started making our way down. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some unspoken tension between us - like this was something we probably shouldn't be doing. Al and I are adventurous gals though, so we did it. Together. We're the type that likes to see it all on vacay, returning home exhausted and enriched. 

First thing we saw. Not too sketchy.

A taekwondo house. Still okay.

Then this.

And these. Dirty hens are a sure-fire sign of ick. Crazy, squawking, dirty chickens = ick and unnerving. We kept walking a bit, and stumbled upon an extremely sketchy man. We both decided to high-tail it back up the steps. We rounded the corner and three men dressed entirely in black were facing us. Thoughts crossed my mind like, "It's possible that I may not make it out of Puerto Rico." (After discussing the day's events with Al, she agreed the same thoughts crossed her mind.)

Turns out they were police officers. Beautiful, strapping police officers. They introduced themselves, one in English and the others in Spanish. They were extremely friendly and offered to walk with us and give us the down-right dirty tour of La Perla. (Totally didn't google La Perla until that evening, finding out then that it's the ghetto of San Juan, literally. The bartender at our hotel asked us if we were crazy. Maybe we were.)

The police officers are extremely respected in Puerto Rico. Thank goodness for that female officer at the top of the steps - she probably tipped off the male officers to come find us, and without her we probably wouldn't have gotten a VIP tour with some beautiful men for two hours! First, they took us down to the shore line to show us La Perla in it's entirety. 

It was at this point that I was so thankful for those officers. I felt safe. SO safe and fortunate for this opportunity and view.

Al totally geeking out with excitement.

They explained to us that this area is ablaze with people on Friday and Saturday nights. There were all kinds of Bible verses grafittied on the walls in spray paint. Such a neat area.

How'd ya like to skateboard here . . . with this view?

Making our way through the town, the officers showed us the dirty and not-so-diry areas. La Perla is essentially where the extremely impoverished locals live. And yes, people actually still live in this area despite its desolate and abandoned appearance. Through it all, you could tell that the officers had a huge sense of pride. They had been born and bred in San Juan and love it. Love it wholeheartedly. 

This view is brought to you by the third story of a home. The officers helped us onto the roof of this home where I got the best view in the city. 

Check out these steps.

The roof where we stood.

And looking down from it.

We finally made it near the end of La Perla - the view from the opposite end.

We also saw some brave surfers - the wind was crazy at this point.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

We walked through the underground tunnel to find this.

We parted ways with our officers and thanked them from the bottom of our hearts for their time. We stumbled upon 'ol Abe. The school in OSJ is apparently named Escuela Abraham Lincoln - interesting?

At this point, it was around 3:30 in the afternoon and we were tired exhausted. We purchased the most expensive lemonade, chugged it, and ventured back to Plaza Colon for lunch. After stuffing our faces with delicious food, we made our way back to the bus station. We were sad to leave OSJ, but were so grateful for a beautiful day. Pigeons, sweat, officers and all.

Fun trip, no? I'm so going back.