Freedom

Last night Ron went to the WRAL’s Freedom Balloon Fest.  It was a blast!

The balloons were so pretty and the weather was wonderful!

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The festival is still going on for the rest of the weekend so if you have a chance, I’d highly recommend it.

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We parked at the Mudcat’s stadium and took one look at the free shuttle line and opted to walk the 2 miles from the parking area to the festival.  We made it in about 40 minutes.  I met a person that rode the shuttle and she said it took her 2.5 hours.  It was obvious that the organizers were not prepared for the amount of people that turned out.

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Ron happily enjoyed the beer garden and then I went in search of some food.  This is where the wait got me.  I waited almost 50 minutes and when I finally made it to the front of the line I ordered Ron a BBQ sandwich and me cheese pizza. They were out of pizza and it was going to be another 10 minutes so I just asked the guy to run and grab whatever was available.  He came back with 2 ears of roasted corn, 2 hot dogs, and some funnel cake bites.  I also grabbed some peanuts before I walked away.  I ate the corn and funnel cake bites and some peanuts and Ron ate everything else minus one hot dog that I offered our new friend that had waited so long on the shuttle.

Next up was the balloon glow!  So amazing!

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Afterwards guess what Ron and I did?  You guessed it.  We walked the 2 miles back in the dark to the Mudcats stadium.  We walked along with hundreds of other festival goers that didn’t want to wait on the shuttle so even though it was dark, I didn’t feel unsafe at all.

If you go, I hope they have more shuttles running.  Or, just go ahead and go early and pay the $30 premium parking up close.  If they are full at the $30 lot there are some houses along the way that are offering parking for $15-$20.  Or, be crazy like me and Ron and log thousands of steps and enjoy this beautiful weather!

Happy Memorial Day weekend and thanks to all those who serve to protect our freedom!

The Plan

Well, here’s my plan for the 10 5 ks.

Since Ron is running a half with me on June 6th he will be in training mode my birthday weekend.  That’s great news because he has agreed to run the first 4 5ks with me.  We’re starting at 6:00am at the McDonald’s behind Crabtree and running a little past Shelley Lake and back.  I ran this route last weekend with my Centennial Running friends and I love how shaded it is. The only sun you have is a short distance on the top crest at Shelley.

That should take us about 2.5 hours and then we’ll come back home.  Ron has Kung Fu on Saturday and he’ll have to get ready for that.  But for me, I want to go to the Raleigh Galloway kick-off.  It’s from 9-11:30 and even though I know I’ll be too shy to ask for a picture with Jeff, I might can score some free running swag.  Last year they gave out my favorite running hat.  I don’t want to miss it.

I figure once I get home and have lunch and rest a little, I can do 2 more 5ks around my neighborhood on my tried and true normal running route.  I can’t even begin to think how many miles I have run on these streets over the last 5 years.  I can run them in my sleep!

Next up, probably around 3:00pm,  I can go to White Deer Park in Garner and walk at least 1 5k and maybe run one more.

To finish it up, I’m thinking of going to Sam’s Branch Greenway and running just past Riverwood and back.  I think I’ll shoot to start those last 2 5ks around 6:00pm.  It should be a little cooler at that time and then afterwards we can all go to Deep River Brewing in Clayton.

Well there you go.  Oh the best laid plans of Mice and Melissa!

If there’s a rainstorm I’m putting it out there right now that I am postponing.  I want this to be fun.  I know rain can be awesome and I’ll never forgot my monsoon half at The Flying Pirate in 2012.  I’m just not interested in tackling my first 50k in the rain.

When I check this off the bucket list, my birthday will mark my official summer training program.  I’m registered for Hinson Lake on September 26th.  Could a 50 miler at Hinson be within my reach?  I think I’m just crazy enough to try it!

Then I’m itching to go back to OBX this November and maybe Kiawah in December.  So excited!

I’m not forgetting my CF goals either.   Double Unders, real push-ups on my toes, and a pull-up…..you will be mine!

(Check out this grandma’s pull-ups!)  Inconceivable!

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Happy Everything!

10 5ks

In honor of my 50th birthday coming up in 2 weeks I’ve decided to run 10 5ks on May 30th.  Come join me!

Coming soon, my itinerary  .  :)

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source   (I haven’t given up on faster but for some reason turning 50 really makes me want to do a 50k!)

Chopped Salads

I’ve recently gotten hooked on Subway chopped salads.  I bet I ate there at least 5 times in less than a month.  I had to stop it.  It was getting dangerous.

The Subway artist would take a large white plastic bowl and start adding the things that I asked for.  Spinach, a little lettuce, black olives, yellow peppers, cucumbers, bell peppers, and mushrooms were often my choices. Then I’d ask for salt, pepper, and oregano and a small amount of Chipolte Southwest dressing.  Once they had it all in the bowl they take a chopper like pictured below and chop away.  It was delicious and oh so easy to eat.

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When I knew I had to stop going into Subway so much I first thought I try to find a 2 blade chopper.  I did look at Target and Walmart but I couldn’t find one.  Then I got the idea to use my Pampered Chef cucumber slicer.  It worked pretty well but I couldn’t quite capture how Subway did it.

Lastly, I got the idea to try my food processor.  This has proved to be the secret.  I’ve recreated my Subway salads over and over.  Ron is doing it too.  We love it!  It only takes a second and since it is just lettuce it cleans up in a snap.  I love the salads so much I don’t even mind cleaning the food processor.

My food processor has a 11 cup bowl so friends, that is a whole lot of greens!

Here’s some shots of how it all comes together.  Today’s salad has half and half spring mix, carrots, lentils, shitake mushrooms, yellow peppers, salt, pepper, oregano, and salsa.  Other than chopping, the oregano and the low calorie salsa dressing is the secret.

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Find a way to go chop up a big ‘ole salad and sprinkle on the oregano.

Enjoy!

Irregardless

Last night was date night for Ron and me and we finally made it to a restaurant that has been recommended to me so many times over the last few years.  Irregardless.

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It’s located just off Hillsborough Street in Raleigh near Charlie Goodnight’s Comedy Club.  The restaurant has convenient parking across the street in a gravel lot on the hill.

I loved everything about it from the moment we walked in!  The staff was so attentive and friendly!  We arrived a little before 6:00 on a Saturday night and there were only a few patrons.  Almost everyone that was dining was sitting outside and luckily there were a few tables left.  I adore al fresco dining!

20150502_175125Ron started with an IPA from Mother Earth Brewing and I got a pear martini.  Yummo.  I sipped on this one the entire time we were there.

This was the special menu that was offered in addition to their normal menu.

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We both chose the vegan scallops and decided to share the arugula and goat cheese salad.

For starters, they gave us this little plate of bread and butter.

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And here’s the salad!  I just love it when they half it for you and serve it on 2 plates when you are sharing.  It was AMAZING!

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Here’s the “scallops.”

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Divine!  The risotto was so creamy and flavorful and you could almost believe you were eating real scallops.  (We ate our flowers too.  Smile)

You know I can’t pass up dessert so I asked the server what her favorite was.  She told me the vegan cheesecake.

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Very, very good.

Before we left I stepped inside and got a shot of the inside of the restaurant.  They had a live piano player and the tables had really filled up in the hour or so that we were there.

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It was a little pricy there and our 2.5 entrees with 2 beers, 1 cocktail, and 1 dessert topped out at $88 bucks.  A quick doubling of the 10% for the tip made us just put down $105 bucks and call it a night.

As we were walking back to our car this chalkboard caught my eye from the business next door.  Made me smile.

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The night was still so young and the weather so beautiful, we ended up at our favorite brewery in Clayton, Deep River.  They were supposed to have live music but I guess the artist was a no show.  Ron got a 4 pack of his favorite to take home.

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Later that night Ron mentioned that we had eaten $100 bucks of mushrooms that evening and that we might better really focus on eating like my new book.  I’ve never laughed so hard in a very long time.  He really had me rolling.

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Seriously though, I loved Irregardless and will love to go back.  It’s a special place and worth the splurge maybe once a year or so.

Speaking of how I’m eating lately, I told you I owed you a post.  For most of 2014, I ate a vegetarian diet.  I ate a little meat here and there when we were on vacation but mostly it was always vegetarian.  Honestly, for the past 5 years, I’ve been an on again off again veggie.  More on than off and the only thing that kept me from going vegan were the eggs that I get from my neighbor’s backyard chickens and the cheese that I end up eating at Mexican restaurants and when I have pizza.  I’m cool with no yogurt and no milk.  Almond milk is fine for me.  The cheese is my pitfall.

And it’s really crazy because I hate dairy farming the most of all.  I hate how they impregnate the cows over and over again and take their calves away from them so soon.  It breaks my heart.  Also, those dairy cows get so big they often can’t walk.  I’ve seen 2 movies and when they pick up the cows in the frontloaders to carry them away, I die.

I’m not proud to admit this but Ron talked me into trying the Whole 30 diet with him last month and for 26 days, I did eat meat.  On the Whole 30 all you can have is meat and veggies and limited fruits.  No sugar, breads, or grains.  I lost 7 lbs. very quickly and I did feel good.  Ethically, though, I felt horrible.

I recently saw the movie Cowspiracy and it was very different than Forks over Knives or other documentaries I’ve seen.

It focused on the environmental impact that factory farming has on the earth.    I really care about the environment and I am really trying to reduce, reuse, and recycle like crazy.  For me though, the treatment of the animals is my main concern.

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Even though Ron eats a lot of vegan and veggie meals with me happily, I don’t see him giving up meat entirely.  Same for the rest of the family.  I cook a lot of meat for Andie, Jonathan, and Lydia.  I try to get grass fed beef and meat from small farms when I can.

I’ll give a a review of how I do on the new recipes in Vegan on the Cheap next week.  I’m excited!

Hoping to get some good runs in this week along with my 2 CrossFit nights.

Happy Week Ya’ll!

Go Play Outside Now

Today was a beautiful day in Clayton, North Carolina!  I’ve been dying to try out this cool outside play park so when Andie said Mason wanted to spend the afternoon with me, this was my chance.

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I can’t say enough good things about this place.  They’ve been open for a while now and I love everything about them!  Beginning with the name; I just love it.  I can totally hear my mom saying those words to me and myself saying it to my girls.  I so hope that Mason always loves the outdoors and that he doesn’t get stuck in the media world of ipads and video games

My favorite was the slide!  With those burlap sacks, it was super fast!  Mason wasn’t afraid and I got to teach him a new word. (burlap)  We must have slid 50 times or more throughout our visit.

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Mason loved the slide too but his favorite by far was laser tag.  You get to play for about 15 minutes at a time.  While we were waiting our turn at this most popular section of the park, one little boy got bored about 7 minutes in.  The leader offered that gun to us and the 8 minutes left was a perfect about of time for Mason.

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Other things we loved were the tire jumps and tire swing.

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This place is so much fun!  In the summer it looks like they have a water slide that wasn’t running today.  The cost is $10.00 per person and you can stay as long as you want.  You can bring a cooler and have a picnic and even have smores at the campfire.

If you’re in the area, Go Play Outside Now!

Staycation!

Today marked day one of my Spring Vacation and I’m spending every day right here at home.  Monday – Friday I’m taking care of this cutie and I’m so excited.

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But today, was a special day with this handsome dude!

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That’s Mason at our first stop of the day, Baker’s Dozen Donuts.  Grandpa won a free month of Tai Chi and Kung Fu from the Chinese Shao-Lin Center of Raleigh, and we went with him for moral support.  Baker’s Dozen and the Kung Fu studio are just around the corner from each other.  The head instructor at Shao-Lin is vegan and Ron won the free month at a raffle we attended at the showing of Cowspiracy the other week.  (I owe you a whole post about what I’m eating lately and a review of Cowspiracy.  I promise, I’ll get to it soon.)

But on to the rest of our awesome day.  I don’t have any more pictures because my phone died but we had a blast!  Next up was a haircut for Mason at JJ’s Kids Cuts.  We’ve been going to Ms. Maria for a long time now and we just love her.  Mason loves the cool kid chairs and that he gets to pick a tape to watch while Ms. Maria snips.  Today Mason chose Land Before Time.

Here’s a shot from 2 years ago.  I think this picture might have been from Mason’s first trip to JJ’s.

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After JJ’s, we were all getting hungry so we slipped over to Chipolte Mexican Grill right there in the same shopping area.   Ron and I both got the veggie burrito with brown rice, black beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo.  Those burritos were huge!  Mason got a cheese quesadilla and we all had fun pronouncing them the way Napoleon Dynamite’s grandma does. Smile

Next we were heading to White Deer Park to play on the playground but Grandpa remembered the the new Cabela’s  was open now and we just had to stop.  It was a zoo!  Literally!  So crowded but we had a lot of fun looking at the fish and all the taxidermied animals.  Mason loved them all except the bobcat and the lynx scared him a little.  (The animal lover in me was very sad to see all those beautiful animals that had been killed.)  We totally spoiled Mason big time and got him a new kite, some camo walkie talkies and binoculars, and a pop gun.  He was so excited!

Since we had been talking about White Deer Park and even though our day was plenty full enough, we couldn’t tell Mason no when he still wanted to go to the park.

We played about a half hour and then looked at yet another stuffed deer at the nature center.  Mason had a ball!

This grandma is plenty tired!  Tomorrow my plans after church are to clean the house really good in preparation of keeping Daphne next week and to get a good long run in.

Happy Happy Happy!