Being a local

I nearly called this post “Big OH Weekend”, indicating that I spent a weekend full of Ohio fun.  Then I thought that seemed dirty, and quite frankly, misleading.  So, I renamed.  Carry on…

Friday was happy hour at a relatively new place, Cray Eatery & Drinkery.  In the interest of full disclosure, that was the second time I was there last week.  Fair to say I was a fan.  They make these infused whiskeys and vodkas.  They are delicious, and dangerous.  The vanilla bean whiskey is quickly becoming my favorite beverage in town.  I was home relatively early and after three pretty exhausting weeks, I crashed early and didn’t wake up until about 10:30am the next morning.

Saturday afternoon I went on a tour of the Ohio State House and Court House.  One of my new favorite friends in Columbus is a volunteer tour guide there and I wanted to take the opportunity to visit her AND get a Columbus history lesson.  I learned a lot about the building and how Columbus was founded.  It was a well spent hour.  Our capitol building is fine, but our court house is really gorgeous.  Some of the most beautiful lighting fixtures, and back in the day it was the first fully electric building in Ohio.  People came from hundreds of miles to see the lightbulb in action.

From the outside, the capitol building doesn't have a Rotunda, exactly.  It has a cylinder.  From the inside, though, there is a rotunda.  And it's pretty.

From the outside, the capitol building doesn’t have a Rotunda, exactly. It has a cylinder. From the inside, though, there is a rotunda. And it’s pretty.

One of the great light fixtures from the building.

One of the great light fixtures from the building.

My favorite light fixture.  The hall these were in was magnificent and these light posts were perfect.

My favorite light fixture. The hall these were in was magnificent and these light posts were perfect.

I ran a few errands after that, including a visit to a couple consignment stores looking for some holiday decorations.  I didn’t find anything.  I took some colleagues up on an offer to join them at a sports bar for the OSU game.  It was a rowdy group and a great game.  OSU wins!  Go Bucks!

Sunday I headed up to a local state park to go for a hike/walk.  I participated in a trail run at High Banks park last fall and it was the first place that popped into my head when I decided I needed a good long walk.  I want to be serious about this mindfulness business and I find myself better suited to clear my head outside than inside.  I didn’t bring my ipod, no music – just a walk out in the fresh air.

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I took the Overlook Trail (light purple) and added the Wetland Spur for another .8 mile (dark purple).  It was a great morning, nice walk, and great for being present and in the moment.  Next time I’ll do Dripping Rock Trail.

I took the road less traveled by...

I took the road less traveled by…

I went from the hike to the grocery store.  I’m hosting my consultant friends for a Thanksgiving dinner party this Tuesday.  I spent this morning building the menu and making the monster grocery list that goes along with that.  On my trip to Des Moines, IA last week I bought three food magazines and wanted to try all new to me Thanksgiving recipes.  I warned the team they were a guinea pig group.  They have no problem with this.  I wanted to do as much prep as possible tonight and tomorrow night so I can make Thanksgiving happen after work.  I took a few shortcuts, but not that many.  Here’s the menu:

Herb Roasted Turkey Breasts courtesy of Rachel Ray

This is one of the shortcuts I’ll be taking – not doing a full turkey, but doing boneless (but skin on) turkey breasts.  They’ll cook faster.  I bought a few turkey legs to roast as well.  I’ll prep them tomorrow night and have them ready to pop in the oven.

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Kale Pesto courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens magazine

I made these tonight.  I didn’t combine them yet.  The potatoes are out of this world.  I don’t usually peel my potatoes for mashed potatoes.  But since I was trying new to me recipes, I followed instructions.  I had a test bite (or four).  These potatoes are amazing.  They’re chilling in the fridge and I’ll just warm them up.  I did halve this recipe.

Pesto prep!

Pesto prep!

Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Cherries and Chestnuts courtesy of Rachel Ray Magazine

Stepping way outside my comfort zone with this recipe.  I don’t typically use cornbread in my stuffing.  Or sausage, for that matter.  In my life I’ve never had a chestnut.  I made this tonight and it’s all ready, just needs to be baked.  My test bites lead me to believe it is also going to be awesome.  My shortcut was buying ready made cornbread stuffing mix.  I did not have it in me to bake cornbread, cut it up, dry it out, toast it up… Just no.  I mean, I like this group and all, but no.

Stuffing prep!

Stuffing prep!

Stirring in the dried cherries and lots of fresh herbs.

Stirring in the dried cherries and lots of fresh herbs.

Brown Butter Haricots Vert courtesy of Food Network Magazine

I will do anything to avoid the dreaded green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.  I’ll trim these up tomorrow, but do most of the work for these Tuesday.

Pear-Gingersnap Cheesecake courtesy of Food Network Magazine

I’m breaking the pumpkin mold!  There are so many delicious pumpkin recipes, and I was tempted to do a pumpkin cheesecake, but I’ve done one of those before.  Another ingredient I’ve never bought before is molasses.  Aaaaaand… I’m not sure I’d ever need to again.  Molasses has a very distinct taste, and I don’t know that I love it.  I mean, I think this cheesecake is going to be fine, but I have supplemental dessert planned as well – a S’mores bar.  I’ll post more about that Tuesday night.  Spoiler Alert… it does mean crossing something off The List!  

Cheesecake prep!

Cheesecake prep!

Bosc pears are so pretty.

Bosc pears are so pretty.

Pre-baked cheesecake.  My pear placement wasn't perfect.  A few fell off my fork before I was ready for them to be placed.

Pre-baked cheesecake. My pear placement wasn’t perfect. A few fell off my fork before I was ready for them to be placed.

Post baked.  I'll drizzle on a bit more of the molasses syrup right before serving.  Then it will look more like the picture.  I like when my food looks like the picture.

Post baked. I’ll drizzle on a bit more of the molasses syrup right before serving. Then it will look more like the picture. I like when my food looks like the picture.

My reward for knocking out all that prep work tonight was lighting another fire!  Mmmm, Sunday night fires are totally going to become a thing.  I should look into chopping down the mostly dead tree in my backyard so I get my own firewood supply.  Continuing to buy it is going to get pricey.  I’m not the only fan of the fire:

Quinn looks forward to them more than me.

Quinn looks forward to them more than me.

It was wonderful to spend a weekend here.  I have a less busy week coming up and I’m happy about that too.  The temperature is supposed to drop, so I see more fires in my future!  Mmm, so quickly becoming the best part of my house.

A: Ladies 80’s night & Bachelorette Parties

Q: Where to not take pictures so there is no proof later?

I’m on a roll, friends.  A Birthday Month, no holds barred, maybe more events than I can handle roll.

This group of 6 consultants that I hang out with occasionally (and have over for dinner and Wii dancing) found out about “Ladies 80’s” night at a local bar.  It is exactly what it sounds like – a ladies night with all 80’s music for dancing the night away.  They invited the whole program team, and since I enjoy the group and have a tiny, little, innocent crush on one of them, I was sure to go.  I invited my favorite co-worker, three or four other project team members showed up and we had an absolute blast last Thursday night.  I drank a tad too much vodka (read: much too much. Luckily, the worst thing I did that night is lose my glasses.  I’m sure I was a dance floor maniac, but no one seems to care.  We had a super fun time.

So much fun that I missed my flight the next morning… I was headed to Florida for a bachelorette weekend.  I had a 7:10am flight.  I got home at 3am from Ladies 80’s night.  One could probably see this coming.  I had two alarms set for that morning, was all packed…to no avail.  I bolted up in bed at 7am, looked at the clock, texted the bride telling her I’d be on a later flight due to “flight issues” (I told her the truth once I was there in person) and called the airline to see what my options were.  Luckily, Southwest Airlines rules all and as long as I got to the airport within 2 hours of my original departure time they would put me on standby flights to get there.  I missed the beautiful non-stop from Columbus to Orlando, so I don’t land in Florida until 2pm.  But, the only thing I missed out on was going to the new Harry Potter World which will be there next time.  And, it might have been worth it to party the night before with the gang.

We had a big beach house in New Smyrna, FL for the weekend and had a really nice weekend.  Again, I have no pictures of this.  10 girls, so many bottles of liquor, wine and beer, dance parties, laying on the beach, Cards Against Humanity, dancing at a townie bar and ice cream sundaes.  There is the weekend in a nutshell.  I got home late Sunday evening and charged into the week ahead.  I had a happy hour with a woman I’m becoming friendly with Monday night.  She and her husband are some of my new favorite Columbus-ites and it was nice to hang out with her for a while.  It was beautiful Monday night here so I went for a walk in the Short North neighborhood after that.  (Amazing how functional I am after an actual happy “hour” with one drink.)

This afternoon I got home a little early (I start early on Tuesday mornings because of my calls with India.  Yup – I’m international.)  I went for a run and then whipped up a new Sweet Potato recipe for a Pinterest Party!  I have gotten into Meetup.com lately and joined a home cooks/bakers group.  Tonight was my first event with them and the theme was to bring a dish that you’ve had pinned but have never made.  It was such a good idea!  I thought I’d take the opportunity to test out a potential Thanksgiving Side dish recipe – Mashed sweet potatoes with kale and boursin cheese.

Photo from A Family Feast blog

Photo from A Family Feast blog

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I was happy to see so many savory dishes – including an awesome roasted zucchini pasta salad, cuban sliders and a watermelon mint salad. Dessert highlight was the creme brulee cheesecake!

This is the best potluck in town!

There were about 18 people and everyone was super nice.  It was a really nice evening.

Non stop fun continues this week with an alumni event on Thursday, the Craft Beer Festival on Friday night, my friend Kristy coming to visit Saturday for this vintage flea market and an early birthday dinner, and a Soup Cooking Class/demo on Sunday!

content Sarah and the finished wall!

content Sarah and the finished wall!

Cat and door in the picture for size context.

Cat and door in the picture for size context.

Anniversaries and stuff

August 13th would have been my nine year wedding anniversary, if I were still married.  Instead it was my 4th not-anniversary.  Which is okay, too.   I know not everyone gets the “my ex husband is my best friend” thing, but it’s one of the things I’m most proud of and protective of.   It takes a strong and honest friendship to text your ex “happy not our anniversary” and know that the other person will be happy to hear from you.   Ex hubs and I chatted briefly about that recently and he put it far more poetic and succinct than I ever have.   “Sometimes you should marry your best friend, but sometimes you shouldn’t.”  So, happy not our anniversary to you ex Hubs and dear friend. 

One year ago I graduated grad school.  I miss school.  I miss learning and the academic environment and the group of people I would have never met otherwise and feeling smart and earning it.   It’s amazing what’s happened to me in the year since.  I’m so grateful for what that degree and experience brought my way.   Earlier this week I had a phone call with Mr. Head of the Leading Change Mgmt Research Company and he told me a joke and we talked about OD vs. CM. This afternoon I got pulled in by my program manager to help with another huge layer of change.   I bought a house, became a full time associate, made new friends, and just all around figured it out.  

3 years ago I got this cat…
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The orange one there. Tonight he, Quinn and I are just hanging out on the patio.
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It is an amazingly gorgeous night here. Cool and no humidity and perfect for grilling. It’s the only way I’m going to cook around here.
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Slicing buns is about all I was willing to do in my still pristine, new kitchen.
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Luckily I have a grill.
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A grill with a side burner. All cooking can be done out here.
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I made some burgers with Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. They were really good and perfect for patio dining.

In the spirit of selfie stories :
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I bought a new shirt today while at the food truck festival during lunch. I’m a happy Ohio-an. And that feels great.

The jig is up. Zucchini bread is just cake.

Zucchini has taken over the garden.  Now, this is probably my fault for ignoring all spacing guidelines.  Okay, it’s definitely my fault for ignoring all the spacing guidelines.  The poor green bean plants couldn’t compete for space or sunlight and they are a thing of the past.  The tomatoes are doing well and the zucchini is flourishing.

So. Much. Zucchini.

So. Much. Zucchini.

I gave a few away.  And what else does one do with So. Much. Zucchini except make some zucchini bread?

I found three different recipes and got to work.

Yogurt Zucchini Bread

A classic recipe

A classic recipe

Easy Zucchini Bread with chocolate chips

I never got a picture of this one.  It came out a little dark on the edges and I overfilled the pans a bit so it’s not as pretty.  The flavor is okay with some mini chocolate chips in the bread and a few sprinkled on top.

Caramel Frosted Zucchini Bread

Just cake.  Seriously.  Two cups of shredded zucchini in this bread and you wouldn’t even know it. Zucchini just melts away when it’s baked. I like that this one had raisins and walnuts in it.  Adding a caramel frosting certainly doesn’t up any nutrition factor.  This one came out too sweet for me, but it did photograph the best.

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I now have a crap ton of zucchini bread.  And while they taste good, I don’t think I love zucchini bread.  So… I’ll freeze some and bring some to work and give some to the neighbors.  And figure out something else to do with the rest of the zucchini from the garden that won’t quit.

 

In other kitchen news, my friend Kristy did indeed come over and the kitchen lights did indeed get up!  Now… Kristy’s husband ended up joining her on her trip here so my dreams of girl power electric work didn’t happen.  We pretty much just let Jon take care of them.

Okay, so Jon and Kristy did most of the work while I ran up and down the steps to flip the circuit breaker occasionally.

Okay, so Jon and Kristy did most of the work while I ran up and down the steps to flip the circuit breaker occasionally.

Love them!

Love them!

The lights needed to be a flush mount since I don’t have very tall ceilings.  And since I’m trying to embrace some of the vintage charm of the house, I like the milk glass look of these.  I went to a vintage/flea market thing this morning and managed to only walk away with a milk glass bud vase to put on the counter.

Ode to the sister who just had a baby

I intended this to be a post about my attempt to grill pizza.  It’s going to be about a little more than that.

Before I got to dinner, my sister – the one who recently had a baby girl – and I spent some time on Facetime.  Her husband was out helping his dad so Em had my baby niece Avery on her lap the whole time.  I got to make faces at her and watch her giggle and wiggle and even squeak a few times.  Em and I chatted about alllll the upcoming family wedding and baptisms and baby showers and I got to see her be a mom for a little bit.  She mentioned a few events she had to pass on because of aforementioned baby niece.  As we were getting ready to go – her to put Avery to bed and me to make dinner and drink wine – we talked about what we were having for dinner.  She said she was probably having scrambled eggs because she needed to get grocery shopping.

Now, I love scrambled eggs.  Love ‘em.  But as I started to prepare for the pizza grilling adventure, I felt a slight twinge of wishing I could be there to have Em over for dinner also.  I know she occasionally reads this blog (Hey sistah!) and I felt bad that I’d be posting about all the leisure time I have to make pizza and drink wine on the patio.  I thought maybe I should keep the pictures to myself.

Except…the grass is always greener.

To my dear sister, I think you’re amazing!  You have this marriage that you have worked at making work.  You and Al play sports together and have couple friends and you know his email password and you have that photo frame full of the wedding photo booth photo strips.  Every time I pass it I think about how many times I’ve started some kind of photo tradition with an ex and how they don’t matter anymore…  Now you have this crazy adorable baby girl who you get to teach things to (hopefully a second language – I just really want some toddler in our family to be able to speak a couple languages) and you get to experience this thing that I never will.  I know I never wanted to have kids, and I’m okay with my choice, but it does close the door to a whole world of experiences and emotions.

So, tonight, while you dealt with your giggling, yet fuss face of a daughter, I made pizza on the grill.  I promise you, your night was more fulfilling.  Doing whatever you want when you want can be very dull.  If there is no one there to eat the pizza, did it even exist?  (Well, it did, because I took pictures…)  I’m so ready to have my person, to build a life, to be helpful and supportive to someone else.  But tonight, the fact that I figured out how to grill pizza is all I’ve got.

So, let’s talk about that.

Start with a really hot grill.

Start with a really hot grill.

I prepped a plate full of potential pizza toppings.  Prosciutto, mozzarella, peso, tomato sauce, basil, goat cheese and Sarah's Farm Fresh tomatoes.

I prepped a plate full of potential pizza toppings. Prosciutto, mozzarella, pesto, tomato sauce, basil, goat cheese and Sarah’s Farm Fresh tomatoes.

I had a hunk of Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough.  I wanted to test the process before I loaded up a pizza with all the delicious ingredients.  I made a mini margherita pizza.  The dough puffed up more than I expected, but other than that it worked great.  The dough didn’t stick to the grates at all.

Baby test pizza

Baby test pizza

The process was to take a section of dough and work it until it was fairly thin.  I sprayed one side of it with some olive oil spray and then tossed it right on the grates.  I closed the grill lid for about 2 minutes and then flipped the dough over.  I then topped the dough with the chosen ingredients and closed the lid for another minute.  I moved the pizzas to the top rack of the grill while I cooked the next one so the cheese kept melting, but the crust didn’t burn.  They cook pretty quickly.  And they all tasted pretty delicious.

The pesto, prosciutto & goat cheese

The pesto, prosciutto & goat cheese

The margherita deluxe

The margherita deluxe

The everything.  Pesto, marinara, prosciutto, mozzarella and goat cheese

The everything. Pesto, marinara, prosciutto, mozzarella and goat cheese

The empty wine glass.

The empty wine glass. 

 

 

Whole 30, Day 15 – good food tastes good

It’s oddly easy this time around.

Sure, I miss the wine and ice cream, but I’m not lusting after them.

According to the Whole30 timeline, I’m in the wacky dreaming yet feeling good phase.  Almost.  Last time I did this I remember that I slept sooo much better, which isn’t too hard, because I’m generally a terrible sleeper.  This time I’m fighting against myself and sleep.  I’ve gotten into bad habits with tv watching at night and it is really counter productive.  I also think I need I need to kick this cat out of my room at night again…

Oh Oliver.

Oh Oliver.

Because as adorable as the purring and nuzzling are during waking hours, they are exactly the opposite amount of adorable while trying to sleep.  Quinn, the good cat, has always slept at the foot of the bed.  Oliver has decided he needs to lay on the pillows, and right next to my ear.  Sorry Ollie.  You’re getting kicked off the island.

Back to the Whole30.  My friend Claire and I both pinned the same picture of a Mango Curry Grilled Chicken dish last week and I made that last night.  It was out of this world delicious.

The marinade is thick.  I had three large chicken breasts in it.  My only regret is not putting more in this amazing mixture.  Don't forget to reserve some for sauce before adding the raw chicken!

The marinade is thick. I had three large chicken breasts in it. My only regret is not putting more in this amazing mixture. Don’t forget to reserve some for sauce before adding the raw chicken!

Cutting up the mango took the most time.  Otherwise, the rest of the ingredients went in the food processor and then poured over chicken.  I marinated my chicken for about 5 hours.

Then onto the grill!

Then onto the grill!

The grill needed a good cleaning afterwards since the marinade is thick and goopy.  Worth it!

I served it with cilantro lime cauliflower "rice" and an avocado.  PLUS, the reserved portion of the marinade as sauce.

I served it with cilantro lime cauliflower “rice” and an avocado. PLUS, the reserved portion of the marinade as sauce.

No time to take a better picture because I was ready to eat.  I remembered that about W30 also.  I’m hungry at about 6pm, so dinner has to be pretty quick after I get home from work.

Speaking of delicious food, how is it that Brussels sprouts have become part of my favorite breakfast?!

Sunday morning, W30 Style.

Sunday morning, W30 Style.

Fry bacon.  Remove from pan.  Add a diced, cooked sweet potato (I microwave it while the bacon is cooking) to the bacon grease to get the edges a little crispy.  Add shredded Brussels sprouts, cook for another minute, move sweet potatoes and sprouts to the side of the pan and cook two eggs as you like them on the other side of the pan.  (I’m sure you could do that in a separate pan, but I like to cook the eggs in what’s left of the bacon fat too.  Mmmm.)  The yolk broke on the left egg in the picture.  I like them runny so it mixes in with the hash and gets extra delicious.  Sunday morning is hauling this plate of delicious, a cup of coffee and the newspaper into the sunroom where I watch Food Network and flip lazily through the paper.  Seriously.  Sunday mornings.

 

In non W30 news, I’m having a paint color crisis.  After much blog browsing, Houzz, Pinterest and HGTV.com browsing, I had narrowed down my paint color for the kitchen walls.  I thought it would be a light, but still noticeably green color.  I put a little sample on the wall and it looks gray.  And drab.  And way darker than expected.  I put a second coat on some of the sample patches (there are now 5 random painted spots in the kitchen to see it in different lights) and not much improvement.  I guess I can see if the nice people at Benjamin Moore can lighten up this can of paint, or I buy a new gallon.  Stay tuned….

Whole 30 – Day 4

According to the wonderful Whole30 Timeline, today and tomorrow are the “Kill all the Things” days.  Since I’ve only come into contact with the cats so far, I can’t say that I want to punch anyone… yet.  But, I do have a big day of meetings, so wish everyone luck.

There’s the saying about when the student is ready, the teacher appears?  That’s how I feel about this round of W30.  I am embracing the challenge.  I sat in front of a plate of cookies at this celebration thing at work yesterday and I was happy just to smell them.  I know that if I had one I would have found a way to have a dozen more cookies throughout the day.  The sugar dragon is real, yo.

Last night I made one of my favorite W30 dishes – the Pad Thai from Well Fed.  I have leftovers of it packed for lunch and that makes me very happy!