i miss ‘us’

That phrase was uttered by our good friend, Dave Diercks, this past weekend during our recent trip to Ohio.

And then it was seconded.  And thirded.  (Is that even a word?)

Anyway…  Here are some highlights from the trip!  (As usual, I didn’t take enough pictures…so I’ll do my best to describe how we used a door as a table, and my two-scoop ‘small’ sundae.

-We brought cupcakes!  I’m a huge fan of Firefly, the new artisan cupcake shop on Main Street here, and we wanted to gift Emily and Dan with goodies.  Since Emily and I are trying to be good and watch our calories, we decided we’d save our splurges for Graeter’s and Rita’s.  But, Dan and Andrew can indulge!  We brought a ‘chocolate-covered strawberry’ for Dan and a Vanilla Bean for Andrew.  The picture doesn’t do them justice…they’re packaged in their own little cellophane bags with the cute Firefly card on the front.

-As usual, we stopped at Chick-Fil-A in Erie for a late lunch.  I really had been craving CFA…I got a 2-strip kid’s meal with fries….

…and a small cookies and cream milkshake to drink!  I love them 🙂  Andrew actually did a decent number on the shake, so I probably ended up having only 3/4 or less of it anyway.

-While I was “setting up” my food in the car (I have a method), I realized it would make a perfect blog post.  “On how I eat in the car” coming soon.

-OK, here’s where the pictures begin to fail me…

-We made another stop near Dublin (skipping Jeni’s! A travesty!) for a Starbucks run for me.  Using the blessed iPhone, we found not one but TWO in grocery stores just feet away from where we were after taking the wrong exit off the highway… thank you, Jesus!  AND, the nice lady behind the counter was offering samples of their vanilla scones.  LOVE samples.

-We got into the Wilhelms’ around 8 p.m. and bounded into welcoming arms.  Within moments we were perched on the couch, debating the age-old question, “To where will we go for dinner?”  Silly us, we thought maybe we could quickly come up with a place with little conversation…  One thing we’ve realized is, the six of us (particularly the four Wilhelms and Layers) are PARTICULAR about our food.  And not necessarily in a bad way; we just really want to enjoy our meals, especially those together.

-The Wilhelms had been anxiously awaiting our arrival so we could go out for a nice, long, drawn-out dinner, which they’ve dubbed a “Layer dinner,” in honor of yours’ truly.  A “Layer dinner” is one in which you order drinks, then appetizers…and then shoo your waiter away and don’t order dinner until you’ve eaten said appetizer, and then you might even stay for dessert or coffee afterward.  They are infamous and can last upwards of two hours if you do it right.  Truthfully, these dinners started for us on or first trip to Europe, where people have long dinners all the time (in fact, often you have to flag your waiter down to even order your food, and they wouldn’t dream of rushing you out the door).  Now, if we have the time, we make it a point to stretch out our meals as often as we can.

-We almost unanimously voted for Thai 9, one of our favorite places to eat downtown, and got as gussied-up as our packed-clothes would allow.  We started with drinks (Belgian wheat for me, hard cider for Dan, cocktail for Emily and I can’t remember what Andrew had….) and appetizers.  Andrew and Dan split the chicken spring rolls and Emily and I split the crab rangoon–my mouth is watering just recounting the details!

-I LOVE going out to eat with Emily.  Our tastes are so similar, so we typical end up splitting one or more dishes.  This is something I can RARELY (if ever) do with Andrew, and it makes it so nice for me so I can enjoy multiple things on the menu.  I hate having to choose!  Emily and I wanted exactly the same things–pad thai and sushi–and that’s exactly what we got.

-Unfortunately, we were all too full by the end of dinner to splurge on Thai 9’s homemade coconut ice cream topped with fried banana pieces and honey (if you live in Dayton, you must order that as soon as possible), but it felt great to say “no, thanks” and leave without being over-stuffed.

-Emily and I are also early birds and exercisers, so we enjoyed a light breakfast the next morning while doing the first DVD session of our Bible study, before hitting up the workout room at their apartment complex.  Thirty minutes on the treadmill flies by when you have someone to whom to talk!  (Ain’t that the truth, Susy?!)

-The primary reason for the trip to Dayton (although who needs a ‘reason’ to visit friends?), was to meet little Aiden, Dave and Jen’s little boy who was born in January.  We arranged to meet them at Panera for brunch.  Isn’t he a cutie??

-After we ate (I splurged and got a cinnamon crunch bagel with honey walnut cream cheese–haven’t had one of those in YEARS–and smartly ate the top half and forced the bottom on Dan to prevent myself from eating it), Dave headed to his track meet and Andrew and Dan took Aiden home while Jen joined us for some shopping.

-We MADE OUT at TJMaxx!  M philosophy is that a true workout-aholic can never have too many items of workout clothes, and that is the place to go for a bargain.  I scored tons of awesome stuff, although the terrible overhead lighting washes everything out.  All of those colors are so vibrant–I couldn’t resist any of them!

-After bagging our finds at TJMaxx, us girls headed home to pick up the ‘two men and a baby’ we left behind and raced over to Dave’s track meet at Cedarville University.  Dave throws the javelin and is competing for a chance to go to the Olympic trials this summer.  He ended up scoring a 68-meter throw at this meet, which is just 10 meters shy of qualifying for a spot at the trials, and the most he’s even thrown in a season-opening meet.  Go Dave!  Check out his facebook page for more information; he’s also involved with Athletes in Action (a Christian organization geared toward outreach in the field of athletics) and is partially sponsored by PowerBar!

-It was pretty chilly, so we scooted out of there as soon as he was finished and headed back to chez Diercks, or as it’s affectionately called in our circle, ‘the cave.’   Seriously, between their huge comfy couches and lack of natural light in the living room, it’s very ‘cave-like’ in the coziest way possible.

-Yet again, we foolishly thought we could pick our dinner option from a hat…literally.  We all threw in names of various local establishments from which we could get take-out, and after turning our nose up at Chinese (what were you thinking, Dan??), a small contingent of us strong-armed the others into City BBQ.  Dave did what he does best and placed our order online while I arranged who was going where to pick up food; Emily and me to City BBQ (don’t forget the sweet tea!) and Andrew and Dave to Kroger for a rotisserie chicken and Cadbury mini-eggs.

-Upon arriving back to the Diercks’ lair, we found a door (yes, a DOOR) being placed on their oversized ottoman and topped with a shower curtain/tablecloth.  Don’t mind the handle, Emily…  If only I’d snapped a photo…

-We were all enjoying our food family-style with Ghostbusters on the in background, when it hit me.  These people are FAMILY to me.  Like, seriously family.  I mean, with whom else can you just sit and do nothing for hours on end, and it be totally fine?  (Especially if you’re in the cave.)  The six (now seven) of us have formed a bond like I’ve never had with anyone before, in particular in couples.  There are others with whom Andrew and I share this relationship (Heather and Silas, for sure) and I think that’s why God brought us to Ohio.  To make these lifelong friends.  (And to be near Andrew’s grandparents, but that’s another story.)

-By 8 p.m. Emily and I were getting a little stir-crazy and ready to walk around after dinner, so we convinced Jen to join us on another shopping trip–this one to Goodwill!  Beavercreek has the best Goodwill…there are NO good Goodwills here in NY…sad.  So, we left ‘three men and a baby’ to go stretch our legs.  I scored a pair of Gap trouser-jeans!

-We ended our night on a sweet note with a trip to Graeter’s, where I convinced the manager to give me two SMALL scoops (instead of only one) in my small sundae so I could have two different flavors.  LOVE. THEIR. WHIPPED. CREAM.

-The next morning, we all met at First Watch (one of my absolute favorite places!) for breakfast before church.  Again, Emily and I did our usual and split an omelet with pancakes on the side.

-Upon walking to our cars, Andrew and I realized we’d been fished!  I know I’ve blogged about it before, but haven’t the slightest clue as to when or under what title…  The short story: Dave and Jen own a giant stuffed fish and they (along with Emily and Dan) once hid it in our bed while we lived in Ohio.  It’s been traded back and forth between us three couples ever since.  The orange shirt it’s wearing?  It says “East Aurora” and was how I dressed it when I shipped it back to the Diercks after we moved here.  Gotta brainstorm its next trip to Ohio…this time to surprise the Wilhelms!

-Trader Joe’s is just across from First Watch… $86 later, we were stocked-up on goodies!  Favorites? LOVE their chocolate-covered almonds, sunflower seed butter and a new find, chocolate-ship brownie bars with oats.

-Before heading out of town, Andrew and I stopped into the nearest Graeter’s to redeem our ‘Sweet Rewards’ points for a t-shirt.  He always lets me choose.  What a sweetie.  Outside the doors, we met an Easter bunny!

-After meticulously choosing my shirt–I even made the young man behind the counter climb up and check the size of the one tacked to the wall–I settled for a child’s extra large (which was surprisingly big)  hoping it would shrink.

-We resisted the urge for more ice cream (well, I had to resist; I think Andrew has willpower of steel!) in favor of a stop at Rita’s on our way out of town.  I made the mistake of trying their new chocolate peanut butter flavor… (Back story: I grew up with Rita’s in PA and LOVE IT.  Mango is my ultimate favorite.  I try different flavors all the time, but mango is where it’s at.)  Anyway, I LOVED chocolate peanut butter and all of a sudden couldn’t choose!  It’s not like I could get one, knowing I could come back any time for mango.  Thankfully, Andrew opted for a large mango, which allowed me to order a chocolate peanut butter gelati–which features their vanilla custard.  I was in sugar heaven.

-We got on the road and had an enjoyable trip back to NY, filled with menu-planning and grocery-list making for me, (no Jeni’s AGAIN–we were too full of Rita’s!), a Wendy’s stop (apple slices for me, nuggets for him and a tiny Frosty to share) and then things went downhill.  Emily HAD to remind me I’d forgotten to take some of the dark chocolate-covered raisins off her hands…which led to a crazy craving!  We stopped at a gas station and ended up stocking up on Doritos, Swedish Fish (my favorite) and Hot Fries and an energy drink for Andrew.  And I might have gotten into the cookies Susy sent home with me…

-We drove straight to Wegmans since I knew our house was devoid of food.  Well, at least the fridge was. As in, EMPTY.  No fruit.  No yogurt.  No bread.  No nothing.  If we didn’t shop now, we’d have nothing for breakfast the next morning, and since I had to pick up the dog IN ADDITION to my normal routine, there wasn’t going to be any ‘going out for breakfast’ for us.

-$123 dollars later…

-We’re all settled back in at home now (we should be, it’s THURSDAY) and I can’t believe this post took me so long…  Notes to self:

-take more pictures!

-post along the way!

Here’s to next time 🙂

OAIJ x 2 …and other matters

Before I get too far (well, before I get anywhere at all), let me just tell you all how HORRIBLE I feel about not blogging in like, FOREVER.  It’s not that I’m wracked with guilt (except that I am), but I just enjoy blogging, and I miss it.  What can I say?  I’m a writer.  Alas, time is not my friend these days…  I honestly don’t know how Kath does it…three times a day!  I know her posts aren’t long or eloquent, but it still takes time to take, download and upload photos, in addition to writing a snippet here and there.  I find myself saying, “I don’t have time for (fill in the blank), and I don’t even have kids yet!”  Seriously, how does one fit them in?!?!  I suppose children are just like any other top-priority item; you just do.

All that to say, I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile.  No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth (although it sometimes feels like I have) and yes, it’s good to be back.

And, as usual, I have lots to say!

(I’ll use bullet points to avoid the number-conundrum…my OCD tendencies make it hard to end on anything other than 10.)

-Check out my Maple Syrup post for the co-op.  The maple-bacon cupcakes (muffins if you want to sound “healthier”) are the perfect brunch item and will send the eyeballs of everyone to whom you serve them rolling into the backs of their skulls.  Make them this weekend!

-We went to Ohio this weekend to visit our friends, Emily and Dan, and Dave and Jen, and their new baby, Aiden.  I also got to see Susy, another dear friend and running-mate.  We had a fabulous time, although I didn’t take enough pictures (I never do).  I’ll be posting about our trip soon.

-I’m officially on “Easter Break” right now.  Except that I still get up at 0-dark-30 to drink coffee/eat breakfast/workout.  And I have school work to finish.  In fact, I’m going to the chem tutor this morning.  Oh, and I have tests in all my classes when I get back next week.  Not to mention the mile-long list I’ve made of stuff to bake.  So, really, I’m not taking a break at all–I just don’t have to go to class.

-A miraculous thing happened the other day:  I finished off not one, but TWO jars of nut butters!  If you don’t know already, this means I get to enjoy a rare treat TWICE–OIAJ!

-I made oats in the Smucker’s jar (left) yesterday for lunch: oats, flaxseed meal, chia seeds, flax seeds, a splash of strawberry kefir, dehydrated strawberries, cottage cheese and granola on top.  (Thanks for the granola, Susy!)  Of course, all that with a little peanut butter swirled in.  This baby filled me up for hours! Yay for having another one (Crunchy Barney Butter) in the fridge.

-Andrew and I fasted last night while praying for some friends who are going through a rough time.  I’ve never fasted before.  I’ll be honest, food is kind of a big thing for me (as I’m learning through the Made to Crave Bible study–more on that later–I’m doing with Emily), so when Andrew first proposed the fasting idea last week, I was pretty against it.  But, God totally changed my heart and by yesterday morning I was pumped and ready to go!  I had my last snack at about 4:45 (we haven’t been eating until 7:30, so snacking at that time is normal for me) and we prayed together in two sessions.  God totally provided (I thought I would be in agony; my tummy was growling, but I–obviously–made it through) and not only was it a great time of prayer and bonding with Andrew, but it also helped get me off my sugar-kick from this weekend and take one step further in my journey of leaving my food issues behind me.

-Speaking of food:  I made Pioneer Woman’s Simple Sesame Noodle salad with Beef the other night and it was wonderful!  This is something I saw on her blog ages ago and is included in her new cookbook.  Andrew also really liked it, but I thought it was way too oily, so I’ll be reducing that next time.  I added the beef to make it more of a meal (it’s a variation in her cookbook, not sure if it’s in the online recipe) and bell peppers for more color and nutrition.  Topped with chopped peanuts–yum!

-I’ve come to the (sad) conclusion that I need a cup of coffee to get me through my T/Th Statistics class (1-3 p.m. yikes!) without my eyes uncontrollably closing on me.  Guess that’s what happens with a 5 a.m. wake-up time and swim practice.  I’ve done recent “taste tests” and I’m not a huge fan of Tim Horton’s (unfortunate since they are EVERYWHERE around here) or the cute little local place here in the Orchard Park village, Orchard Perk, (although they may have more than one roast…).  I’d make some at home, but at the moment have no good coffee thermos with which to actually transport the coffee.  To-do for this weekend: find one!

-Easter is this weekend and Andrew’s grandma is coming for a visit!  SO EXCITED!  I’m running in the Bunny Hop 5K, which goes right by their house (neat!  I might have a cheering section), and I’m hoping to spend as much time with everyone this weekend as possible = get as much work done as possible before Friday night, and what in the world do we do with Hadrian??

-Did I tell you all I’ve officially gotten into the Dietetics Program at Buffalo State?  Well, I have.  I have one summer class before I start full-time in the fall.  I’m a little anxious about scheduling my fall classes since I schedule last (as a new transfer student) and the classes I need are small with only 1 or 2 sections.  I think the professors will provide an ‘override’ if I can’t get into something I must have, but I’m still nervous.

-I’m making steakhouse mac and cheese today from Cooking Light. CAN. NOT. WAIT.

Whew!  I think that’s about it… Or at least a good start getting caught-up!

Alright, sun’s coming up and I have dishes to put away and a hubby to wake up! Happy Wednesday/first day of Easter Break/day I get to bake 🙂

a list

1.  I haven’t been blogging much lately.  I’m sorry.  I hate that I’m not.  I’m not even THAT crazy-busy (busy, but not CRAZY-busy), so I’m not even sure why.

2.  We’re having a bit of a heat wave here.  I’m going to be up-front and say I’m not thrilled.  First, I was expecting massive amounts of snow and a long winter, which we didn’t get.  Now, it’s basically feels like summer…  What gives?  We all know this 80-degree weather is going to disappear in favor of 60-degrees and rainy…just hurry up already!

3.  I got an 83 on my Micro TAKE-HOME test.  an 83! On a TAKE-HOME test!  “Impossible” and “unfair” aren’t strong enough words…

4.  I rocked that last two days in Chemistry.  “Rocked” = I managed to answer (aloud) more than one question correctly = the teacher thinks I know what I’m doing.

5.  Yesterday was like Christmas!  I got my order from SwimOutlet.com, which contained a pull buoy, paddles, fins, more swim caps and a mesh bag in which to carry it all; as well as my Amazon order that contained the Made to Crave book, devotional and DVD/workbook.  Emily and I are going to do a long-distance Bible study together!

6.  Did I tell you I got accepted into the Dietetics program at Buffalo State?  Well, I did.  Not that it was really up in the air…  I’m a transfer student with a 4.0; were they not going to let me in??  Now comes the fun part–figuring out how to register for my online summer class and fall classes!

7.  I haven’t cooked all week, which makes me sad.  Despite our heat wave, I’m making French Onion soup tonight.

8.  Andrew and I just finished the first season of Big Bang Theory.  Hilarious!

9.  Pioneer Woman’s newest cookbook arrived the other day.  In it, she includes recipes for Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream and Dorothy Lane’s Outrageous Brownies.  (Apparently she has some sort of friend or something from Cincinnati who has introduced her to some of Ohio’s more redeeming qualities.)  It also has the lemon-blueberry pancakes I’m been dying to make.  I’m in HEAVEN.

10.  It’s already THURSDAY.  On the one hand, this is awesome, because it means the weekend is just 1.5 days away (weekends start at noon on Friday for me).  On the other hand, time is flying!  Can you believe it’s almost APRIL???