WRAL-TV Azalea Gardens

I got the chance to slip  over to the gardens today at lunch.  It was so beautiful!  I work very close to this awesome spot and I’m really going to try to enjoy it more often.  I know it is most beautiful when these azaleas are in bloom but I bet it is peaceful year round.

WRAL-TV gardens

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Be sure to check it out if you can!

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I DO need pizza!

Of all animal based food items, dairy  is one that I try to stay away from most!  I think it is the most un-healthy and the most cruel of all farming.  Click here for the health reasons why I try to stay away from dairy.  But look at this single comment on this blog that haunts me to my core.

However, the taste of cheese is such a comfort and one that I still crave.  Next to Mexican cuisine, pizza is one of my favorite foods.  I love the vegan pizza that you can get at Whole Foods and I have made some awesome homemade pizzas with Daiya cheese.  But to be able to walk into a restaurant and order a vegan pizza freshly made to order.  Total Win!

Let me introduce you to Blaze Pizza!  I’ve know about Blaze for a while and was so happy to finally try it out.

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The concept is super easy and very much like Subway.  You walk in and place your order and can choose one of their signature pizzas or design your own.  You just follow it down the line and let them know what toppings you want.

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Ron chose the veggie pizza with regular cheese but I got the make your own and the non-dairy cheese.

Here’s some pizzas waiting to go in the oven.

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And here’s a shot of the fast fire oven.

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You have to wait a very short time.  Just long enough to pay and then get your drink.  And look at these awesome drinks you can choose from!

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They have the normal sodas too but both Ron and I got the waters.  I tasted the key lime one but ended up with the blood orange lemonade.  Yummo!

Take a look at this beauty!

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If I can remember it all I think there is pineapple, black olives, red pepper, red onions. zucchini, mushrooms, and spinach on mine.

Here’s Ron’s:

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So very yummy!  They had small to go boxes ready for you to grab and I brought 2 slices home with me.  Ron and I will be going back to Blaze often.  If Blaze is in your area, be sure to give it a try.  Be brave and try the non-dairy cheese.  It’s delicious.

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Living Kitchen Love

Yesterday I went on an 8 mile run with my good friend Connie and then after that I did an hour long Camp Gladiator endurance workout.  I did take a short nap and then my daughter Andie and I took all 3 dogs to the vet at Petco.  Since we have 3 dogs, this low cost vaccination clinic really makes a lot of sense for us.  Some years we have had to wait in a long line but this year, we got there 30 minutes early and walked right up to the check-in assistants.  We filled out our paperwork and were ready to see the vet in minutes flat.  The whole process took only 1 hour and now Fred, Lucky, and Lily are all good to go for another year.

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During the run earlier that morning, Connie told me about a new restaurant that has just opened up in downtown Raleigh.  When she started talking about it I realized it must be the same restaurant that I saw on Facebook.  The No Meat Athlete group in Raleigh was having a social run and dinner at someplace new.   Then Ron came home from Kung Fu and said Sifu Mo had told him about this new place that was 100% plant based and organic.

After such a busy day when I finally settled down it was almost 6:00pm and I was very tired.  I had a smoothie after the workout and before the vet I had a veggie burger and now I was getting quite hungry.  I started to think about what I could come up with for dinner and then it hit me.  Let’s go out!  Ron was sitting right beside me and I looked to him and asked him if he wanted to try the new place that Sifu had told him about.  I told him Connie’s recommendations and within seconds he said, “Let’s Go!”

Living Kitchen is on the corner of Fayetteville Street and Lenoir.  I loved it from the moment we stepped inside.

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The space is very modern and open.   We were greeted quickly and were seated in minutes.

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Connie had recommended the ginger-ale so I had to get it.  Ron was happy with a great IPA.

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That brewery is in Charlotte and what we were finding out was that this is the 2nd Living Kitchen Restaurant with the original one having been in business in Charlotte since 2010.

I loved the ginger-ale.  You could taste the fresh ginger but it wasn’t so strong that it knocked you down.

Our appetizer was the sushi.  Oh man!  Yummo!

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It was just sweet potatoes and veggies but the nori it was wrapped in gave it the fish taste.  The dipping sauce was amazing.

Next came our entrée’s.  I got the Living Burrito and Ron got the Pad Thai

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Ron is online right now researching spiralizers.  He loved it so much he just has to try and recreate it.

That is beet salad for my side and you know I adore beets.  Wowzer!  So yummy.  My sauce for the burrito was their signature hot sauce.  To.die.for.

I saved half of my burrito and half of the beet salad and brought that home so I could try a dessert.

Here’s my selection!  The Lemon-Berry Cheesecake!  I don’t know how they do it but the cashews, coconut, and berries somehow come together and you’d swear you are eating real cheesecake.  Out of this world delicious.

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Living Kitchen serves cold pressed juices and before we left, Ron got these 2 beauties for today and tomorrow.

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I was so excited to find another plant based dining option in Raleigh.  You know I love Remedy Diner and Fiction Kitchen but Living Kitchen is way healthier.

If you’ve been interested in plant based eating, give LK a try.  You will love it!

 

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.

Cowspiracy-Infographic (1)

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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!

Belle and Books

It has been a snowy, icy, sick few weeks for us here at the Cupit home and today we were itching to get out.  Our grandson, Mason, was just getting over a stomach bug last weekend when we kept him when our granddaughter, Daphne, was born.  Ron came down with the sickness a few days after Mason but I thought I was in the clear.  No such luck.  It hit me hard on Friday and I had to take a half day off from work.  That’s the first time I’ve missed work in over 4 years.  I was feeling so much better today -really back to my old self.

After church, Ron and I ventured out even though the weather was still cold and rainy.  We were heading to Whole Food in Cary to pick up a few things and decided to stop in and try a new farm to table restaurant we saw featured on UNC-TV, Belle of Cary.

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Belle is located right in the heart of downtown Cary at 324 S. Academy St.  The UNC-TV special let us know that when the owner finished decorating it and she looked around, it reminded her so much of her grandmother Belle’s place, that ended up being the name.  It wasn’t crowded at all today and I know it had to have been because of the weather.

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I started off with a mimosa and Ron had this huge cup of coffee.

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I didn’t crop out the chair in the background of Ron’s coffee shot because I wanted to report that Ron did not like these metal chairs. He didn’t think they were comfortable. I loved them however. So cute!

I had cream of broccoli soup and the veggie quiche.  Delicious.  The fruit was so sweet and fresh!  The quiche was perfect!

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Ron got a house salad and the veggie wrap with cole slaw as his side.
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He got the salad because he especially wanted to try the goat cheese. He had heard it was from a local farm in Hillsborough and he was dying to try it out.  Ron love everything he ordered.  He let me have a taste of the veggie wrap and I immediately knew it was the most unique veggie wrap I had ever tasted.  (And you know I have had a LOT of veggie wraps!) I couldn’t quite figure it out and even after we asked the server we still weren’t sure what it was.  Then it hit Ron.  It was cinnamon.  I took one more tiny taste and that was it.    So flavorful!  Ron is the master of cole slaw and we are happy to report that Belle’s was very good.  Just a little sweet and perfectly seasoned.

We were too full for dessert but as we were leaving we noticed that Belle is a bakery too and you can stop by just for sweets if that’s what you are in the mood for.

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I had to get something and I ended up with a raspberry white chocolate scone. A few hours after brunch we were still out and about today so I dug into it and loved every bite. I tried to only eat half but it didn’t work. So yummy! I’ve had scones before but this one was very different. It reminded me of my mother’s biscuits.
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Ron and I loved Belle but I can’t give it a completely glowing review. I hate this because I was so excited for it after watching the special on UNC-TV.
I think what got me was when we walked in we weren’t immediately greeted. We had to stand around a little while and we were confused. We didn’t know if we should seat ourselves or if there was a hostess. It probably was only a couple of minutes but when you don’t know what to do it seemed like forever. Also, between each course and getting our bill we ended up waiting. Remember, I mentioned that they were not busy while we were there and I didn’t think there needed to be so much down time. Our server was nice and there were others about helping out but it just felt off to me. Ron said if we had been there on a beautiful Spring day it might have felt totally different. I’m going to give them another chance the first warm day we have. I’d love to dine out on the porch.
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Now for a little of what I’ve been enjoying lately:
These La Croix waters are so good! Ron and I each got one when we were at Target today.
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And here’s what I’ve been reading listening to lately:

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Rosa shared this with me this month. She has been driving a lot more than me lately so she has been going to the library as well as listening to our monthly Audible selection. Winter Garden was to the fall of Leningrad as The Book Thief was to the US and allied bombings in Germany.  I was shaken to the core.  What those poor souls endured was so awful!  War is very very ugly.  Now I’m not saying Winter Garden was anywhere near as beautifully written as The Book Thief but it was a great little book.  I’m so glad Rosa shared.  Since I listen to books, the narrator is very important to me. I didn’t like the narrator at first but when she starts telling the story of the war she uses a Russian accent and I loved that!  I’ve got to book a cruise to Alaska stat and I must have caviar and shots of vodka soon!

Our January Audible selection was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

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We are late to the party on this one and boy was it a doosey!  I absolutely loved it!  I’m not going to give too much away because I think you might find yourself loving it more if you don’t research the book beforehand.  I highly recommend the Audible recording.  The performer was OUTSTANDING!  I was laughing so hard in some of the parts.  Right after I finished the book, Ron found the movie on Time Warner on Demand for me.  It was a good thing it was free because I didn’t love the movie.  That’s the problem when you enjoy the book first.  Often it is a great movie on its own but nothing will ever compare to the Audible performance I listened to.  Ron and I are planning on a trip to Savannah soon.  I can’t wait to find that statue and take a picture by it.

Our December Audible selection was The Snow Child.

The Snow Child

What an enchanting and magical fairy tale.  I loved the Alaskan setting and found myself drawn into this beautiful little book.  If it’s still snowing in your area, I urge you to get this book and enjoy!

Two other selections were The End of the Affair and The Aviator’s Wife.  The first one I didn’t like but I loved The Aviator’s Wife.  I want to watch the movie The Spirit of St. Louis so bad but I can’t find it anywhere.

In my Audible account I have Unbroken waiting for me.  I plan to start that tomorrow.  What’s on your book shelf lately?

What good restaurants have you been to?

On the running front I am doomed.  I did get in one good treadmill run this week (a 5k in 28:42!) but that is all.

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We have the Tobacco Road Half Marathon coming up in 14 days and I am no where ready for it at all.  I’ll finish but it’s not going to be pretty.  Since I’m not trained up well enough I’m planning on doing intervals if I need them and go into the race with a joyous attitude and just have fun.  Hopefully we’ll have pretty weather.  I am so ready for Spring!

Simple Twist

My good friend Lisa recommended Simple Twist to Ron and me since she knows we try to eat local and organic.  (Hey you can’t get much more local and organic than the fresh eggs she and her adorable boys deliver to us every other week or so!)

Tonight was the perfect night.  Ron and I were out and about in the 40/42 area and we ended up getting hungry.  We could have got some groceries and gone home to cook, but instead our van veered into the parking area in front of Simple Twist!

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For a Friday night at 7:30ish they were really hopping.  We had to wait a few short minutes for a table but I was glad to do so.  Something about stepping into such a happening place, I knew that many people wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t top notch.

I had to try the the Twisted Guac.  I didn’t notice that it was coming with bacon and had to pick it off.

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Oh my word!  It was awesome.  Something about the blue cheese with the avocado and cilantro made this guac so special.  It was spicy but not too hot.  Absolutely perfect!  I didn’t really care for the Verde salsa. It didn’t have that much flavor to me.  But the guacamole!  Holy Guacamole!

Ron’s starter was the Twisted Salad with the pineapple/mango dressing.

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He loved it.  I tasted the dressing and it was to die for.  So scrumptious!

There wasn’t a lot of veggie choices on the menu but we spotted the Peace, Love, and Veggie Sandwich.  We both got one.

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Ron loved it but for me, there was missing something.  The veggies were grilled to perfection and the bread was great but I felt it needed some sort of pop.  I ended up dipping my sandwich into what was left of Ron’s pineapple/mango dressing and then in ketchup.  Very good but for me, not the best veggie sandwich I’ve ever tasted.

The fries were perfect!

Ron was happy to get his favorite local brew, 4042 Stout, from Deep River Brewing out of Clayton.  If you love craft beer, this is the place for you.  They had a great selection.  If I hadn’t been the DD I would have loved to tried some of the fancy cocktails.

My selection from Simple Twist’s dessert menu was this divine chocolate gauche cheesecake.    So delicious!

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The Cleveland area is very lucky to have this wonderful Cafe and Bar.  I loved the music and the vibe in the restaurant made me feel like I could have been in downtown Raleigh.  Our server was the sweetest ever and her service was impeccable.

There were a slue of omnivore selections on the menu and I bet they were all perfect.  I will definitely go back.  I can’t believe it has taken us so long to try them out.  What a gem right here in our community!