we love rick’s

Rick’s on Main.  It’s fantastic.  We LOVE it.  We’ve been three times since “moving” here, which averages out to about once a month.  It’s certainly a splurge, but it’s so worth it.  The food really is THAT good, and you cannot beat the atmosphere, especially if you sit outside (like we did) on a nice night.  We were celebrating the meeting of my weight-loss goal and me going back to school.  And we won’t have many more chances to sit outside around here, as the weather will cool off in less than a month…

We started out the evening on a mission: to take a new photo for my blog “gravatar,” which is the photo of me you see on the right.  So, I got all dolled-up (Rick’s is nice, so I would have dressed up anyway, but I pulled out all the stops thinking my image last night might be posted on the internet for the world to see) and we started by taking some shots in Andrew’s parents; yard before leaving.

This is the best photo we got, and I wasn’t even smiling!  Drat.  Better luck next time.  The lighting just wasn’t right.

We arrived at Rick’s and got a table outside.  The temperature was in the upper 70s and beautiful.  I ordered a glass of the Concannon Chardonnay, which the server said was only slightly dry, buttery with oak-y undertones.  The last time I was at Rick’s I got a glass of the Lotus Chardonnay, which is crisper and fruiter.  While I’m no wine expert, or even very knowledgeable for that matter, it was neat to taste a difference between the fruity, crisp wines I normally drink and the Concannon.  It was incredibly smooth, and, well, buttery.  It lacked the “bite” I’m used to, and I think I learned that I do prefer the crisper, fruitier wines.  Next time:  Lotus!

To start, we split the Pepper and Onion Stack.  It was a fried yellow bell pepper bottom, topped with a fried poblano pepper ring (middle), topped with a fried onion ring.  All this sat on tomatoes and fresh mozzarella drizzled with a balsamic reduction, which I ate most of.  YUM.  Inventive yet tame enough for Andrew.

We also split the Fall Creek Salad, which was Andrew’s choice.  It was full of blueberries, strawberries, mandarin oranges and dried cranberries.  My half also had feta, and this was served with three tiny wontons filled with cream cheese.

For dinner Andrew ordered the Espresso-dusted tenderloin, topped with fried shitake mushroom strips and sweet potato fries.  I love that he likes sweet potato fries.

I was in the mood for salmon (I usually am at nice restaurants) and ordered the wild Coho salmon with yellow tomato and olive “relish”, atop a creamy garlic and asparagus risotto.  INCREDIBLE.  After our appetizer and salad, I wasn’t very hungry anymore (grrr), so I took much of this home.  And the salmon fillet was GIANT.  So, I’m looking forward to that for dinner tonight!

After dinner I was thinking about ice cream (Andrew had mentioned it earlier), why I’m not sure since I was FULL TO THE BRIM.  Seriously, what is wrong with me??  Thankfully, Fowler’s is on their fall hours now, so they weren’t open, and Andrew suggested we walk to Taste for some late-night tea and coffee.  He got a latte and I enjoyed a cup of warm ginger peach tea.

The jacket above is one of my best Goodwill finds; a Gap almost-brand-new navy blue blazer.  LOVE IT.

my new favorite breakfast

maple/banana/nut butter toast!

Seriously, it is THE best.

I’m on a maple-kick right now, inspired both by my Justin’s Maple Almond Butter and the unopened maple spread that has been sitting in my pantry since last fall when Andrew and I spent a week in Quebec.

Get thee to a grocery store and find some maple spread as fast as you can!  It is THAT good.  You won’t find the specific brand I was using, but you might be able to find something like it, either with the maple syrups, honey or in the jam aisle.  Or in the specialty/gourmet/organic foods section.  And if you absolutely can’t find it, just drizzle some (real) maple syrup over the top.

Here’s what I did:

Toast a slice of whole grain bread, spread with your maple butter/spread/whatever you’re using, top with half a sliced banana, then drizzle with whatever nut butter you currently have open.  Almond butter isn’t as rich to me as some peanut butters and sunflower seed butter, so I find it pairs well with other things.  If you’re using syrup instead of maple butter, spread your nut butter on your warm toast, then add the banana and syrup.

I had this for breakfast two or three times and just raved to Andrew about it.  He’s Mr. Picky and rarely strays from plain jam on toast, so I was floored this morning when he requested this concoction for breakfast!  I called later to see how he liked it, and he said it was “outstanding.”  This is big, people.

my chemistry books cost HOW much!?!

$271.50 for a giant book, a solutions manual and an online access code to do homework.  Seriously.

That is, of course, ECC’s price.  So, I’ll be looking elsewhere for those and the rest of my books.  Unfortunately, I won’t have my labs or my psych class until later this week, so I think I’m going to have to do multiple orders online.  I already feel behind and it’s just the first day!

Going back to school has been a bit of an adventure already, and thankfully the butterflies in my stomach were only minimal this morning as I walked into class.

Back-to-school shopping, once a treasured, looked-forward-to event from my childhood, was (as I said earlier) anti-climactic at best last night.  At worst, it was a bit of an argument with Andrew and almost didn’t happen!  I don’t know why I left it for the last minute, but I did, and come on?  I’m almost 30; I didn’t want to make more out of it than I needed to, so I figured we’d pick up some paper and a binder at Target.  It’s not like they wouldn’t have them.

Well…  They didn’t.  The school section was pretty picked-over and Andrew (the almost perpetual student) is picky about his school supplies, and mine apparently.  He wasn’t happy with the selection and my out-of-practice, fighting anxiety self was along for the ride at this point.  We headed to Office Max.

Unfortunately, not every store in America keeps Target’s fantastic business hours, and when we arrived at Office Max, it was closed.  I was feeling pretty lousy at this point, thinking I might have to go to school with an empty backpack.

We headed to Wal-Mart.  I should add here two things:

1. Earlier in the day, Andrew suggested going to Wal-Mart for school supplies.

2. I responded, “I like to enjoy myself when I shop and Wal-Mart just ruins it for me,” or something to that affect.  Andrew laughed, out loud, called me a snob and said I should put that quote on the blog.

I walked into Wal-Mart that night, never quite so happy to be eating my words.  Thankfully, their school section was relatively impressive and only in mild disarray.  At least we went to the newer Wal-Mart in town.

Andrew schooled me (haha, get it?) in the art of school supplies.  He demanded I use notebooks and binders and proceeded to fill the cart with goodies.  I think I only picked out my assignment book, and since I asked his opinion about it, too, I really can’t take much credit for doing any of the school-supply shopping.  What would I do without my engineer?  I guess since he was his high school valedictorian and has THREE degrees to his name (all with minimal effort while typically achieving one of the highest, if not THE highest GPA in the class), it wouldn’t hurt to take his advice about school.  OK, that was pretty gratuitous bragging on Andrew, but I realized this morning I don’t do enough of it.  Love you honey and so glad you actually read my blog 🙂


I woke up this morning at the same time I normally do: 5:50-something. Between my internal clock and the dog, I rarely hear my alarm, which was set for 6:15.  I was supposed to be on the treadmill by 6:30, so I didn’t have time for my usual pre-run coffee.  For those who are runners, you know that this threw me off schedule.  Must get up earlier Wednesday; I love the solitude of my mornings and I’ll sacrifice a little sleep for some coffee, a chance to check the email and use the facilities.

Having packed Andrew’s lunch and my snack the night before, as well as my bookbag, all I had to do this morning was run, shower, make breakfasts and blog.  I had plenty of time for all of that, especially since I don’t have to leave until 8:30, a full 45 minutes after Andrew does.  Yet I felt rushed the whole time!  I blame it on nerves.  We’ll see how Wednesday goes.

On to class.  ECC’s South Campus, where I’m taking all my classes this semester, is less than 15 minutes away.  I arrived in plenty of time for my first class, CHEM 180, which is equivalent to CHEM 111, or university chemistry.  Believe it or not, I was actually good at chemistry in high school.  Seriously.  As in I got the highest grade in the class.  I know, right?  I barely believe it, too.  It was only because I had a fantastic teacher and I wanted to do well to impress him.  (Not in a crush kind of way, in a no-one-thinks-I-can-do-well-so-I’m-going-to-show-them kind of way.  Whatever works…)  So, I’m hoping to channel a little of that attitude this time around since the class is going to be CRAZY BUSY/HARD and the teacher seems awesome.  I’m definitely going to need to brush-up on the Periodic Table…I don’t remember a thing and there are practice problems and quizzes and homework assignments all over the place!

My Intro Bio class is next, in the same room (how convenient!) but it’s a whole other story.  The teacher is a short, old, VERY soft-spoken Indian man who seems nice but isn’t nearly as authoritative as he should be.  Especially since there were some loud teeny-boppers chattering away behind me… It was all I could do to not turn around and say something really snarky and rude (yet clever with an ‘older and wiser’ feel), except that I couldn’t think of anything and I’d be afraid they’d make fun of me for the rest of the semester, and that’s when I realized I’m just not cut out to make snarky, rude comments anyway.  But I seriously might say something in the future if they don’t keep it down; we can barely hear the man as it is!

Oh, and the drunk girl!  At least I think so.  Or I hope so.  She basically answered all the professor’s rhetorical questions, out loud, in a sleepy voice with majorly glazed-over eyes.  If that’s her normal behavior, this semester is going to be a long one.  But, I did kind-of make a friend.  I ended up chatting with a guy in front of me who is going to school to be a physical therapist (I think, or a personal trainer…).  He’s not right out of high school (but still much younger than I), so it was a breath of fresh air to talk to someone who didn’t look like they were in pain just being there.

Next up, and last for my Monday schedule, was Anatomy and Physiology.  The teacher is an older, gray-haired lady who obviously has a lot of experience teaching the subject.  She seems like the ‘tough love’ type; she threatened to take anyone’s cell phone she sees, yet included smiley-faces and “You can do this!” notes on her syllabus.  I liked her.  The class will be a lot of work, but it’s not terribly hard.  Mostly just memorization, and I’m interested in learning more about the body.  I mean, it’s my body–shouldn’t I know what the bones are actually called?  Shouldn’t we all, at least to some degree?

So, I’m both overwhelmed and uplifted.  It felt neat walking into school this morning wearing my (new!) backpack, taking my first steps toward something unknown and huge and exciting.  I’ve spent all afternoon scouring the internet for cheap textbooks, when all I really want to do is start reading them!

Andrew and I had planned to go to fancy-schmancy (I LOVE that word) dinner to celebrate my weight-loss and my going back to school, but it’s a bit windy here and our destination involves a table outside, so we’ll postpone that.  Instead, we’re heading to his parents’ house for pizza to celebrate something else: Carolyn got a job!  For those who don’t know, Carolyn is Andrew’s middle sister who got a degree in a teaching and has been unable to find an actual teaching position since graduating a couple years ago….  She’s done pre-school, she’s subbed, she’s worked at Gap and Ulta…  And finally, today, she was offered a teaching position!  The only downside?  It’s an hour away, in Olean.  Oh well, there could be worse things.

Hurray for big days for the both of us!