Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Recap and Some Suggestions

You know that oh-so-wonderous and delightful feeling of having absolutely nothing to do? The type where you crawl into bed in the middle of the day, lay your head down on the pillow and just think to yourself, wow...I am totally caught up on everything...there is nothing I need to do right now, or all day...I can just lie here without a care in the world for as long as I want...

Psych. That never happens in college, are you kidding me? But, sometimes, despite the to-do list that will exist for eternity, I still get in bed in the middle of the day, think all of the above thoughts, and pretend like they're true. This Saturday was a perfect example of one of those times. I really didn't have much to do, little enough actually to totally justify my everlasting afternoon rest, as it was direly needed. After waking up at 7 a.m. for like the 17th day in a row (literally, y'all...) to run in the Race for the Cure, I returned home, stayed vertical long enough to shower and fold laundry, and then cozied up in bed...from about 10 until about 6. Coooool. It really was though.

Then I managed to reveal myself to the world in order to share dinner with the Benjamin and then head to the Ice Chalet for some skating shenanigans with him, Nat, and our friend Will. It was crazy fun. A little cold, yes, but crazy fun. I mean I haven't laughed that hard in a really long time, and it was so wonderful to be able to let loose and be goofy. After all, anyone who can honestly take themself seriously when ice skating is...well, taking themself too seriously.

There's those silly boys trying to skate backwards...apparently "it's all in the hips" (according to the expert dude making his rounds). Telling a boy that something is "all in the hips" just results in a series of hilarious failed trials where the only accomplishment is looking quite ridiculous. Good times, though. Good times.

Now, before I go, there are two suggestions I just have to share. Firstly, for all you Knoxville folk, the Benjamin and I ate at Hard Knox Pizzeria in Western Plaza on Friday night, and it was delicious. Incredibly authentic pizza (but better than any I had in Italy) and a really relaxed local atmosphere. I was so impressed by my simple, fresh mozzerella with red sauce pizza, and the Benjamin's caramelized garlic and salami with white sauce choice was incredible as well. I will definitely be back, and hope others will give it a shot too!

Secondly, for all you It's a Wonderful Life lovers out there, I watched a movie in history class today that was very similar and almost as good. We watched American Madness, a film also by Frank Capra (the director of It's a Wonderful Life), who I'm thinking could be my new favorite film-maker...not that I've ever really considered who that would be anyway. Regardless, if you're ever in the mood for an old black and white film that will totally lift your spirits and just make you smile from ear to ear, try to get your hands on American Madness. It's basically a story similar to It's a Wonderful Life but set about a decade earlier, at the onset of the depression. I know how we love our color these days, but I'm telling you, this is one of my new favorites!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hold Up.

Hey Alabama. Congratulations. You barely squeaked out a win over a non-ranked team. Please continue your celebrations and revel in your glory. And enjoy falling out of the number one spot come Monday. Because I love my team...but if we almost beat you, we who were 3 and 3, there is no way you are deserving of a national title.

And you cheated. But what's new?

Roll tide, huh? Psh...

That is all.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I'd probably have to label fall as my favorite season for several reasons: brisk temperatures, beautiful leaves, the resurrection of football season, a parade of pumpkin-inspired baked goods, that tinkling that the holidays are just around the corner...and oh yes, we must not forget the glorious collegiate invention of fall break. Sure it's only an extra two days off from classes...and sure the vacation always seems to fall right smack in the middle of mid-terms, but sometimes just a short leave is all you need, and a nice long weekend as such certainly lends itself to the opportunity for one of my all-time favorite activities: the weekend trip.

I live in a fairly fortunate location, surrounded by many an interesting city, all less than three hours away. Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta...I enjoy them all, and I only wish I had the time and money to visit each of them more often. This fall break the fam, the Benjamin, and I finally made it to one of my favorite mountain towns, Asheville. I'm not really a fan of the intense hippie scene frolicking through the streets of the city, but the mountains, the shopping, and oh yes, the food provide plenty of reason enough to wander across the North Carolina border every couple of years.

We departed on our journey with only a few goals: take in some mountain scenery with a leisurely hike, stroll through downtown Asheville and its many local shops, and let's not forget the Beal family's continuous commitment to stuffing ourselves silly with delicious delicacies whenever we travel. Despite the dreary, drizzly drive on Friday and the sudden onset of frigid temperatures come Saturday, I'd say our little outing was quite successful...especially in the eating department...I may never need to do it again.

We somehow stumbled upon an absolutely perfect hike for Friday, suitable for all parties involved. It was a triple-waterfall-wonder in Dupont State Forest...and it was only about 3 miles roundtrip...which was good for my mom and my own ADD when it comes to endless mountain treks.

There's somewhat dinky waterfall number one...Hooker Falls I believe? We saw better, no worries, but I also enjoyed the struggling "Hey Ben, let me on your back" picture, so I thought I'd share.

That's more like it, eh? Triple Falls, it's called, and I was so not expecting such a was huge! Even my poor little outdated and so not-up-to-par camera got a postcard-worthy shot. I was thrilled...

And last but not least came the big daddy of the three: appropriately named, High Falls. You can't really tell from the picture but it was giant. We trekked down to the bottom of the falls and had to put our hoods up because there was so much mist. Not gonna lie...kinda felt like I was at Niagara...

So yeah...hiking is great and gorgeous and the rest, but let's get to the real deal: the food. I am a die-hard travel foodie. I choose cities for the restaurants and spend countless hours perusing menus in the weeks leading up to departure. My devout devotion to and love of Disney World has firm foundations in the Dining Plan option and all the delicious food the parks have to offer. Asheville definitely did not disappoint when it came to the dining department. Here's a look into where we ate...I highly recommend all of them:

Corner Kitchen...So homey, so cute, so good! Tucked away into a sweet old house in Biltmore Village, I thought this place was so authentic. The dinner menu changes weekly, so there's bound to be a new tasty option every time you go. We sat at a big table right across from the open kitchen, and it just felt like I was at home with a gourmet chef cooking for me. I had wahoo (fish) with a macadamia nut pesto and grilled pineapple salsa. Then for dessert the Benjamin and I split some white chocolate bread pudding...all of it was delish!

Tupelo Honey Cafe...We had lunch here Saturday, and needless to say I stuffed my face. This place is located in the heart of downtown Asheville, and it is quite popular, so expect a wait. We started with fried green tomatoes and fried cheese grit cakes...Southern cooking at its best. I ordered a grilled cheese with tomato soup...classic flavors but super good. No dessert this time...we found a yummy cookie shop instead.

Rezaz...Ok. Y'all. This place is to die for. I mean probably one of the best meals I've ever had. First we had a round of bread and olive oil that totally reminded me of Greece. Then I had a trio of dips as an appetizer: hummus, babaganoush, and muhamara (a red pepper dip with walnut and pomegranate juice). Sounds weird, but soo good. Next up it was sweet potato gnocchi with a parmesan cream sauce and balsamic reduction. And finally, a dark chocolate torte with vanilla ice cream. It was all amazing. I wanna go back. Tomorrow.

Sorry this post is an eternal one. Just had a lot I wanted to share! It was a wonderful weekend and I was not excited about starting back up to school this week...but I got through it somehow. The plan for this weekend? Catch up on sleep! It's a necessity folks...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wouldn't It Be Nice...

If I was only allowed to watch one television show for the rest of my would without a doubt be Friends. I was never a big fan when the series actually aired on NBC, but since my roomie introduced me to the wonders of TV on DVD freshman year, I have been hooked. Freshman year in the dorms, little Geouque had all the seasons, so I had free access to any and every episode. Last year in Laurel, little Mims had all the seasons, so again I could borrow any disc any time I wanted. This year, I was not so fortunate to have a fellow Friends fanatic to offer me complete reign over the entire series. Don't worry though, leave it to the Benjamin to come to my rescue. After only a week or two of complaining, he presents me with an early birthday gift: yes, it's true, all ten seasons of Friends. Life is good.

Well, we've been watching Season 5 recently (one of my favorites...I love watching the Monica-Chandler relationship unfold in all its secrecy and scandal). Last night, the Benjamin came over and we watched "The One With the Ball." It's pretty great, as are all of the episodes in my opinion, but this one kind of got me thinking...wouldn't it be nice to live like they do on Friends? I mean think about it...somehow you have enough time to spend several hours a day just sitting around the cutest coffee shop I've ever seen...and somehow all your friends have the time to do just the same alongside you. I guess you do go to work, but let's review your career options: you could be a chef (like Monica), you could work for freaking Ralph Lauren (like Rachel), you could be a television actor (like Joey), or you could be a masseuse (like Phoebe)...and let's be honest, none of them seem to be doing much in the way of working anyway.

You would live in a sweet apartment in the middle of New York City, and all of your best friends live either in your same apartment or the one across the hall. And don't worry, rent never seems to be a problem, so money must be good.

But back to this endless amount of time deal...yeah, if you're familiar with the episode I mentioned above, you would know that the whole storyline revolves around a game of catch begun by Ross and Joey, which continues for an entire day. I only wish I had enough time in life to just stop everything and try to set a record for throwing and catching a ball without it hitting the ground. It'd be nice, huh? Yep...

So that's my enticing thought of the day for everyone. Now I must get back to the pile of reading and studying sitting next to me on my desk. Perhaps in about 7 years I'll get to that whole ball-throwing thing.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy Birthday! Love, The Dragon...

Happy 21st to the Benjamin! He's all grown up now...kind of scary I must admit. Mainly on account of the fact that I myself will be hitting real-life adulthood in only two months from now. Weird. Strange. I don't like it.

Regardless of my fear of growing up however, I still had to help the Benjamin celebrate his special day! We had a nice line-up of events planned...some of which worked out great, others...well, not so much. There's still more to come, though! Allow me to explain...

Breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, unless you count dessert as a meal that is, in which case breakfast would definitely round in at a close second. But still, a big, yummy, calorie-filled morning meal is my favorite. Thankfully, the Benjamin agrees, so I thought I'd make him a nice breakfast for his b-day this morning. It was quite delicious, too. As a tribute to manlihood in general, I chose a Cheese and Sausage Breakfast Casserole to start. It was almost too manly for myself, but he loved it, and that's all that matters. Came out looking tasty, though...

And I always find it necessary to address the fact that completely dessert-esque sweets are totally acceptable when it comes to breakfast food, which is where these super-easy and super-delicious canned biscuit donuts come in...

Just fry them up, toss in some powdered sugar, and add to a heaping plate of pure greasy protein, and you have one happy camper...

I made him do the cheesy thumbs-up deal...don't judge. So, wonderful, part one of birthday celebration festivities complete. Part two? Well, it was supposed to be a lovely fall hike through the mountains of western North Carolina. That is, until we encountered The Dragon...

Ok, so I've heard of this...The Dragon...a.k.a. the most deathly stretch of road in like the entire United States. It is indeed 318 curves in 11 miles...though it seems like so much more than 11 miles, my goodness. Well, we were just cruising along, following the Mapquest directions, looking forward to our leisurely stroll through brisk temperatures and gorgeous leaves, when bam, vomit-fest in the rain begins. And then continues to proceed for like half an hour. Wow, I have never been so carsick in my life, and I'm not sure the Benjamin's sweet little Civic has ever been so nervous and exhausted in his life either. It was quite intense.

We did survive, thank goodness (which the Benjamin really wanted to commemorate with a tourist-trap t-shirt, but I was too nauseas to agree). Unfortunately, though, at this point we were both kind of dreading hiking 6.8 miles and then having to re-visit The Dragon. Add that lack of enthusiasm to our terribly difficult time finding the trail head, and well, you can guess what hike in the cards for today.

We did suck it up and keep going long enough to at least run into Fontana Dam, the second largest dam in the country, behind Hoover of course. We both donned our most positive (and nerdy) faces and actually had a great time just exploring the dam and surrounding lake area. We took some fun pictures, ooed and ahhed over the beautiful views, and even had some spitting contests off the side of the dam before calling it a day.

You know what? I'm pretty sure 6.8 miles would have put me in a bad mood anyway. Especially since I so ingeniously left my packed lunch sitting on the counter this morning. Oops! We conquered the dragon a second time, avoiding all of these whipping around the switchbacks...

...and now here I am about to go meet the Benjamin for a birthday dinner at Naples! And we can't forget cake time creation is turning out to be pretty ridiculous. More pics of that to come!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Did Someone Push Fast Forward?

I was just talking with my roomie about how quickly this semester was flying by. I mean seriously, next week is midterms. We are already halfway done. Y'all. I feel like I'm still getting used to my routine! I truly believe I'm moving in fast forward mode.

I haven't shared any of my own pictures lately, mainly because I'm lazy and don't want to wait for them to upload. But, seeing as how this semester will be over before I even know it, I thought it necessary to show some real life evidence of what's been going on...
**Warning: these go way back...or at least that's how it seems...

There's a look at my bed and sweet cross collage hanging above. I've been meaning to post some pics of my room...unfortunately that didn't happen until two months after I started living in it...

That's me and Geouque over Labor Day weekend in Charleston! We're atop a cannon replica out on the Battery. It was such a wonderful trip...primarily thanks to the food I inhaled on a daily basis.

Thursday nights in apartment 307 have been officially designated "Office Nights." We invite some friends over to watch the show, pick a food theme, and get cooking...which usually results in an amount of food tremendously too large for the number of people present. This is my pesto pizza I made the first Thursday of the season...whole wheat crust, basil pesto, fresh tomato, and fresh mozzarella...yum yum!

I've started doing some morning swim routines at the indoor pool before class this semester. I try to make it once a week, and surprisingly, despite the 6 a.m. wake-up time, I've held to it thus far. It's really quite peaceful and so nice to get my work-out done so early in the day. I also love the gift of seeing the sunrise over campus as I walk out to my car when I'm finished. I took this one morning because it was so calming and beautiful I just couldn't resist!

Last weekend the fam was in Kingsport for a soccer tournament and I volunteered to stay at home and watch Lucky to save boarding money. The Benjamin came to keep me company and even got in a little spooning time with the Luckster himself. I'm just obsessed with this picture...aren't they both precious? :)

There's the Benjamin and me at the Tennessee-Auburn game last night! We had terrific seats...section D, row 4! Unfortunately, the game was a blow and the surrounding fans were annoyingly distracting and obnoxious...for a variety of reasons. This was before the game started though, so we were still all smiles.

Lawhead and Haley made a sweet sign for Nick Reveiz, an injured player who used to play at Farragut, so we felt the need to show some recognition. Fortunately, this sign + good seats up close + ESPN cameras nearby = an ESPN appearance for ME!! I haven't actually seen the recorded show yet, but Lawhead watched it last night and took a picture of the tv when we were on. I saw it on his twitpic this morning and could totally make out my face, despite the distortion. It was pretty exciting!

So there you have it...a little tour of life so far this semester. I hope to have lots of fun fall pictures and stories to share very soon! If only this constant rain and huge to-do list for school would stop preventing that from happening...happy weeks to everyone!