Say it with me now.  In through the nose……. out through the mouthhhhhhhh…….

In through the noseeeeeeeee…..

Out through the mouth.


Another tax busy season is (nearly) behind me, and thank the frickin heavens!  Tonight is the first night I’ve come home with nothing URGENT URGENT URGENT to think about in FOR-EV-ER.  It has been a rough few weeks, but the good news is work should be a whole heck of a lot slower until January when the season-who-shall-not-be-named rolls into town once again… bleghhhhhhh….

So to update you on the last few weeks:

ERGONOMICS UPDATE:  My office chair has developed a permanent indentation of my butt due to the extensive quality time we’ve been sharing.

*  OBSESSION UPDATE:  I’ve developed a love for Clif Bars.  You may recall my longstanding obsession with Luna bars.  I dare say Clif bars are now taking the lead.  They leave me feeling fuller longer (quite possibly due to the extra 60 calories they pack) and the Clif bars don’t seem to give me a sugar rush.  Though, I will admit that the Luna Bar flavors are more craveable than Clif’s flavors.  Must be a girl thing.

RESTAURANT UPDATE:  I had a string of crappy meals, which I didn’t think was possible in CLT.  I was sadly wrong.  Two thumbs down to disturbingly grey eggs and unidentifiable breakfast potatoes at Bluprint, incredibly fatty steak at Firebirds, and insane over usage of butter at Cajun Queen.  BLEGH!

TRAVEL UPDATE:  BF and I went to Chimney Rock, NC for a day to hike courtesy of a Living Social deal I snagged a few months back.

We hiked, and climbed, and did our best not to contract poison ivy….


There were beautiful vistas, fancy gaps, and excessive sweating.


We also took impromptu senior year of high school photos:


How ridiculous is that photo???  Makes me giggle every time I look at it!

And since the BF is *cough* afraid of heights *cough* I climbed to the top by my onesie:


Even though it was overcast that day, the view was gorgeous!



WARNING:  Do not look directly at my white legs.  Doing so may cause temporary blindness.


CHEAP ASS UPDATE:  Target has Clif Bars and Luna Bars on sale this week!  They have boxes of 6 and limited flavors in BOXES OF SEVEN for $5!!  HOLLER!

TECH SAVVY UPDATE:  The wireless on my computer died Green with envy

*  NOT-SO-TECH-SAVVY UPDATE:  I spent 45 minutes on the phone trying to fix the computer problem.  This included several rounds of me answering the same exact series of questions over and over.  I think the rep was hoping I’d change my responses.  Think again, Dell.  Think again….Devil

FRIENDS AND FAM UPDATE:  The BF’s mom and pop came to Charlotte.  We showed them the town (through food, naturally).  We also had a make-your-own pizza night at my humble abode:


Mmmmmmm pizzzzzzzzzzaaaaaaaa  *drool*


BEEF CAKE UPDATE:  I upped my squat and tricep weight at Body Pump!  I’m now up to the following (total weight including 2.5lb bar):

Sept 2011 versus June 2011

  • Warm Up = 22.5 lbs      vs      17.5 lbs
  • Squat =       37.5 lbs      vs      22.5 lbs
  • Chest =      27.5 lbs      vs      17.5 lbs
  • Back =        32.5 lbs      vs      22.5 lbs
  • Triceps =    27.5 lbs      vs      12.5 lbs
  • Biceps =     22.5 lbs      vs      17.5 lbs
  • Lunges =     22.5 lbs     vs      12.5 lbs
  • Shoulders = 22.5 lbs     vs      17.5 lbs

My goal over the next two weeks is to bump up my squat and back weight again.  Every time I increase my squat weight I get lower back pains, so I’m going to work really hard on my form.  I’m watching the how-to videos on the Body Pump website as we speak…

RUNNING UPDATE:  I didn’t run for two weeks, and felt like death was upon me when I ran 6 miles Sunday.  But I did it, and I hope to beat my eight-mile record in the next couple of weeks!

*  THE WHY-IT’S-GOOD-TO-DATE-GUYS-WITH-SKILLS-UPDATE:  My IT guy fixed my computer *wink* *wink*

NERD UPDATE:  Shit got serious on my 2012 budget spreadsheet.  Yes, that’s my 2012 annual budget I’m working on, which is something I’ve started every September for the past 7 years.  Every year it gets bigger and better, and with the addition of my new friend the “Indirect Formula” my summary spreadsheet just went to a whole new level of awesomeness.   Be jealous.

So fill me in!  What have you been up to?  What have you cooked?  Where have you been?  What have I missed???  My Google Reader is outta control right now!!


A day in Clover, SC

This past weekend my mom and sister made the long haul down from Ohio to visit me in North Carolina.  7 hours in the car, and they still had smiles on their faces when they arrived Open-mouthed smile

I’ve been so excited for them to come down since I relocated to Charlotte in April.  When you’ve spent your whole life in one area, it’s really bizarre to pick up, move, and plop down in an entirely new city without physically sharing it with your friends and family.

One of our excursions over the weekend led us to Clover, South Carolina to visit my mom’s friend Lucy.  My mom and Lucy met on the internet.  Apparently, that string of crazy runs in the family Smile.

Clover is a very rural town about 45 minutes away from Charlotte and about 30 minutes from Rock Hill, SC.

By rural, I mean there was a whole lot of this going on:


I don’t know what it is about this photo, but I absolutely love it.  Maybe it’s because I don’t often get the opportunity to photograph animals in such close proximity, or maybe it’s just the look in this guy’s eye.  Doesn’t he look like he’s posing for the photo??

Lucy lives on a beautiful property dotted with wildlife and rustic buildings.


It’s crazy that such a short drive out of the city brings you to this peaceful, seemingly simple, town.


If it weren’t for the sweltering heat (holy triple digits!) I could have walked around taking photos for hours.  Every nook and cranny bubbled over with picturesque country charm.


Are you ready to hightail it to the countryside yet?


By the time we finished touring Lucy’s house, we were starving (when am I not?) and headed to Lell’s Café in Rock Hill for lunch:


Lell is a friend of Lucy’s, and her café is about “real food and quality products.”  They specifically focus on using fresh local ingredients with an emphasis on keeping the menu as organic and natural as possible.  They don’t even serve pop (soda for your southerners), given the artificial ingredients and chemicals it contains.

How awesome is that?


I eyeballed the menu and the specials and spent some time drooling over these fabulous looking scones:DSCF7003

But decided to go with Lucy’s advice and get the French Connection sandwich for my meal:DSCF7012

The French Connection had sliced ham, a generous portion of deliciously melty brie (welcome to heaven), and fruit spread:DSCF7009

I’m not usually big on mixing sweet and savory, but I am so happy I stepped outside the box and got this sandwich because the combination was simply fabulous.



Jenny tried the veggie wrap which featured the hummus of the day.  Unfortunately, the hummus of the day happened to be olive hummus and Jenny happens to hate olives (even more than I do!).  She took most of the wrap home with us, and Mom, who adores olives (she must be adopted) had the leftovers for a midnight snack and said it was fabulous.  DSCF7007

I tried to be sneaky and snap a photo of mom on my way back from the bathroom.  Of course the light shining in the window washed out what could have become THE ONLY photo in existence with her actually smiling.


Apparently the gods are on her side and intervened on the photo op, thus destroying my hopes of getting a natural photo of her.

One of the many great things about Lell’s is their serious coffee selection:DSCF6999

I went with the mocha latte:


So friggin delicious.  One of these days I am going to get a job as a barista so I can learn to make delicious coffee concoctions for myself.  A girl can dream, right?

Lell’s carries their local focus from the table to the walls and displays artwork of several local artists.  Lucy was one of the artists featured.  How cool!DSCF7014

Lell's Cafe on Urbanspoon

After lunch we drove around Rock Hill, scouted out downtown Clover, then hit up the Goodwill where I found a new pair of running shorts (tags still attached!) and a gap skirt for $3 a pop.

Can I get a Boo.Ya.?

Dinner was courtesy of Lucy’s husband Tommy, the Red-Neck-Chef.


Hello Moroccan Chicken!


As soon as I saw the olives, I had to giggle.  Poor Jenny Smile


Even with the olives, this meal was deserving of a golf clap for the chef!  I adore anything with cumin, so this dish was right up my alley.  Ok…  yes, I picked out the olives. Maybe the Red-Neck-Chef will post this recipe to his blog so we can all enjoy it again Smile

We ended our visit in Clover on a sweet note courtesy of a large slice of Lucy’s homemade peach pie:DSCF7028

Only in the south Smile

I may not have gotten any photos of the people in this post, but every person mentioned has a website so feel free to get your stalk on Winking smile



I’ve been doing A LOT of eating lately.  It’s not my fault, really.  How can a gal not fall victim to sensory overload in this food-filled city of Charlotte?  Every street, every corner, every nook and cranny of this beautiful city is buttered with interesting restaurants to try–from fancy schmancy steak and lobster grilles to down-home-country barbecues to fabulous food trucks and every single flavor combination in between.

Let’s just say I’m in glutton heaven, and I’ve made it my personal goal to try each and every restaurant in the city.  I’m dedicated to this cause.

As I try more and more places, I’ve started picking up on some of the soap-operaesque back stories of the local establishments.  One that is particularly intriguing is the story behind The Penguin Drive-In in Plaza Midwood.

DSCF6524 DSCF6523

In the past, the Penguin was just one of those places you had to go.  If you were a true Charlottean (yes, that’s what they call us), you’d been to the Penguin a hundred times and you’d eaten your fair share of their famous fried pickles.  Newbies in town didn’t know what they were missing as they walked right by the Penguin’s dilapidated building and awfully awkward parking.

But then Guy Fieri stopped in at the Penguin for his show Diners, Drive-in, and Dives, and all hell broke loose.  I’ll admit, I love the show, and I love seeing places I’ve visited on TV.  It’s almost like for that millisecond when the image flashes across the screen you are actually a part of something famous.  As if your emotional investment in the place somehow makes you a part owner, and you burst with pride when you see your baby on the big screen.

What, just me?


Anyway, due to some disagreements, two of the four guys who ran the Penguin left to open Pinky’s Westside.  The remaining two owners couldn’t come to an agreement with their landlord, so they were forced to abandon the Penguin.  The landlords of the building then decided to run the Penguin themselves, and the other two guys opened up the Diamond Grill, literally a block away from the Penguin. I think I’ve got that straight…

Interestingly, all three restaurants serve hotdogs and all three have fried pickles on the menu.  The newly-owned Penguin has the “famous Penguin fried pickles,” Pinky’s has “Greg’s pickles,” and the Diamond has “classic fried pickles—the neighborhood’s first and best original recipe.”  Can you smell the rivalry brewing?

Of the three restaurants, I’ve only been to the Penguin so far, which many other Charlotteeans are boycotting in favor of the Diamond.  Let’s hope this post doesn’t get me blacklisted.

The Penguin had a TON on the menu that I wanted strike that NEEDED in my belly.


But as I perused the menu, one item made my heart sing.

The Ma… the Meatloaf Hot Dog. 


Chili. Onion. Slaw.  Seriously?!?!


Let’s make brief note of the MONSTROUS side salad that came along side with a balsamic dressing was to die for.


But really, chili, onions, and coleslaw on a hotdog?!  My world was officially rocked.  Hands down THE BEST hot dog I have ever consumed.


Now that I know the backstory I feel it is my moral foodie obligation to give all three of the brawling restaurants an equal tasting.  I MUST go to the Diamond and to Pinky’s to give their Weiner Wonderlands an equal shot.  Seriously, it says Weiner Wonderland on the menu… get your head out of the gutter already.

Nutritional stats on the hotdog:  1 clogged artery, 1 full belly

Penguin on Urbanspoon


Holy crap, that was a lot of food.

Have you ever been in conversation with a new person and thrown out the obligatory “so, Bill, what do you do for a living?” and had Bill come back with “well Mary, I’m a psychiatrist”?  Confused smile

When a person discovers they’re in the midst of conversation with someone who analyzes people for a living, they are immediately scared.  (What the heck have I said in the last five minutes? …  Does he think I’m a basket case… Why am I suddenly sweating profusely?!)  All of this fear and anxiety is followed by near immediate curiosity.

Oddly enough, that’s a similar reaction to the one I get when I first tell a person I’m a food blogger.  People get oddly weirded out, followed almost instantly with excited curiosity.  I try to explain that I am not a food critic, but a food enjoyer.  I’m not professionally critiquing food, but rather honestly sharing my experiences with the food with friends and fellow foodies.

Isn’t sharing food with others what makes a good meal great, anyway?