A note from the road…

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I’m on my way to NYC for the weekend and am ridiculously excited about this trip!  I haven’t been to the city in almost 6 years now.  Oddly enough, I’m staying with the same friend that I stayed with back in ’05.  Except now instead of sleeping in a dorm at Columbia, I get to stay in a new apartment in Midtown!  I really don’t even know what that means in terms of location within the city.  All I know is that I’m about 3 miles from the Central Park Zoo and may make a stop there as I’ve never been.

 Just wanted to give a quick update while on the road here.  Thanks to VaMoose, I’m being shuttled via bus to New York for only $60 round trip!  It’s a traditional tour bus and is much nicer than the school bus (not the yellow kind…simply a school-sponsored bus that must’ve been from the 1970s) than I took on my last trip up.  Plus it has free wi-fi…awesome perk!

 I’m going to enjoy the free time and catch up on some reading and scenery.  I’m in Jersey now, about an hour or so left in the trip. See ya from the city!

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I Feel the Earth Move, Under My Feet…

 

Yesterday provided some unexpected excitement thanks to a 5.8 earthquake in Virginia that resonated up to DC and beyond.  I was on a conference call at work when the shaking began, and it was quite surreal to question the participants (though they were in Pennsylvania and Maine) and my co-workers around me, “Are we in an earthquake?”  I never thought I would experience one, and never really wanted to, but Mother Nature laughed at that idea. 

We evacuated quickly (amazingly, myself and others from the 8th floor seemed to be the first ones out of the building even though we took the stairs) and spent 20 minutes outside in a large soccer field away from buildings.

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I seem to have a way with being evacuated from buildings.

Anyway, I’m fine.  Everyone was fine, just a tad spooked.  The strangest thing was that I felt like I was on a cruise ship after I got back inside the building and seemed to keep rocking for a couple hours after it happened. 

I’m off to Maryland for meetings today!  Happy Hump Day, and hopefully nature doesn’t send anymore surprises our way.

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Q: What’s the Best Way to Make Phillies Fans Sit Down and Be Quiet?

A:  Easy.  Hit a home run to tie the game in the 9th inning with 2 outs and 2 strikes on the board.  Then, go on to win the game in the 10th inning by a walk-off run, with bases loaded. 

The silence was deafening when this happened and it was glorious.

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I experienced a lot of firsts today!  First major league baseball game other than my home team, first time seeing National League teams play, first time experiencing a rain delay, and the first time experiencing a Philadelphia team in person.

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Nationals Park attendees were  90% Phillies fans and 10% Nationals fans today.  How this is possible, I have no idea.  I guess a lot of fans drive down from Pennsylvania for weekend games, and DC surely has a strong Philadelphia community, but I was still pretty shocked by how few Nationals fans attended.  Even though the team isn’t the best this year, the stadium is beautiful and has fantastic burgers at a concession stand called Shake Shack.  Those two facts alone should bring more people out, in my opinion.

More times than necessary, a roaring chant of “Let’s Go, Phillies!” erupted in the stadium which led me to pinch myself and make sure that I was still in the nation’s capital.  I think the City of Absurdly Fanatical Love is a more apt nickname for Philadelphia.

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It’s fun to have a new home team to root for.  I’ve got the Rays, Durham Bulls (for minor league), and now the Nats on my list to cheer on.

Some things that made me like the Nationals right away:

- They don’t have rude fans.

- There is a President’s Race during the game when past presidents are resurrected with humongous heads and race around the bases (see above picture).  It’s hysterical.

- An awesome saxophonist played the national anthem and “God Bless America” today — such a great musician and more unique than a singer!

- There are some darn good ball players on the team:  Morse, Zimmerman, Desmond, and Espinosa were my favorites.

- They won!  Maybe I was a good luck charm?

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Q:  What’s sweeter in life than beating the Phillies?

A:  Not much.

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So It’s Been Awhile…

 

I’ve gone yet another absurdly long time without updating.  Here’s a brief look into what’s happened the past two months.  I…

  • moved to a new city
  • found a new place to live
  • went from having zero roommates to having four
  • started a new job in a new industry
  • started having a social life again

It’s hard to believe that it is mid-August already!  The summer is flying by, and I really think that this is the first summer that I have completely enjoyed.  Yes, it’s been ungodly hot at times and my legs look like I have the chickenpox (they must smell like buttah to mosquitoes), but in all, I’ve absolutely loved it.  I think being in a new place and having much more of a life-work balance has really helped. 

To help extend the summer in your mind and belly, I want to share a little recipe that I’ve enjoyed 4 or 5 times so far this season.  Amazingly, I’m not sick of it.  But it’s hard to grow tired of this Raw Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad when it showcases two of the best foods of summer.

It’s delicious on it’s own as a side, or put it on top of leafy greens (such as arugula) for a light lunch.

The key to this simple dish is to use very fresh ingredients, and I really recommend buying locally if possible (such as at a farmer’s market).  If you use any old regular store-bought tomatoes or corn, you will be missing out on the flavor.  Trust me.  Enjoy this season’s bounty!

 

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Raw Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad
Serves 10 to 12 as a side dish

6 ears of sweet corn

2 large heirloom tomatoes

4oz. feta cheese

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

6 basil leaves

salt and pepper to taste

fresh squeeze of lemon juice

 

1. Set up a garbage bowl or bag in the sink.  Yes, just like Rachael Ray does every time she cooks.  (Side note, but you can actually buy a “Garbage Bowl” from the Rachael Ray collection…ridiculous.)

Anyway, you will want this nearby for the next step…

2. Shuck the ears of corn and remove as many of the annoying silk strings as possible.  If you bought your corn locally as I did, you may have some “ugly duckling” kernels, as I like to call them.  Carefully remove with a knife, and rinse all ears. 

3. Place one ear of corn in a large bowl, and slowly shave off all the kernels down one side.  Rotate the ear, and repeat until all kernels are removed.  Repeat the process for remaining ears of corn.  Your trash bowl or bag should now look like this:

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Thank you, Rachael.

3. Prepare the rest of the ingredients:  Chop the tomatoes, chiffonade the basil leaves, and crumble the feta into small-to-medium sized pieces.  Add and gently combine everything into the bowl with the corn.

4.  Drizzle the olive oil on top and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Lastly, spritz the juice of half a lemon over the dish.  Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge until ready to eat.  Enjoy!

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Buehler?……Buehler?

I woke up at an ungodly hour to put in a few miles in honor of National Running Day!  My injury has been much better the past couple weeks, so I felt safe running a little.  My trail of choice for a 6am run was the Al Buehler cross-country trail that surrounds the Washington Duke Inn on Duke’s west campus.  My car was one of two when I got there a little before sunrise, and when I left 45 minutes later, there was a line to find a parking spot.  Obviously, it’s the place to be!  Probably because it’s supposed to get up to 98 degrees today (seems like Durham has confused itself with south Florida) and running at 6am provided the best temperature option.

The trail itself is great, with scenic views of the WaDu’s golf course.  However, there are a few hills that no matter how many times I run them, I will always mutter certain 4-letter words under my breath because they are HORRIBLE.  I walked them all today, and even still, they’re a bit ridiculous.  But, among the soft sunlight and chirping birds, I had a very peaceful run.  

Go outside and get a run or walk in today!  Or, read through the list of 10 Ways to Celebrate National Running Day and do the one that’s best for you.  It’ll make you feel good!

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Doughman is My Homeboy

I am officially one satisfied Doughman volunteer.  The race went off according to schedule on Saturday morning (Mother Nature cooperated!) and I was lucky enough to be stationed at the VIP tent, which was right in the middle of all the action!

From the start line…

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…to the food tables…

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…to the super heroes and hospital patients having gown issues…

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…I saw it all.

I spent my morning serving corndogs, vegetarian tamales, vegan spaghetti and meatballs, lamb sloppy joes, cupcakes, brownies, bread pudding, and popsicles to the VIPs.  And they started eating all this at 8am.  

Not my cup of tea, but hey, Doughman only comes once a year.  The VIPs were smart and bought tickets so they could not only watch the racers, but also eat while the racers ate.  Very cool.

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Here are some of the eats:

CorndogsHuge corndogs from Dain’s Place.  Racers ate a full one, not half.  And a fun fact:  Dain and his team are the founders of The Doughman!

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Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs from Four Square….as in spaghetti squash, quinoa meatballs, and a tomato salsa sauce.  Really yummy.

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Hello, Gorgeous!  A variety of cupcakes from Nosh and Daisy Cakes.

The foods I missed pictures of were Six Plates’ famous Lamby Joe Sliders, a tamale from Dos Perros, bread pudding from Piedmont, and gourmet popsicles from Locopops.  All in all, a fabulous showing of all the foodie offerings in Durham!

And the best part about volunteering?

Attending the banquet Saturday night that featured even more local restaurants, breweries, and food trucks!  Talk about heaven in a parking lot.

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My favorite items for the night were both from Four Square — a watermelon slice topped with arugula salad and a white bean ratatouille.  (I think that means that I should visit the restaurant soon as I also loved their vegan meatballs from the race!).  All that finished off with a Summer Basil Farmhouse Ale from Fullsteam Brewery (which uses basil from local farmers!) led to a very happy belly.

I think I’m still digesting.  See ya next year, Doughman.

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**If you’re interested in dough-nating to The Doughman, there is still time to do so!  Just click this link, and then on the orange button that says, “Dough-Nate.”  Your money will go to two local charities that help keep kids busy after school by teaching them how to grow an inner-city garden (SEEDS) or design works of art (Seesaw Studio)!

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SatDOUGHday

It’s Doughman day!  The Doughman is an annual charity eating/exercise quadrathlon that brings smiles to the faces of everyone in Downtown Durham.  It is a ridiculously fun day — filled with teams dressed in silly costumes, stuffing local delicacies down their faces and then running, biking, or swimming different portions of the race.  Eating comes before exercise, so the #1 rule in The Doughman is:  DO NOT THROW UP.  If you do, you are disqualified.

I competed last year, and my team and I dressed as Richard Simmons.  We actually won the Best Costume award out of 70 teams!

 

This year, I am volunteering instead due to an injury that’s keeping me out of the race.  But, it will still be fun to see all the teams and be in the midst of the competition.

Have a great SatDOUGHday, and if you want to donate to the causes (two awesome local charities:  SEEDS and See Saw Studios), here’s where you can do so:  http://www.seedsnc.org/.

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