Columbus Restaurant Week

I love a restaurant week.  My sisters and I always made “sistah” dates during the St. Louis ones.  It is such a good way to try a new place.

Columbus restaurant week is this week and last night I arranged a night at Lindey’s – one of the restaurants on my must visit lists pretty much since I moved here.  The restaurant is fine dining in the German Village neighborhood.

Lindey's.  Photo courtesy of their website.

Lindey’s. Photo courtesy of their website.

Friends Rex, Andre & Peter and I decided to take a table out on the patio.  It was warm, but not miserable, and the Lindey’s patio is really lovely.

Lindey's Patio

Lindey’s Patio

There were delicious cocktails, amazing food and really fun conversation.  This particular group of gentlemen are so smart and diverse that I never know exactly where the conversation may go.  Last night included topics such as a lively discussion about how many big cities a state had to have to be considered an urban state (i.e. Ohio has 3 larger cities and 2 medium sized cities and is a smaller state – we are urban.  Missouri has two larger cities and 1, maybe 2, medium sized cities – they are not an urban state.)  and what terrible movie you tolerated watching just to make out with the person you were watching the movie with.  (Idiocracy.  That’s the movie I suffered through just because I wanted to make out with the the guy.)

Additionally, we came up with the topic that may very well be the research topic I pursue.  We were doing some word association with corporate buzzwords at one point and hit a combination that is probably a really good idea.  I’m sure the idea currently exists in pieces so I need to explore it more – but it might just be genius.

The food was just really fantastic as well.  I had a chilled asparagus and crab soup, shrimp and grits, and root beer creme brulee.  I got a taste of everyone’s dishes and I have to say I made great ordering choices.

After dinner we walked a couple blocks to a little bar to play darts, where this happened…

I managed to do this three times.  I'm good at darts after some drinks.

I managed to do this three times. I’m good at darts after some drinks.

And then home.

Not a remarkable night.  Probably even an ordinary night from the outside.  Even as I write this, I know it’s not that exciting.  Except to me.  It was nice to get out, be out and to have a nice time.  Time heals all wounds.  Time…and laughing.

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. 




First, watch this little clip from HIMYM:

My turn…

Miracle – my sister scheduling my niece’s (and soon to be goddaughter’s!!) baptism for the first weekend of August despite me trying to persuade her to reschedule it for reasons that are fairly ridiculous.  I got a second wind slap in the face from the recent break up today and came home to listen to some Cowboy Mouth, the official soundtrack of break ups.  Then I decided this was a serious enough break up situation that I need them in concert and was willing to drive to a nearby city to make this happen if need be.  Cowboy Mouth will be in St. Louis the weekend of the baptism!  Woo!  Ticket procured.  I’m ready.  I can’t even remember the last concert of theirs I went to, which means it’s been waaaay too long.  Some have religion, I have Cowboy Mouth.  Appropriate for baptism weekend, really.

Now that I think about, this week (outside of the above mentioned break up nonsense relapse) has been full of things that went my way.  I got an unexpected extension on this project that had become the monkey on my back.  I have been struggling with a work assignment for months.  It’s a smaller assignment, I could have knocked it out if I had put the attention on it, I had reached the point where I thought if I avoided it – maybe it would be forgotten about.  No such luck, but an unexpected shift in the deadline and a push by me to get it done means I can stop dreading this thing!

I got a second chance to fill my house with some good entertaining moments.  I had a housewarming/Tres de Mayo party (Cinco was a Monday) that ended with some drunken shenanigans (not my own) that have always left a bad taste in my mouth about the evening.  This past Tuesday I invited the 6 consultants that travel to Columbus each week to my house for dinner to give them a break from hotels and restaurants.  It ended up being a great night – but any night that ends in people playing Just Dance on the Wii is a good night!

I recently gave a presentation on Org Change Management to an IT group at Nationwide during their annual meeting.  It went well, and I received good feedback from the leaders on it.  That’s good news because I want to be very successful at NW, but the most exciting part of that is the random email I got a few days later from a woman who attended saying, “You were funny.  I know you’re still kind of new here – want to get lunch?”  Umm, yeah I do!  To top that off, I got an email from someone else who was there saying they are arranging a large all team meeting (about 250 ppl) and want me to speak to that group also.

There comes a time in the post break up/dealing with stuff phase that I stop looking backwards and switch gears to what lies ahead.  Today is that day.

I’m looking at a four day weekend ahead (I took off Monday too) where I will finally begin work on the kitchen!  I pushed it back a couple days for the following reasons:

1. Didn’t want the wall torn up with people coming over for dinner Tuesday night.

2. I need to buy a crow bar to pull this dang backsplash down.

3. And I need to understand what joint compound is and how to use it.

I may walk to my little neighborhood’s 4th of July parade tomorrow morning.  I may go see a showing of 1776 at the local theatre this weekend (Mr. Feeney as John Adams!).  I’ll take a break from the kitchen Saturday night to go to this supposedly awesome brewery in a town about an hour away with some friends.  I’ll say yes to the BBQ invite I got from a newer co-worker for Sunday afternoon.  And I’m taking Rex on his first trip to Ikea/Jungle Jim’s on Monday.  That is a BIG day for him, I don’t even think he realizes!

When the hermit is ready, the social life appears!

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 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 9

Just a quick update on how the Whole 30 is going.

According to my favorite reference, the W30 Timeline, Day 9 is about your insides going through an uncomfortable adjustment phase.  I think I hit that phase a little earlier this time around.

The Whole 30 is going really well so far.  The book says this week is the hardest week, where most people will bail on it.  I’m not worried about that.  I’m in this, and I know it’s the best for me.  The hardest part about staying on track is socializing while staying committed.  I went to dinner with some friends Saturday night and it was this wonderful Italian restaurant that makes everything from scratch.  Two people at the table got the night’s special – a cannelloni filled with a braised short rib and smothered in some kind of delicious sauce that was most definitely made with cream.  The other three people drank delicious local beer.  I had a kale salad with salmon. I indulged in sparkling water.  Dinners are okay – there’s always something I can make work on a menu.  But I did pass on going on to this festival they were going to after dinner – considering it was sponsored by every delicious beer, wine, vodka, cupcake and ice cream place in town – that would have been too much temptation.

I do have a favorite breakfast during W30′s, and one I never would have figured out without doing this.  Brussel Sprouts for breakfast!  Cook bacon, then cook shaved sprouts and diced sweet potato in the bacon fat to make a delicious hash, then cook two eggs how you like them and serve on top of the hash.  Mmmmmm.  Eating that, reading the paper and watching some food network make Sundays magical.

Last night I really wanted BBQ pork, so I pulled out Well Fed and had almost everything to make her bbq sauce.  I ran to the store to get some dates (where the little bit of sweetness in the sauce comes from) and my store had none.  Well, they had no fresh medjool dates.  They had dried dates which include added sugar.  No bueno.  In a pinch, I bought a Larabar and added half of that to the blender when I was making the sauce.  It’s primarily dates, right?  It worked out fine.  I can’t say the sauce is my new favorite, but it did the trick.

So – that’s how it’s going.

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!


Italian pork roast



I do not use that lightly.

When trying to eat all Paleo/ Whole 30 like I rely on the fantastic Well Fed cookbook.  I made the Italian Pork Roast today and it was amazing.  It came together super fast, I made the spice rub (salt, pepper, fennel, oregano, thyme, and a bit of crushed red pepper) last night and this morning jabbed at the 5lb roast with a paring knife and stuck some garlic cloves in it.  Into my new crock pot (a larger, programmable version of my old baby one, one of many lovely Christmas gifts from D) and have been eyeing it until 7pm (directions call for a 14 hour cooktime, I gave it 13.  Girl has gotta eat, yo).image

I pulled it out of the crock pot and kept picking at it like it was a turkey at Thanksgiving (I like to hover around Grandpa when he carves the turkey).  I just kept putting hunks of shredded pork in my mouth.  No plates, no meal, just meat.  I eventually roasted a bunch of brussel sprouts, reduced some balsamic vinegar into a glaze and drizzled that over them so I had some vegetable component.  It was good friends.  Very, very good.


Meat never photographs well, but you gotta believe me it was delicious.  And I have lots of leftovers… come on over.

In other news, the Arctic Air made it’s way to Columbus today:

wpid-20140106_161222.jpgI’m in there somewhere.  In the one minute I had my mitten off to take this picture and text it to D (telling him I was making a face at him underneath it all – more specifically the notorious “duck face” which he made me promise to leave in 2013) my fingers nearly got frostbite.  No joke.  It took 20 minutes for them to stop stinging.  -2 degrees doesn’t mess around.

25 does not equal 30

Remember when I was updating you on my Whole30 progress…and then how I stopped updating you on my Whole30 progress?

Well, that’s because that’s just what happened…I made it to day 25 and felt amazing.  I was headed back to St. Louis for the weekend and throwing myself a little graduation dinner party.  I got home early on Friday, went for a run in a favorite park, went to Whole Foods and got a Whole30 compliant lunch and then couldn’t stop thinking about what I would do at dinner.  Would I have a glass of wine to celebrate?  Champagne?  Cheese?  Dessert?

The answer to all of the above is yes.

I caved.  Gave myself permission to celebrate at dinner.  And it was just that easy to never get back on the horse.  And I’m back to feeling kind of blech.

There was a warning on the Whole9 Life blog about this.  They refer to it as Day 28 syndrome, isn’t 28 days as good as 30?  They say NO.  They write that 30 days is the commitment you make to yourself.  And when you don’t keep commitments to yourself, you’re telling yourself that it’s okay that others don’t keep their commitments to you.

This is my new half marathon challenge.  That was a commitment I made to Team in Training.  My sense of responsibility is always so much stronger when I’ve made a promise to someone else.  This is a problem, actually.  Starting tomorrow the clock starts on a full Whole30.  I owe it to myself.


In other news…how cute is this pic of D and I from a wedding we went to last weekend…

Doug & Sarah photo booth

Whole30 meals this week


Let me show you what I’ve been eating this week with Whole30.  As I mentioned, I came back from my quick getaway with a renewed sense of excitement about cooking and good food.


Vegetable Fritatta

Inspired by a picture I saw on the Whole30 Facebook page (link to original source here) AND a large garden tomato given to me by a co-worker this was dinner tonight…


Start with all the veggies you have laying around. Asparagus, onion, red pepper and spinach. Cook in some olive oil until onions are soft and spinach is wilted.


Beat 8 eggs with about 1/3 cup water (about 1 T. per egg), thyme, salt and pepper. Pour into pan and leave on burner until it starts to look set at the edges. Put in over for 20 minutes on 375 degrees.

Fig & Balsamic Chicken

One of the nicest thing about Whole30 is no counting.  No counting calories, points, servings – etc.  They have a few portion control guidelines but I haven’t weighed anything in almost 3 weeks.  Kind of nice.  And this meal is the first time I feel like I ate tooo much.  I was very full.  I knew I should have only eaten half the chicken breast (seriously, they were huge) but this dish was way to good to not just keep going for it.


I started sauteing onions and fresh figs I quartered in olive oil. Once the onions were soft I added a healthy couple of glugs of balsamic vinegar and let simmer for about 10 minutes. I put two huge seasoned chicken breasts on top of the onion fig mixture and popped the whole thing in the oven. 350 for 25 minutes.


Yum! I put the chicken breast on a plate and loaded it up with the figs and onions which were so sweet and delicious.


Pair that with brussel sprouts (my new favorite!) and some mixed greens and you’ve got dinner!

Mango radish salsa goes on everything!

Really, it does.  I made a batch of it Sunday night when I got home and put it over a chicken breast seasoned with jerk seasoning.  Last night I put the remainder of it over some salmon.


Mango, red onion, radishes, green onion, cilantro and lime juice go into the food processor. Salmon and asparagus cook in a foil bag in the oven with some jerk seasoning and lemon. Top it off with mixed greens and avocado. Delicious!!



And my drink of choice these days? Water, of course. No one said I couldn’t have the wine glass still.

So, there you have it.  What I’ve been eating this week.

I’m on Day 17.  Here’s what the Whole30 timeline says…

Days 16-27: Tiger Blood

Goodbye cravings, hello Tiger Blood! This must be what everyone is talking about!

You’ve hit the downhill slope of your Whole30 and life is beautiful. Your energy is through the roof, you’ve kicked the cravings, you’re experimenting with new, delicious food, and you’ve finally got the time to notice that your clothes fit better, your workouts are stronger, and you are generally more awesome.

There’s not much more to say about this phase – go forth and enjoy!

I didn’t have any kooky food dreams during the last phase.  I had a dream about Claire and I going to law school and she knew where we were supposed to park and that we had to leave our books in the classroom and I knew nothing.  There wasn’t a cupcake to be seen in that dream.  I do smell donuts everywhere.  I smelled them while we were on the boat last weekend, I smelled them ALL DAY today.  I smell them now sitting on my couch.  It’s like there’s maple syrup hiding under my couch or something.

The other MAJOR PLUS is how great the sleeping thing is!  As in, I’m getting some.  I fall asleep easily around 10:30pm.  I wake up on my own around 6am.  I’m not tired when I get home from work.  I’ve stopped turning the tv on as I fall asleep.  I’m getting actual sleep.  This is reason enough to do this plan.


Big weekend fun!

Things I did this weekend:

1. Gave waterskiing a shot

2. Stand up paddle boarding

3. So much boating on the lake fun!

4. Played in a sand volleyball tournament

5. Caught up with two old friends from my casino days.

6. Relaxed on a beautiful deck with coffee and the paper on Sunday morning

7. Hung out with the cutest almost-2-year-old ever

8. Went grocery shopping.

You’ll never believe what I took a picture of…


Yes, this is me outside of the grocery store.

In my defense, it is the largest grocery store in the country – and I passed right by it going to my friends’ house this weekend.  How could I not stop by.  Also in my defense – no one here wants pictures of themself in a swimsuit on the internets…

I feel like I’ve been gone a week – that’s how restorative the last 24 hours have been.  I relaxed on their boat, played in the water, gave paddle boarding a chance (I was pretty good!), tried waterskiing (I was NOT pretty good), and just enjoyed great conversation with my lovely, lovely friend.  Becky and her husband have a beautiful home in this lake community.  After a big Saturday of boating with her entire family (I sort of crashed her nephew’s birthday party) I slept so well (bamboo sheets – best sheets ever!) and woke up to another beautiful day that was much quieter.  I made some coffee and brought my kindle out to their huge deck overlooking a lot of trees and felt happy.  I felt relaxed, which I notice when happens because I’m not often relaxed.  I felt very focused as well.

I did a great job staying true to Whole30 while I was out there.  Which, I’m really proud of because Becky’s mom is the maker of my favorite alcoholic beverage of all time – Cherry Whiskey.  She ferments the cherries herself and filters them through the whiskey and it is so delicious.  I abstained.  I stayed away from the two birthday cakes, the chips, the cheese, the whiskey and the wine.  For a girl who was this close to a pizza on Friday night (and not even good pizza – we’re talking Little Caesar’s here) I could have gotten away with eating whatever I wanted all weekend.  Becky didn’t know I was on this Whole30 adventure.  But I knew.  And I did it!  And it led to a great conversation Sunday morning when it was just Becky, Bill and I.

I got a renewed excitement about the Whole30 plan while I was there.  I continue to feel good and ready to commit to the workout plan that has to go with this.  I was reading Runner’s World magazine on her deck Sunday morning and can’t describe the clarity and commitment to myself I was feeling.  I’m on day 14 now.  I got this.  I got some great ideas for meals while there and because Becky is so beautiful I remembered one of my own goals of this endeavor – I’ve got the makings to be a lot hotter than I am.  Let’s face it, I have great hair and crazy long legs.  I should really be capitalizing on these things.  (Please detect some level of sarcasm there – I’m vain, but I did make that comment tongue in cheek.)

To continue my full disclosure, I do have to admit I bought a few things at Jungle Jim’s (the grocery store) to have the occasional treat after this adventure is over…



With this special little number…

Etude Pinot Noir.  It's going to be great.

Etude Pinot Noir. It’s going to be great.

This bottle of wine was the first time I realized there was great wine.  I was living in Louisiana and the restaurant Ex Hubs and I went to every Friday night was always introducing us to new stuff.  This bottle….Yum.  Now, this is a 2011 Pinot and not a 2005, but I’ll take it.  It’s kind of surprising to me (shocking, really) that there has not been a single glass of champagne or other great wine toast to the end of school.  The good news is I’ll be back in St. Louis in a couple weeks and plan to rectify that at a little graduation dinner I’m throwing for a few of my favorites.  Nothing overboard, just a good ole fashioned toast with something delicious.

Speaking of delicious – my dinner last night was!  I knew I had a mango in the fridge that had to get used, so at Jungle Jim’s I picked up items to make a mango salsa – radishes, red onion, green onion and cilantro.  Threw those in the food processor with the mango and squeezed a little lime juice and salt over it and let it sit in the fridge while I prepped everything else.  I roasted brussel sprouts.  I pounded a chicken breast flat so it would grill faster and spread a little coconut oil on the grill pan before throwing it on.


Grilled chicken with mango salsa (radish, red onion, mango, green onion, lime, cilantro) and brussel sprouts

Grilled chicken with mango salsa (radish, red onion, mango, green onion, lime, cilantro) and brussel sprouts