Foodie Penpals: This Time, It’s DECEMBER!

Gooood evening, folks!

I know I haven’t posted much over this self-instituted break from work for the holidays. There’s been family time, there’s been friend time, there’s been boyfriend time…. There’s even been puppy time!!

But let’s not forget the most important thing of the month (blog-related, at least…)

Fooooodie Penpals!

Though I’ll be taking off next month for finishing up grad school applications, traveling, and hosting folks, I received a most delightful package in the mail from reader, Lindsey, who heeded my every wish and desire.

Oooh, yteah, that's the good stuff!

First and foremost, check out that peppermint bark!

Peppermint party, much?

She used a recipe from the infamous Julie’s blog, and it was such a treat that I even brought some home to share with my family (but just some…  The rest was for me.)

Also on the highlights reel?

Candy Cane Lane should be my new address.

LOVE this tea. So delicious, I brought the whole box to the office to do some office hoarding, as I often do with delicious treats at work.

Or how about this hot-cha-cha treat?

Spice is always nice

I can’t wait to burn my tastebuds off with this very intimidating bottle.  Jealous?

Thank you SO MUCH, Lindsey! I continue to be impressed with everything these perfect strangers can appeal to my tastebuds… it’s a dream come true.

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. *US Residents only please at this time- hopefully we can expand soon!*

If you’re interested in participating for January, please send  an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)

I will need to hear from you by January 4th as pairings will be emailed on January 5th!

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Price Family Edition

‘Twas the night before Christmas, the home was looking fine,

Seven Prices were stirring, and two smelly canines.

Stinky.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

From youngest to oldest (I brought up the rear)

First born perks!

The ornaments were unwrapped, which is always fun

And stories were told about each and every one.

Tar Heel Nation

The tree was so tall, we weren’t sure what was a matter.

Luckily we’re giants, giants who own a ladder.

Bump mans the ladder, Ki mans the... brother.

Our tree looked so fierce, but something was missing…

A HA! we shouted, “It needs  some more glistening!”

Tinsel attack!!

The tinsel, it sparkled, making a twinkle in my eye!

And we blew a few strands, so they’d shine way up high.

My tinseling skills are unparalleled

It wouldn’t be Christmas without our hats and PJs

The pants were so cozy, I could wear them for days!

Family Fashion

My new camera was a hit, especially with mom.

Unbeknownst to me, she snagged a picture of my bum.

Great shot, mom. Thanks.

We had lots to do, but we dug down deep.

And all of that work made us all crave some sleep.

Some more than others...

Christmas eve with family always fills me with glee

And check it out, a family photo for ALL to SEE!!

Like our Phillies hats?

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!!

I know it’s a bit belated, but the past few days have been JAM-PACKED! Glad to have some time to relax…

What’s your favorite Christmas Eve tradition?

Memoirs of a Road Warrior

Yesterday, for nine hours, I was a road warrior. A trip that, in the past, has taken me a mere 6.5-7 hours transformed into a nine hour driving bonanza.  I figured there’d be no harm in inviting you into my brain during those nine glorious hours.  Here are the thoughts I thought, the sights I saw, and musings along the way.

Heck yeah! 10:30, getting started early!! I’ll be home in time for an early dinner!

Every time I see Oxford on a sign, whether it’s in North Carolina or Pennsylvania, I wish it was for Mississippi.

I am so hungry. Why didn’t I eat before I left?  I’ll just hold off until 12:30. If I can make it until then, I’ll be more than a quarter through the trip! [how wrong I was.]

Marlboro Country?

Good to know the cigarette business is alive and kicking.

Driving through Virginia is like inviting all of my country music dreams to come to life.

LUNCHTIME!

You know what would go so well with leftover salad?

Solid choice.

Salad + Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets + Fries = balanced meal.

I’m pretty sure that Taylor Swift and I would be great friends in real life. She might get mad that I couldn’t French braid her hair, though. That’s okay, I’m sure she has people for that.

Since when is a medium soda the size of my face?  There’s no way I’ll be able to finish this.

*rattling of ice* Wow, was that it?

[20 minutes later] gotta pee.

Gotta pee, gotta pee, gotta pee.

I know… I will just get through DC. Once I pass DC, I will get gas and use the restroom.

Thank goodness I have this GPS, I’d never know where I was going.

[At this point, I blindly followed my GPS that hasn’t been updated for 4 years.]

Uh oh.

Washington Monument or America's peen?

I am not a cartographer, but I’m pretty certain that “around DC” is not the same as “through DC”.  This is going to get messy.

Neat. Now I’m in the middle of Washington DC, no idea of how to get around, hoping to God that this GPS can steer me home.

Bumper to bumper traffic. Score.

Whoah, jam.

Upon closer look, apparently the streets of DC are fans of Lisa.  Or just Okies, in general.

I can’t STAND when people’s cars are so covered in bumper stickers that you feel like you’re reading their biography.

Oh my LORD I have to pee. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever wanted the equpment to pee in a bottle.

FINALLY through Washington!! Time to PEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

And also, time to practice my straw whistling skills. I’m super skilled. (At looking gorgeous and having flawless skin.)

Oooh, is it snowing?!

Refuse.

Turns out it was actually bits of paper and trash coming off the back of this truck. Thank goodness I wasn’t dreaming of a white Christmas.

Hooray! I’m back on I95!! Next stop, HOME!

No, wait, just more traffic.

[at this point, I called my Dad for a back way. then got trigger happy, and took the first turn I saw. BIG mistake.]

Oh, great, one lane road 40 MPH. Lesson of the evening?

Appearances can be deceiving.

Just because a sign says Route 1, doesn’t mean it’s the Route 1 you want to get on. It could be Maryland 1. Or Pennsylvania 1. Or a sign made by a young child. Either way, it’s going to take forever to get home.

Thank GOD for NPR! Today, I learned about Cancer, Pakistan, Doula services, migratory patterns of birds, and NASDAQ.  Jealous?

2 hours later, one GIANT accident navigated around (smart phone to the rescue!), and about 70 miles later…. Is that the intoxicating smell of my mother’s THOUSANDS of candles?!

VICTORY!

I have arrived.

Favorite part of road trips?

Mine is probably the point where you lose all control of being logical and normal and start talking to yourself.

 

 

 

 

Bottom of the Barrel

I think I’ve done it.  I think my cupboards are officially bare (my cupboard being my fridge, because the stuff I keep in the cupboards could last until 2020).

Sure, it involved a bit of over-eating at lunchtime, namely in the field of “half a bag of Trader Joe’s sweet potato fries” but hey, no one likes freezer burn, right?

So little green, so much delicious.

Those orange rods of goodness were fantastic. Their sweet flavor was complimented by a kick of spicy habanero ketchup and a squirt of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and, to round out my meal of generally white/brown/tan/orange colors, an egg/pepperoni/pepper jelly sandwich.  Mmmhm.

I also spent some time during lunch wrapping up all my presents for my family. My apartment complex was nice enough to offer us free wrapping supplies, so I snagged a roll of happy penguin Christmas paper and went to town.  One day, when I have many more presents to wrap and perhaps some little kids to wrap them for, I hope to have a sweet wrapping set-up with all the tape and scissors I can handle, but, in the meantime, I’ll take my paper and ribbon where I can get it.  And, hopefully, my family/friends will take my presents, torn wrapping paper and messy folds and all, without questioning my love for them.

Beautiful mess, yes?

I also have all my clothes folded in neat little piles around the apartment.

While this may sound organized, it is actually not the same as having your bags packed.  On that note, with a beer in my belly, it’s time to get busy finishing up my luggage AND packing the car!! I have high hopes of leaving NC before noon, tomorrow, so I’ve got lots to do before I go!!

Do you have any wrapping talents? Or are you a bag + tissue paper person?

Faux Pas? No, Pas.

The countdown is so fully ON.  Two days left of work, and I’m headed up North for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and all the fun in between. I’d like a Philly cheesesteak, a Capriotti’s Bobbie, and a TON of time with my family and beau. Until then, my mission to empty the fridge continues.  Today’s project?

Fully loaded omelet.

Slathered in goodness

Today’s omelet got rid of a lot of bits and pieces from the produce drawer!

  • 2 egg whites, one yolk (only one egg left!)
  • Red onion (sauteed in EVOO)
  • The last of a bag of spinach
  • The last of a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Some Boar’s Head Pepperoni (my VERY favorite kind of pepperoni)
  • All sorts of Frank’s Red Hot

It was delicious, and the fridge is looking emptier by the second. I also gifted two of the fancy beers I’ve been saving for my hop-head coworker.  The gift of choice was the Thomas Creek Brewery’s “Up the Creek Extreme IPA”. I’ve actually tried this beer once before and, though I don’t have a picture, I do remember being surprised at how much I didn’t like it.  It’s 12.5% ABV, and (though the site claims otherwise), I couldn’t help but taste the booze, and be turned off by the overly-sweet taste. Someone online compared it to a barley wine and, though I wouldn’t ever confuse the two (it’s still too “beery”), I can definitely recognize the similarity.  I’d bought this beer for my coworker a few months ago, and was saving it for a special occasion. Thank goodness for the IPA-fiends in our lives….

In other news, as I mentioned via Twitter, today’s outfit was one of those times where I’m fully aware that I’m not a “fashion blogger.”  I feel like I’d heard that navy and black together are a big “no-no” in the fashion world. But, when I tried on today’s outfit, I felt adorable and twirly, so I just ran with it.

Minus the belt-slippage, cute, right?

I’ve been spinning around all day, and feel certain that, faux pas or not, it’s comfortable and cute.  Big thanks to my NYC correspondent, Lee, for confirming that it is not the biggest fashion mistake I could make.  And the slouchy boots are consistently the coolest accessory I own.

On today’s agenda:

  • Get accustomed to my new computer at work (Christmas came early at the office!)
  • Facilitate a support group
  • HOPEFULLY grab a drink with the infamous Sierra from Posh Meets Pavement, my IRL college buddy who blogs about her jet-setting lifestyle and staying fit in South Africa!
  • Wrap presents/pack like a maniac

Luckily, I heard the latter two are always better after a drink…

Do you disobey any “fashion rules”?

I’m notorious for giant flip flops all the time (especially the least appropriate times…. like weddings.)  The burden of my massive feet.

Did You Know that Bees and Dogs Can Smell Fear?

So, at the end of every year, I hoard my vacation time in hopes for my grown-up version of winter break. And, since I was a grade-A hoarder this year, I’ve successfully collected enough to leave this Friday for over a week!  I’m incredibly excited for a long break without feeling like I’m packing to leave the moment I get settled in a new place.

With that long break looming, though, I have an important task to accomplish.

Daunting, eh?

I’ve gotta eat my way through the remainders of my fridge/freezer. Or at least the perishable foods.  No spinach left behind, and all that good stuff.  Considering the fact that about 40% of my fridge space is taken up by beer, I’m not actually too worried, but there’s still a reasonable amount of eating to do.

Enter the classic “Everything Pizza.” Tonight’s pie was just that, using a base of the tail end of a bag of pre-made whole wheat dough from Harris Teeter. The toppings was where it got really tasty, though:

I popped it in the oven at 425 for about 14-16 minutes, and VOILA!!

Molto bene!!

It was good to the last bite, and fancy-girl cameras always make it look even tastier.  As per, I covered the bad boy with oregano and crushed reds (in essence, probably obliterating any natural flavor from the pizza’s ingredients). Hey, tasty’s tasty, in my book.  I’ve still got a few eggs left, and some spinach to take care of, but it’s nothing a little omelet or two can’t handle.  Needless to say, I’m counting down the seconds to head up to Philly and maybe enjoy some everything bagels and a buffalo chicken cheesesteak (or two).

Since it’s Monday and a segue between pizza and the following subject is too tough, let’s just jump into it: Jonathan Lipnicki.

You might know him better as Ray Boyd from Jerry Maguire.

”]Wasn’t he just the cutest? Well, guess what he’s been doing in the past 15 years?

”]Apparently, sit-ups. And weight lifting. And getting tattoos.

At first, this made me feel old.

Then, I realized I love all those things too. And that Jonathan Lipnicki would probably give me a sexy side-eye if I were at the gym, especially since I’m 3 years older than he is. What child star doesn’t love a successful older woman?

Oh, yeah. (click for source!)

Or older man for you, Chris.  Either way.

Do you have any favorite “clean out the fridge” recipes?

How about any famous child stars ALL GROWN UP?

 

Six Pack Sunday: Santa Rampage 2011 in Durham

Ugh.

I am currently reminded why I no longer go out on the town every week (or 3-4x a week) a la college.  I’ll shoot you straight, though, if my morning tummy troubles are a result of even a fraction of the fun I had last night, it’s well worth it.

Today’s Six Pack Sunday is honor of my always-fantastic Santa Rampage experience.  This is actually my fourth year Running with the Santas and, whether it’s in a group of 50 or a group of four (last year, we were a Christmas Quad), it’s never NOT hilarious and excellent to don a Santa costume and spread Christmas cheer (and enjoy Christmas beer beers.)  It’s also a great reminder that theme parties don’t have to end at graduation.  I personally hope to continue throwing and attending theme parties well into my geriatric years.  Then again, an Anything But Clothes Party at the retirement home might not have the same appeal as it did in the fraternity house.

Moving on.

1. Just call me Santa Crocker

My Bag o' Treats!

Pictured with an ADORABLE (and incredibly thoughtful) card from Hannah, that’s a bag chock full of Coconut Snickerdoodles and Candied Christmas Cashews (and Almonds!)

It’s settled, I will be making these EVERY YEAR for the rampage.  The appreciation of fellow bar-goers for some tasty treats while they booze.  Even though bar snacks aren’t entirely coated in bacteria, I still very rarely see little bowls of nuts or wasabi peas out at establishments, and was blown away by how excited people were to get bags of cookies and nuts. And how trusting they were that I didn’t sneak razor blades or LSD into my goodies.

(I didn’t, for the record.)

2. Road Beer

Always classy

Road Beers: That beer that you have in the car after you parked but before you go out.

Does no one else do this?

Just me?

Oh, good.

3. I am obsessed with my new camera

Hi. You're Hot.

It’s a total game changer. And it’s so important for me to make my pictures of neon Pabst signs artsy.

4. It’s a Small Triangle After All…

One of these things is not like the other

I LOVE when you go out all dolled up and inevitably see someone you know (who is not dressed up like a Jolly Christmas icon). Then you get awesome pictures like this one.

5. Riding the Bull

That's one slippery bull

After a tricky mounting, I eventually made it on top of the infamous Durham Bull statue.

Yee haw!

As you can tell from the gorgeous pair of bells hanging from the neck, the bull was also in the Holiday spirit.

As you can tell from the other pair hanging on the bull, it’s a boy.

6. Only the Good Die Jung

Bahaha, we get it.

Freudian slips be damned, as a psychology major, Carl Jung puns are where it’s at.

My fellow psychology nerd pal, Melissa and I, had to get a picture with this Jung-loving bartender.

Quality evening, all around. I’m off to gather up the courage to hit the gym (or nibble on leftover cashews…)

Candied Christmas Cashews!

Yesterday, I received one of my first “holiday” gifts from a coworker.

Merry, indeed!

Though that festive looking Snowman tried his damndest to hoard all the sugared almonds, I finagled the bag away and managed to enjoy the entire little baggy over the course of yesterday afternoon/evening. I was totally hooked, and after she mentioned that the “recipe” was basically “Pour, mix, let them cool, gobble them up!” I knew what I had to do when I got home.

All I really needed. I like recipes like that.

With the help of a barely-eaten bag of raw cashews that I got a while ago for a Foodie Penpal Exchange, some sugar, and cinnamon, I was on my way.

Mixah Mixah Mixah!

Here’s the recipe, full credit to my coworker Anne, though she’s blogless, so just imagine a lovely blonde California marathon runner serving up a warm batch of these:

Cinnamon Sugar Almonds Candied Christmas Cashews!!

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

3 cups raw almonds Cashews (or any other nut)

1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 cup water

 

Directions: In a large skillet combine the sugar, cinnamon and water. Add the almonds cashews and stir constantly with a spoon over medium heat, coating the almonds nuts with the syrupy mixture. Keep stirring until the sugar crystallizes. Remove the pan from heat and scoop the almonds cashews onto wax or parchment paper. Let the cinnamon almonds cashews cool before serving. These can be made a few days ahead.

I could hardly wait for them to cool before I popped a few in my mouth.

Terribly tempting

Trust me, though, they’re just as tasty the next day during lunch as they are right after making them.

Color block Jordan APPROVED!

And since I wanted to show off my bag of goodies and my brightly colored outfit, I even nibbled a few outside in the crisp 65 degree December weather.

Though it doesn’t feel as cold as Christmas time, yet, these would make great presents for anyone who isn’t allergic to nuts. So much so, in fact, that I hope to receive a 3lb bag of my own.

Have you ever gifted or received a DIY present?  What was it ?!

 

Skinnylicious and Zumba-tritious!

Hey hey folks, we made it to Wednesday!

Since I’m in the office for lunch, today, no No Pants Wednesday for me today…I enjoyed a few leftover chips and bread from our office holiday party for which, true to fashion, I was the only one that dressed up.

Old habits die hard.

Oh well, I think it was obvious that the holiday spirit was in everyone’s hearts as we ate our way through a MASSIVE catering by the Cheesecake Factory.

I normally steer clear of the giant Factory, known for it’s ENORMOUS portions and frying everything from zucchini to macaroni and cheese.  And I’ll admit, yesterday during lunch, I definitely over-indulged a little bit.  But by choosing a very healthy option from their “Skinnylicious Menu”, I managed to not feel too bloated after enjoying some of the shared appetizers (spinach artichoke dip and Tex Mex egg rolls).

I even had enough for a hearty dinner made of delicious leftovers.  Folks, I present about 2/3 of the Skinnylicious Grilled Salmon and Vegetables!

Skinnylicious!!

I scoped out the Skinnylicious Menu and found a bunch of (reasonably priced) healthier options and small plates that I think will definitely come in handy the next time I head to the Cheesecake Factory.  It was delicious, even reheated, and the (likely less-than healthy) dipping sauce on the side made everything even more tasty, creamy, and flavorful.

As for the Zumba-tritious…. well that’s gotta be the sore, sweaty feeling I felt after a particularly intense Zumba session at the gym!  There were actually 4 Zumba instructors in the class, though only one was the instructor, and, for some reason, I tend to get competitive when I feel like there are skilled folks in my group fitness classes.  Or if there’s a very tall lady, or a pregnant women. I don’t know, it’s a bad habit, but it’s the athlete inside of me and wants to win.

Luckily, since EVERYONE wins when we Zumba, I left feeling great.  I also left thinking about the most recent Zumba classes I’ve taken.  And I think I realized that, even though it’s supposed to be a “Latin dance inspired cardio workout”, I always prefer the songs that are less of a samba and more of a chance to dance like a crazy person.  So, in case you’re looking for a fun (short) dance party playlist, these are my three FAVORITE Zumba songs to dance to!

1. Jai Ho – The Pussycat Dolls

With a sweat-blasting pony step, sexy hip swirls, and Bollywood inspired moves, this song’s beat and tune always get me working harder/better/faster/stronger.

2. Waka Waka – Shakira

This official song of the FIFA World Cup always makes me want to kick a ball into a net, rip off my shirt, and show off my killer bod a la Brandi Chastain.

HECK YES, WE'RE THE WINNERS!

In the video, it’s very apparent that Shakira’s hips don’t lie, and the African chanting lend themselves so well to the lyrics:

You’re on the frontline
Everyone’s watching
You know it’s serious
We’re getting closer
This isnt over

If the little kids jumping all over the place in the video don’t inspire you, clearly you have no soul.

3.  Country Girl (Shake it for Me) – Luke Bryan

I think my family would disown me if they knew just how much I love country music. Clearly, my parents should’ve never let me go to school in North Carolina (oh, and falling for a Mississippi boy… I’m a walking cliche).

This song makes me wanna sweat the heck out of my achey brakey heart, eat some fried catfish, and grab some boots.

Mostly, I just look good in a cowboy hat.

What’s your favorite song to Zumba to?

Or, if you don’t Zumba, what’s your favorite song to workout to? That one tune that makes you push harder than anything else?

Bruisin’ Ales: A Place for Beer People

You folks like Third Eye Blind? I love Third Eye Blind. And the lyrics from one of their songs, “Misfits”, always fill my heart with joy.

My people are the misfits
The ones that don’t fit in
With the smile I know it comes within
I can feel you in the corners laughing when the lighting’s low.

This song speaks of that feeling you get, that warmth that glows and grows inside of you when you’re surrounded by a community of people that, while unlike many, are so like you that it just fits.

That’s how I feel about Beer People, and that’s how I felt at Bruisin’ Ales in Asheville, NC this weekend.

Put up your dukes!

In the Triangle, there’s Sam’s Quik Shop in Durham, Bottle Revolution and Tasty Beverage Co. in Raleigh, and TJ’s Beverage & Tobacco  in Carrboro. But I wasn’t in the Triangle, I was in Asheville, and after a day of shopping in the Biltmore Village, I needed less artisanal soaps and more craft suds of the boozy nature. Bruisin’ Ales delivered on that, and so much more.

Tasty Asheville beers!

There’s was a special treat waiting behind the bar, though, as Sierra Nevada’s Head Brewer Terrence Sullivan and Harry Wannemacher, NC Brand Rep/Distributor Extraordinaire, were in town serving up some tasting action of Sierra Nevada’s beers as well as their newest collaboration Abbey Ales.

So many options!!

I even convinced my beer-hating mom to try Sierra Nevada’s flagship Pale Ale (though after that, she booked it for more shopping.)

(Thanks to a less than professional photographer, you can't see too much of us.)

After she left, though, that’s when the recognition of my fellow Beer People came into play. I love to be surrounded by folks who get as fired up over things like Collaboration Ales and Randalization as I do. Bruisin’ Ales was chock full of them. I watched one man fill up two baskets with different beers, dropping over $150 on craft beer. He mentioned he stopped by every time he drove through Asheville, and lived about 800 miles away!  Other folks were scanning through the aisles, trying to find that elusive rare brew that they knew they could only find on one of Bruisin’ Ales’ numerous shelves.

I spent most of my time by the tasting, chatting up the fellows of Sierra Nevada. We swapped stories of our first sip of a sour ale, I explained the glory of Girls’ Pint Out to them, and they were more than impressed with the tale of Fullsteam’s Sean Wilson chugging a 4-year old Miller Chill (by “impressed”, I think I mean disgusted. To-may-toe, to-mah-toe.)

Harry and Terrence called this a Jordan Sandwich

The beers were delicious (my favorite was probably the rich, dark Ovila Quad), but the company was even more delightful. I laughed with strangers, I toasted the possibility of Sierra Nevada setting up an East coast Headquarters in Asheville (YAY!! NC is Beer Country, baby!) and relished in my new-found Beer People buddies.

I love the vibe of Bruisin’ Ales. I love the fact that you can get a beer to drink while you shop the store, and I love their festive decorations.

Merry merry

If you’re in the Asheville area and you’re a fellow Beer Person, get yourself to Bruisin’ Ales.

And if you’re Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, get yourself to Asheville, NC.

And if you’re a jolly monk, get yourself to my apartment, because we complement each other quite nicely.

Monks of a feather flock together.

Who are your “beer people”?