all stocked up

(An alternate title to this blog could read: ‘On why I might make an OK mother after all’)

Andrew and I are flying to DC this weekend to spend the holiday with my family, and we enlisted Abigail to come stay with Hadrian instead of kenneling him.

My first thought was of all the goodies I could have out for our houseguest.  I can’t help it.  It’s the pineapple in me.

(Hadrian is also all stocked up on toys, too.)

However, between all of the Layers being on ‘diets’ (some more strict than others), and my unwillingness to buy what I call ‘crap,’ (gosh, that sounds harsh) you won’t find Combos or Cheetos or anything of that nature lurking around here!

Bananas, apples and oranges, as well as a selection of pseudo-healthy cereal bars and things (just about anything is ‘healthy’ in moderation, I think), and some crunchy things like Quakes and multigrain tortilla chips.

In the fridge Abigail will find celery and baby carrot sticks, as well as strawberry yogurts and 100% juice boxes.

There are even goodies in the freezer!

I walked down the frozen section in search of acceptable popsicles, when I came across all these Skinny Cow treats ON SALE.  I tell you, it was like the White Mint bars were CALLING to me.  And I know one of Abigail’s favorite flavors is cookies and cream, so I had to get both.  Of course.  I threw in some lemon sorbet bars thinking Andrew would like that flavor as well.

And, not to out-do myself or anything, I included a selection of the things I’ve made with the abundance of overripe bananas we’ve had on hand: strawberry-banana muffins, my banana bread with coconut and walnuts turned into muffins, and King Arthur Flour’s Chocolate-Chip Banana Squares.

In making my favorite banana bread into muffins, I decided it needed to be even healthier!  One and a half cups of sugar just seemed WAY. TOO. MUCH–even for two loaves–so I slashed away…again.  Here is my updated page with the recipe.  The muffins baked up nice and high; this is, hands down, the BEST banana bread recipe EVER.

I’ll also be putting out some of Andrew’s butter-flavored microwave popcorn bags, some of my favorite mac and cheese in a box (Annie’s!) and coffee pods.

I’m sure Hadrian will have a ball with Aunt Abigail (she calls him ‘horsey’), and we’re happy to have her come stay and keep the animals company.  I just hope she doesn’t think all my ‘health food’ is too weird…

the rest of the trip

Andrew and I got back late last night from our week-long trip to Ohio and Indiana.  It was filled (to the brim!) with friends, family and ice cream.  Yup.  Those three things pretty much sum it up.

After spending some quality time in Indiana with Andrew’s family, we headed back to Dayton with one more vehicle than we left with.  We’re now the proud owners a 2001 green Chevy Silverado, and boy does Andrew look good behind the wheel!

We squeezed in one more trip to Graeter’s to meet an ROTC-friend of mine who I found out was in town.  Charlie is a weapons officer on the RC-135 and is stationed in Omaha, NE, and is currently going through the weapons school in Las Vegas.  I’m so glad we got a chance to visit, even if it was only for 20 minutes or so, but I wish we’d gotten a photo!

Andrew continued on to Orrville, OH, where he had a business trip and I headed to Susy’s house for a couple days.

We ran (of course) 6 miles in 47 minutes flat — sweet!  This is going to sound crazy — we kept trying to slow down, but we must have been feeding off of each other and ended up pushing it the whole way.  The next morning, we thought we’d take it easy, but ended up doing 4 in 31:14 — almost exactly the same pace!  This whole running-WAY-faster-than-9-minute-miles-with-ease thing is still new to me…  Thanks Susy!  I owe it all to you.  And my 20-pound weight-loss.

After hurriedly showering, we grabbed our friend Jennifer and left for some shopping.


There are NO good Goodwills in Western New York.  I think there might be some in Amherst, but it’s a bit of a drive, so I haven’t ventured up there yet.  I was in DESPERATE need of clothes that fit, and I really lucked out!  My haul included two pairs of Gap jeans, two pairs of American Eagle cords, a pair of J. Crew khakis (almost exactly like my favorite pair that I had to give up!), two pairs of shorts, three skirts and a pair of BCBG “tuxedo” pants (they have stripes of sequins down the sides) — not sure where I’ll wear them, but they were in mint condition, looked fabulous on and probably retailed for $100 — I had to.

Onto more Dayton favorites…

…Trader Joe, I have missed thee.

I’d already done some shopping with Emily here, but I picked up some more essentials, like granola, peanut butter and mango gummies.  One can never have enough.

Sara, a house church friend who met us Sunday for lunch, told us about the new popsicle place that opened up across from TJ’s.  We had to go.

It’s a little gourmet treat shop and they have all sorts of fun flavors of popsicles.  Susy got the raspberry/lime/coconut, Jennifer chose the honeydew/basil/lime and I was craving the banana pudding with vanilla wafers — all were yummy!

We’d been doing our shopping at TJ’s for the soiree Susy had planned for that night — an ‘open-house’ of sorts so that all our friends could stop by to see me while I was in town!  Was that not the sweetest thing she could do?  Love her 🙂

While I’m gushing about Susy, I’ll just go ahead and continue.  She is the most EXCELLENT wine-and-cheese party-thrower EVER.  Seriously.  It’s all we ever did for get-togethers at her house and they are always just fantastic.  I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who organizes and attends wine and cheese parties.  Susy, thank you again for making this dream a reality.

Anna helped me make Ina’s brownie pudding for dessert.  Topped with vanilla ice cream, it is heaven on a plate.  Or in a bowl.  It’s basically like eating brownie batter without the raw-egg grossness.

We bought wine at Trader Joe’s, made flatbread pizzas and a fresh mozzarella and tomato pasta salad with Susy’s homemade pesto, arranged meat, cheese and cracker platters, roasted garlic and set out olive tapenade and eggplant dips.

OH. MY. GOSH.  Have you ever had bleu cheese with figs drizzled with honey?  I hadn’t, either.  I don’t even like bleu cheese, at least not very much.  In fact, until a couple years ago, I thought it smelled gross.  And it kinda still does.  But I am telling you, combine it with figs and honey, and it’s like dessert.  DESSERT.  Seriously.

Our running friends Nicole and Kathy came over, and Jennifer returned as well.

Later on, Kathryn and Mia stopped by as well.  These two are hilarious.  HILARIOUS.  I LOVE hanging out with them.  I think they bring out a less-tightly-wound side of my.  That, and a little wine helps, too.

We decided to howl at the moon that night and headed to the movies to see The Help.  I’d read the book just before we moved, so I’d been looking forward to seeing it.  It seemed like it jumped around a bit, but I love Emma Stone (although I think I liked her better about 10 pounds heavier–she just looks too skinny now) and really enjoyed seeing it with my girlfriends.  Now Andrew is off the hook and can take me to see something else!

We stayed out past midnight, and because I didn’t say no to Susy’s shot of espresso from that afternoon, it was 2 a.m. before I fell asleep…

…little did I know she, just two floors above me, was having the same insomnia!

Good morning!  I welcomed Susy’s espresso this time.

After our run we didn’t have time for a sit-down brunch before I left, so we went to one of our favorite haunts, Tropical Smoothie.

In true Susy-fashion, she convinced me to pop into Goodwill one more time on the way home.  We learned Goodwill is a ‘two-hand’ job…  Must. Finish. Smoothie. First!  I scored a white J. Crew tuxedo shirt (to go with the BCGC pants, perhaps?) and a bunch of long-sleeve shirts and a Gap sweater in anticipation of cooler weather in NY soon.

I left, picked up Hadrian from puppy camp in Troy and got on the road.  Andrew and I had decided to meet outside Cleveland and then continue on caravan-style.

I knew there was a Jeni’s somewhere in Cleveland, and it turns out it’s not far off of I-271!  We were stoked.

It’s in Chagrin Falls, OH, which is just about the cutest, quaintest town you can imagine.  Let’s just say it makes adorable East Aurora look like a ghetto.

It was a nice chance to take Hadrian for a bit of a walk and stretch our legs.  I’ve been on a waffle cone-kick of late (I think it’s because it takes longer to eat than in a dish, thus more enjoyment – ha!), and I got all seasonal flavors: blackberries and sweet corn, blueberry and lemon yogurt and peach buttermilk.  I told Andrew, upon finishing my treat, that I could go back and get a whole other one no problem.  No joke.  There is just something about Jeni’s.  It’s not heavy like other ice creams, and the flavors are so light yet intense…almost addicting.

We got back on the road with three more hours to go.

I’d been craving Chick-Fil-A for dinner during the entire drive, knowing there is one about an hour and  half from home in Erie, PA.  I told myself not to get the cookies and cream milkshake, since I’d already had ice cream…

NOPE!  I went all out.  I hadn’t had a CFA sandwich in months and I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t.  Now that we can’t have it all the time, I figured it’d be OK to totally splurge on exactly what I wanted: a sandwich, (small) fries and a shake.  And it was all I had dreamed it would be.

Andrew was holding out for a Pasquale’s pizza when we got home, which he picked up on the way.  I wish I could tell you I resisted the urge at 10 p.m. at night to have a slice, but I can’t.  Oh well, this morning was a new day!