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On the Open Road

>> June 30, 2013

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I started a little road trip with my brother. It was a cross-country trip from Arizona to Georgia, and so far I've only told you about our time in Arizona! Whew.

Anywho, picking up where we left off. We finished our long day at the Grand Canyon with dinner and drinks and the historic El Tovar hotel inside the park. The next day, we were up bright and early to head out again...our goal was to make it to Santa Rosa, New Mexico with a quick stop over in Petrified Forest National Park. Unfortunately, the Petrified Forest was at a bit of a disadvantage. The day before we were in the Grand Canyon which was stunning, and absolutely incredible. By the time we made it to the Petrified Forest we were like "is this it"? While it was great to get a few more stamps in my passport and check that off the "to-do list", needless to say we were happy to get back in the car and get to our final destination. 

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If I could sum up our experience in New Mexico in one word it would be "weird". It was definitely an interesting place caught between the glory days of Route 66 and, well...somewhere else. I've heard great things about Albuquerque, but we were only passing through so we didn't see much while we were there. Finally, we made it to our hotel and checked in long enough to relax for a little bit and head back out for dinner.  Restaurant options in Santa Rosa, NM were slim...we asked the guy at the front desk for suggestions. Enthusiastically, he said "I always suggest the Route 66 diner, OH and it's Burger Thursday"! I thought, well...when in Rome, right? We were right in the thick of old Route 66 and we could take a trip back in time, plus burgers...I can dig a good burger. Needless to say, if you ever find yourself in the area I would implore you to try a different option. Our little diner should have gone away with the Route 66 travelers of old. I digress.
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It was up and At em' bright and early again the next day. Well sort of. We were 20 minutes outside of Santa Rosa when we realized that we forgot to fuel up so we decided to turn around because we weren't sure when we would see another gas station. So after a short detour, we were on the road again and headed for Amarillo. We weren't scheduled to stop in Amarillo, but I was interested in seeing the Cadillac Ranch on our way through town. It certainly was interesting and weird...but I did say that I was looking for Americana and well, I found it. We didn't stop, but it wouldn't take more than a quick pit stop on the side of the highway. Then it was onward to Oklahoma City and the Stockyards! After breezing through OK City and stopping for a quick lunch is was on to Van Buren Arkansas. Today was our longest driving day, and we clocked a total of 600 miles in one day...whew! There wasn't much to note about Van Buren aside from the fact that it was in a dry county and apparently that have large baseball tourney's there.

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Again, after a long day it was up bright and early the next morning to hit the road. This time we were headed to Memphis, TN. Memphis was a short four hour drive (lol) and since we were up pretty early, we rolled into town around 11am-ish. Neither of us had ever been to Memphis, so we did what any good Southerner would do...we headed straight to one of their best BBQ spots to check out the 'Que. We ended up at Central BBQ and gah...let me just say it was nice to be back in the South. After several days of really bad food, it made their ribs taste that much better! No trip to Memphis would be complete without a stopover at Graceland, Beale Street, and drinks at the Peabody we did all three! After several days of straight driving, it was really fun to hang out with Elvis and slurp gigantic beers with twangy blues in the background. Good stuff all much so, that we didn't want to leave. We stayed for dinner and got to our hotel room late that night in Corinth MS.

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We were SO tired after spending the whole day in Memphis and getting in late. But alas, we were early risers again because we had another full day ahead of us. Today it was onwards to Shiloh National Military Park, we were both really excited about visiting this park. Will and I both love military history, and he especially has a wealth of knowledge about various Civil War battles and military tactics that were used. We arrived fairly early and opted for the driving tour around the park, it was amazing and I would love to do it again on a bike. It's unreal the amount of soldiers that fought and died there, I tried to imagine what it would have been like and it seems like it would have been just sheer chaos and terror. shudder. A word of advice about visiting the park: first; DO visit and second, give yourself plenty of time. We budgeted two hours in the park, we stayed for three and we still didn't see everything. 

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We actually intended to take an additional detour to drive on the Natchez Trace Parkway but couldn't because we spent too much time in at Shiloh. After leaving Shiloh, it was on to Decatur Alabama for a quick stop for lunch at legendary Big Bob Gibson's. We had several kinds of their 'Que, the best by far being the chicken with white bbq sauce and the pulled pork. So delicious that I didn't even snap a picture, I just grabbed one outside as we were leaving. Back on the road again, and we passed through Town Creek AL which is where our grandfather is from. It was cool seeing his little bitty town with it's one four way stop. #precious. After passing through Birmingham, we were in the home stretch. We rolled into Atlanta around 7 o'clock after a long day and an even longer trip. It was an amazing experience, I had so much fun exploring the country and I'm thankful for the quality time that I spent with my brother. I would do it again, in a heartbeat. 
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Sum-Sum-Summer time

>> June 5, 2013

I just love the beginning of Summer. There is something about the start of a new season, the excitement of things to come. The changing of seasonal produce, amazing foliage, new wardrobes, and dreams of wonderful new locales that lend themselves to the changing temperatures. So I guess I should say that I love the beginning of every's true, I really do. It's been an entire year since I've had good tomatoes, seen pretty sandals and smelled sweet jasmine...and I'm pretty stinkin' excited about it!

These last few weeks (in between the thunder storms) have been so wonderful! I always forget how amazing the sun and warmth feels on my skin, and every year on my first pool outing I think: "OMGAHHH this feels so good".  

Strawberries are also something to get excited about. They're so gorgeous and they're the perfect fruit to usher Summer into season. Two weeks ago Josh and I managed to hand pick and cart off two gallons of fresh strawberries from a local farm. They're my most favorite strawberries, and I had about a zillion recipes that I wanted to make with these little babies. This past weekend I was tasked with bringing dessert to a dinner with some friends and I had the worst time deciding what to make! 

Finally, I decided on these little sammich's! They're so super simple and require no cooking whatsoever...which also lends itself to the recent rising temperatures. We enjoyed these so much with our friends and I hope you guys do too!

Do you have any favorite summer traditions? 

Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 Half Gallon Vanilla Ice Cream, softened**
1 pint Strawberries, chopped
Graham Crackers, broken in half

Spread the chopped strawberries in the bottom of an 8x8 glass baking dish. Cover the strawberries with the softened ice cream (about an inch thick) and use an off-set spatula to even out the ice cream over the strawberries. Freeze the ice cream for at least 3 hours so that the ice cream re-sets and becomes firm again. 

Pull the ice cream out of the freezer and run warm water across the bottom of the baking pan to release the ice cream in one large sheet. Using the graham cracker halves as guides, cut the ice cream into blocks and sandwich between two graham cracker halves. Re-freeze the sandwiches, and keep them in the freezer until ready to serve. 



Seeking Americana

>> May 5, 2013

I got on a plane and flew 1,800 miles.  So that I could get in a car and drive back home. Is that weird? 

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I've always wanted to take that "classic" cross-country road trip, and only recently did the opportunity present itself. My brother spent four months training in southern Arizona and was on his way back home. He was planning on stuffing his little Honda Civic with (almost) everything he owned and driving back home to Georgia. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to spend some quality sibling time and see parts of the country that you only see as you're passing through onto your final destination. I think that's what I appreciate most about road trips...there are amazing places to see all across this country and none of which are destinations. 

With only five days to explore, we didn't meander as much as I would have liked but I still managed to cross a few items off of my bucket list. 

Since my flight landed pretty late, Will picked me up from the airport and we stayed the night in Phoenix. We needed to be well rested for the next day because we had the Grand Canyon on the itinerary!!  To say I was excited to see the Canyon is a smidge of an understatement. I have a mini obsession with the National Park system. It started when I saw Ken Burns' "America's Best Idea", it's a fantastic documentary about the history and creation of the National Parks should watch it if you have 720 minutes to spare. Sure it's kind of long, but it's worth every second. 

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We started our first day bright and early from Phoenix and headed North towards the Canyon via Sedona &  Red Rocks Scenic Biway. I was so taken by the landscape of Arizona, this was my first time here and the beauty of the desert is really incredible. It's so amazing how unique each state is in terms of it's landscape, weather, culture, etc. It's what road trips are really all about. As we drove through the desert we were in awe of the amazing colors, the rock formations, and especially the mesa's.

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Sedona was absolutely gorgeous, I'd love to go back and explore the little town and maybe slip in a spa treatment or two...or nine. Who's counting? Will decided to pull over at state park on our route to the Canyon and it ended up being a nice surprise. Sliding Rock State Park is a hidden gem! If you're brave, you can take a dip in the freezing cold water and take a spin on the natural rock slide formed by the bed of Oak Creek. 

Onward to the Canyon! I truly wasn't prepared for the beauty and immense size of the canyon. I know that sounds's called "Grand" for a reason. But still, it's hard to imagine something that big and you quickly realize how incredibly small we are. 

We chose to hike the South Kaibab trail, honestly for no other reason other than we thought it would be the least crowded and something we could handle given our short time in the park. It was stunningly beautiful, so amazing that we almost forgot that we were hiking downhill the entire way. Towards the bottom of the trail we were reminded by the hikers huffing and puffing that the return trip would be completely uphill. Yikes. Thew views make it worth it.

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After our hike, we ran around Grand Canyon Village collecting stamps for my passport and found a place to have dinner. Before dinner we were lucky enough to catch the sunset on the canyon, it's amazing how the colors become so vivid in the late afternoon light. Such amazing hue's of red, orange, and purple that are just breathtaking. We opted to end the first day of our trip at the historic El Tovar hotel. Which is fitting really, given that it was the very hotel that President Teddy Roosevelt frequented when he visited the park...the park that he created. We had a glass of wine by the roaring lobby fireplace followed by dinner in the main dining room. A pretty fantastic end to a pretty fantastic day. 


What I ate for dinner this week

>> February 24, 2013

I don't post here nearly enough, so I thought I might beef up the blog with a quick run down of our weekly din-din's. 

What do you think?

Simple and easy enough, just grilled bratwurst with a smattering of mustard and crispy cold sauerkraut. I picked up the sauerkraut at my local farmers market where they make it in-house, but the bagged kraut at the grocery store isn't too bad. Just make sure to avoid the canned stuff...ick!

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Charred Corn Salad. The chicken was literally as it sounds...marinated in a little lemon juice with olive oil and grilled. The corn salad was the highlight of this meal, my husband went back for seconds and I later caught him scraping the last bits out of the bowl. Needless to say, I'll be making this again soon. 
Thai Larb. I make variations of this same dish but this was my first time trying this particular recipe. We liked it, but I'll make some adjustments the next time around. I made it with ground turkey because it's what I had on hand, and I'll add chopped nuts for more texture. OH...and shortly after this photo was taken this was slathered in sriracha. Sriracha makes everything better...didn't you know?
Chips do not a meal make, and no...we didn't eat this for dinner. BUT these little chippies were a satisfying pre-dinner snack. Chicken + Waffles and Sriracha are two of the limited time Lays flavors that were submitted during their "Do Us A Flavor" contest. I think the Sriracha flavor has the best chances of winning, but they were both fun to try!

This is also not something we ate for dinner. I'm still getting used to remembering to take photos of what we eat before we dive in. However, this doughnut is notable because it haunts my dreams. No really. I have a difficult time articulating how wonderful it is. It's from a local doughnut shop in Atlanta called Dutch Monkey Doughnuts. If you're even remotely local, let me first say that it's way out in the burbs but I would still suggest paying them a visit. I'll never look at doughnuts the same way again. Their lemon meringue is my favorite with it's not-to-sweet lemon filling and wonderfully silky meringue topping. Ugh...I'm dying just typing about this. 

So that was a snapshot of what we had this week! Did you have a notable meal?


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