Murphy

Beautiful Salads and Commitment to Relaxation

SALAD PRESENTATION: 10

It’s hard to complain at all when someone else is cooking dinner.  Especially when it’s an incredible salad, considering how bad I am at keeping a large amount of produce fresh all at the same time so I can actually make one of my own.

And then when it’s presented to me looking like this?  Seriously.  One spoiled girl.

TULIP BLOOMING: 8

I love tulips.  I find them to have a lot more personality than other flowers.  And when they open up to say hello?  Even better.

Only downside is that when they start blooming they also start drooping.  Which means they’re not going to last a whole lot longer 😦

THIS DUDE’S COMMITMENT TO HIS JOB: 7

Could I have been laughing any harder when I saw this on the way home from the Tobacco Trail the other day?  On the way to start our bike ride we passed him standing up and commented that he looked about 12 years old.  On the way home, he had clearly had enough of walking around holding the Great Clips sign.  So he decided to just lay down on the sidewalk and prop it up.

Hesitate to give him above a 5, because I’m pretty sure his boss would not be pleased with this, but I hesitate to give him below a 5 since cars can still see the sign.  So normally this would be a 5, but the laugh it gave me and my parents is worth at least 2.

7!

MURPH’S HELP WITH MY EDITING: 8

Who doesn’t love a cuddle buddy when knocking out a little work?  This girl definitely does.  Especially if it’s a juggle whose name rhymes with Smurph.

That said, the actual ‘help’ he provided was minimal.  For such a smart dog, he doesn’t often put it to work outside of sneaking into cabinets and trash cans to overdose on food…

Plus the more deeply he fell asleep, the more weight he put onto my arm making it trickier to edit.  I also had to stop every 5 minutes to gush at how cute he was as he snored…

So in terms of productivity, it was no good.  In terms of a smiling heart, it was great 🙂

Coming up next is a full review of Full Steam, an awesome brewery in downtown Durham I’ve recently fallen in love with 🙂  Until then, just living for the tens!

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Franklin Street & Never Ending Climbs

Let’s be honest.  It’s hard not to let our personal lives affect our professional lives.  These past couple weeks have been a great reminder of that, and have done a lot for my sympathy in understanding what both colleagues and students bring in to school with them every day.  Even harder is not being able to acknowledge the reality of a personal life while at work.

So you can imagine my surprise and appreciation when a colleague left a nice note on my desk this morning and a container of vegan ice cream in the staff room freezer waiting for me.

SURPRISE ICE CREAM TREAT: 10

Seriously.  I always see it at Food Lion and Trader Joes, but always resist the urge to buy it.  Today, the choice wasn’t mine.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!  I made the smart move of leaving it at school, having enough self awareness to know what would happen to it if I brought it home.  A couple spoonfuls here and there might be the best solution ever to a long week 🙂

MURPH’S LOVE OF THE NC HEAT: 2

I always forget how much the Smurph dog hates the NC summers until the warm weather really starts to hit.  While in the Spring, Winter or Fall he’s dying for a longer walk, as soon as the heat kicks in he’s begging to head back home.  Literally.  He puts on the brakes and refuses to go any further.  After I explain to him rationally that he’ll be just fine, and that he needs the extra exercise to burn off the trash he devoured that day, I can often coerce him.  But it is never easy.  Tonight was no exception.

After a walk with Murph, I headed to the CHCC for a Tuesday evening climb.  Arrived a bit late, but still got some nice climbs in with Paul.  Until we hit this route, however.

JOHN’S URGENCY ON THE ROPES AT THE CHCC: 3

I suppose you have the right to take your time.  But I’m also pretty sure there’s a sign on the wall encouraging urgency for the sake of cutting down on lines.  After waiting for over 10 minutes, we decided this was definitely ratable.  While not a rating of John, or his climbing (as he is still very much loved by us), it is a rating of the seemingly endless wait to finally get on the wall.  But if I’m being honest with myself here, maybe the real rating should be:

PAUL & MY CHOICE OF ROUTE: 3

I suppose at the end of the day it wasn’t really John’s fault, but instead ours for choosing to wait in line behind the SLOWEST CLIMBING PAIR EVER.  Okay, I exaggerate.  But when the lines are long, your partner is hungry and trying to peace out early, every second counts.

Following another climb or two we headed out to Tyler’s for dinner and then the Orange County Social Club for some celebratory beers, as a friend’s new album was just released.

DRIVING DOWN FRANKLIN STREET ON A WARM NIGHT WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN LISTENING TO JOE PURDY: 10

Seriously.  Heart smiling and loving life, there’s something about Joe Purdy that goes BEAUTIFULLY with a nice drive down Franklin Street.  Especially when it’s 80 degrees out and smells like summer.

Making it even more exciting?  Realizing that in a matter of two weeks all the undergrads will be gone and it will officially be CAROLINA SUMMER TIME!  I can’t wait 🙂

Overall, a great evening.  Stay tuned for the rating of Tripp’s newest album!

Until then, just living for the tens!

Why, hello fall!

Welcome to the best four months of the year.  Seriously, I’m not kidding.  Let me explain…

September: As this week proved, September is when the air starts to get a little cooler in the mornings, and night time walks with the pups require a hoodie or a fleece.  Absolute best feeling ever.  Football season has officially begun, including tailgating.  You have an excuse to do back-to-school shopping, and Hound Ears is less than a month away.

October: Now fall is in full swing, pumpkin flavored lattes, cakes, muffins, ice cream and even pancakes.  It’s everywhere, and you will never find this girl complaining about that.  You get to start brainstorming Halloween costume ideas, scouring thrift stores, and hosting pumpkin carving parties. Add in a corn maze and the North Carolina State Fair, and you’re as close to a 10 as a month can get.  Plus, it’s now officially okay to start listening to Christmas music.  Don’t even bother commenting on that one.  No one will ever convince me otherwise.

November: Halloween may be over, but the pumpkin foods are not.  Now we’re getting excited for a much needed Thanksgiving break, and a trip to the mountains.  It’s officially cold and I can start wearing my favorite hats and scarves.  Christmas music is now popping up on the radio and in malls…

December: Rejuvenated from Thanksgiving break, you’re now ready to attack the holiday season full force.  Christmas shopping, apartment decorating, holiday parties and visits with Santa at the mall.  Pumpkin is still available most places, in addition to some delicious gingerbread options.  Add in a nice 1-2 week break, and I’m loving life.  A lot.

So when it got cool this week and I got to really think about the season we were approaching I realized it was time to share a little of this joy with others.  Thankfully Jill was in town from DC, so we got a chance to start the celebrating.  Including our first high school football game of the season…

SATURDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME:  7

Despite the sky spitting on us all day, and throughout the night, I’m pretty grateful KIPP was playing locally.  Gave me an excuse to throw on a hoodie, brave the rain, see some of my favorite students, and witness a huge win for the Panthers!  -3 for the rain (meaning we couldn’t sit down, my toes got pretty wet, and my body took about 2 hours to get rid of my goosebumps).

KIPP CHEERING SECTION: 9

HIGHLY entertaining.  Not always the friendliest of comments (hence the -1), but I loved how disproportionate our vocal presence was to our physical presence 🙂

PUMPKIN SPICED LATTES: 9

Yup, after diving in on Thursday I’m worried the seasonal addiction has begun again.  Loved every second of this guy.

Still not over the price 😦

After some afternoon shopping at Southpoint, Jill and I headed to Cheesecake Factory for lunch.

JILL’S ABILITY TO HANDLE THE LARGE, BOOK-LIKE MENU: 2

20 minutes later she was ready to order.

MUSHROOM LETTUCE WRAP @ CHEESECAKE FACTORY: 9

I’m loving several of their vegan menu items, and decided to go with their Mushroom Lettuce Wrap.  Sauteed mushrooms with crunchy rice-like noodle guys, and giant pieces of lettuce to wrap it up in.  Seriously delicious!  And only $5.95.  Meaning I left Cheesecake Factory paying a total of $8.  Unheard of.  Even at the food court.

Was hungry a couple hours later, so not the most filling meal, but still worth it 🙂

After some serious Felicity marathon watching, and a visit to City Bev with great people, we headed out to the mountains.

HANGING ROCK HIKE: 7

I’ve heard a lot about Hanging Rock, and since visiting Blacksburg more recently I drive by the sign on the way there and the way back.  So this weekend was the time to check it out.

2 hours later we arrived.  A bit deceiving, as it was easily 30 minutes off of the highway where I thought it was going to be.  -1.

When we arrived we were presented with several options for hikes.  We went with the classic ‘Hanging Rock’ hike, a total of 3 miles round trip.  Rated ‘Moderate’, I would say that was a bit of an overstatement.  ‘Light Moderate’ would be more accurate.  There were some steep portions, but it was pretty short and not very rigorous.

This is great for an afternoon stroll, but I like to earn my views.  I also like to avoid loud children.  Especially when there are a lot.  And the more strenuous the hike, the less loud children.  And people in general.  -1.

That said, boy were the views amazing.  For an hour hike up, we were definitely rewarded with some of the best views I’ve seen since Maine last month.

Now I know you’re wondering about the last point.  See the ledge we’re sitting on right there?  Yeah, it’s a straight drop down.  Which not only makes me nervous for myself (which it does), but also for all those people I mentioned earlier.  Especially the kids.  NERVOUS. WRECK.   -1.

HIKING WITH MURPH: 6

I love how much Murph likes to hike.  I love how tired he is after a long day of hiking (as I type, he’s sleeping next to me quietly).  And one of the reasons I wanted a dog in the first place was to take him hiking.

However, what I didn’t have in mind was him dragging me up mountains.  And then down again.

I swear I use twice as much muscle on every hike just pulling the opposite direction of him so I don’t tip over.  Case in point:

Don’t worry.  We made up once we got to the top.

Until we started hiking down, that is.

Once we finished we still had plenty of day in front of us, so we drove home (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’, while Jill slept like a baby in the passenger seat and Murph napped peacefully in his bed in the back of the car) and headed to the Tobacco Trail.  My new apartment complex offers free bike rentals and I’ve been meaning to try them out.  After handing over a check for $350 (which I got back as soon as the bike did) we were on the road again.

TOBACCO ROAD BIKE RIDE: 10

I love biking.  And you can’t beat a nice paved road with minimal hills, and good company.  I love biking with music, but I like biking with conversation even more.  Plus the temperature was PERFECT.  Long-sleeved shirt, no sweat, a nice fall breeze, and occasional whiffs of burning wood.

What a great way to end the day 🙂

Until next time, just living for the tens!

Purging, Packing and Outdoor Music

MOTHER’S DAY LUNCH WITH THE GREMILLION FAMILY: 9

In lieu (?) of spending Mother’s Day with my mom (although this will be happening on Tuesday as I finally head back North so a quick vacation) I got to celebrate with Scott and his parents.  And boy do they have good taste.  While I often kid Scott that he needs to take me to Ruth’s Chris for a fancy date (despite me not eating meat) I wasn’t actually expecting to ever go.  However, luckily that’s what his mom wanted for Mother’s Day 🙂  So off we went.

Three crabcakes, a ton of broccoli and half a giant baked potato later it was time for these…

However I’ll admit when I ordered the cheesecake I wasn’t expecting to get an entire cheesecake.  One slice would have been just fine… left feeling overfull and sluggish due to the excessive dessert, but overall a DELICIOUS Mother’s Day lunch 🙂

PURGING AND PACKING: 7

I spent most of the weekend beginning the intense purging process that NEEDS to happen before packing up and moving again.  Despite having done this the last time I moved two years ago, you would be amazed by how much more stuff I’ve collected.  It’s out of control, really, and I feel genuinely excited about throwing half of it out.

I find a huge dilemma when it comes to purging, because the minimalist in me (despite the appearance of my apartment, it really does exist) wants to throw out everything I haven’t used in the past month, the cheapskate in me wants to save everything I might use in the next five years so I won’t have to run out and buy a new one.  I’m trying my best to compromise between the two…

That being said, I ended up with three bags of trash, and three giant boxes of clothes/things to give away.  My closet looks INFINITELY better.  However, I’m sure it will be put into a completely different perspective when I move everything out of my giant walk-in closet into something that will continue to make it look excessive… the ongoing fight continues.

MURPH’S HAPPINESS WITH MY PURGING: 0

While I was happy with everything I was able to get rid of, Murph was not.  Here he’s trying to rescue his beloved stuffed animal (that he insists on dragging around the apartment and shedding stuffing EVERYWHERE) from a box that’s just a bit too tall.

For all you that think I’m mean, I did eventually let him keep it, and they’re snuggled up together on the bed as I write this.

OUTDOOR CONCERT AT SOUTHERN VILLAGE: 9

Nothing quite like some Bobbasheely Framily time to finish the week off right… Scott and I headed over to Southern Village to picnic on the lawn with Laura and Snooky, and of course enjoy some live outdoor music.

The music was alright, but the company and food was GREAT.  +10 for showing the boring crowd how to have some fun.  -1 for all the stares we got.  Come on guys, this isn’t the symphony, we’re at an outdoor concert!

My Heart is Happier :)

I find my heart is just plain happier when I’m in the mountains of North Carolina.  There’s a legend that something special is buried deep below the mountains, causing visitors a feeling that can’t really be described, but can most definitely be felt.  I think it’s a feeling of a content heart.  That combined with the framily is bound to make one of the best Easters ever.  A slideshow to come shortly, but in the meantime a random assortment of ratings from the long weekend in Blowing Rock, NC.

THE PUPS: 8

I must say, I LOVE taking Dakota to the mountains.  He’s so good, that when I don’t have to worry about other dogs around I pretty much leave him off leash the entire time.  And he LOVES it.  Sticks right by me, but clearly loves the comparative freedom.  Plus, he’s up for anything, despite being a bit older.

Murph has also turned out to be quite the mountain dog.  While I still have to keep him on leash almost all the time (his nose is known to lead him far away at quick rates), his endurance is INSANE.  We took him on a six hour hike on Sunday to the highest peak on Grandfather mountain, and he was still pulling on the leash at the bottom.  Pretty impressive 🙂

All in all the three pups got along fabulously, minus a little humping, a little whining and some minor growling… overall a huge improvement 🙂

SATAN’S BALLS: 9

In the downtime between climbs/hikes, we hung out at our super chill cabin and enjoyed some delicious food.  My favorite had to be Laura’s homemade Satans Balls.  Made out of cake mix and icing, dipped in melted chocolate and then add sprinkles, they were HEAVEN.  Except for the fact that they were small and there were a lot.  Pretty sure I made myself sick off them on Saturday night.  Although that didn’t stop me from eating more for breakfast on Sunday morning…

CALLOWAY PEAK: 9.5

On Sunday Scott, Laura, Mazzi, Paul and I headed out to tackle Grandfather Mountain. After a couple side stops along the way, we finally found the entrance we wanted.  We hiked as a group for awhile, and about 2.5 miles in Laura, Paul and Mazzi headed back while Scott and I went on a search for the summit.

While it ultimately took about 3 1/2 hours to get to the peak, it was TOTALLY worth it.  The highest point on Grandfather Mountain, it provided a 360 view like none I’ve seen in a LONG time.  It was incredible.

-.5 for the snow/ice we encountered at the last steep pitch.  It resulted in several almost-falls, soaking wet/freezing feet (I was wearing my five-fingers) and a soaked/freezing butt (after deciding this was the safest way to descend).  However, we made it safely!

SUNRISE OVER PRICE LAKE: 10

This morning we decided to get up super early and hike to a lake about 2 miles away to check out the sunrise.  While we got a bit lost on the way there, luckily some nice folks on the Blue Ridge Parkway picked us up and brought us there.

Totally worth the early rise, both for the company and for the view.  Don’t get to see this very often…

THE COMPANY’S CLIMBING: 10!

We left Holloway Mountain with a lot to be proud of… Ben’s first time leading trad, Laura and Katie’s first outdoor ascent’s, Scott’s first climb outdoors with us, Liz’s first lead climb in the morning, and Jay, Paul, Mazzi and I looking better than ever.  Not much to complain about here 🙂

All in all another fabulous framily vacation.  Stay tuned for the movie- hopefully with audio this time!!!

North Carolina Weekend

While the past few weekends were exciting and full of visitors (first the parents, then DC friends, then the grandparents), it was kinda nice to be visitor-free this weekend.  I got a chance to clean my apartment, keep up with schoolwork, and feel okay taking on another quick job.

Plus, I got to enjoy North Carolina and the first real signs of spring 🙂

I started the weekend with a bunch of spring cleaning and schoolwork, but then headed to my very first women’s hockey game here in the Triangle.  I went to support my friend Lauren, and couldn’t help but crack up when I first saw her…

GOALIE GEAR: 6.5

-1: Super expensive

-1: Difficult to wash (I know this from all the stories I’ve heard about lugging it across town to a special laundromat that has machines big enough to fit it.)

-1: Walk like a penguin.

+3: It keeps you safe from the pretty dangerous, fast moving puck.

+3.5: It’s HILARIOUS.  I loved watching the goals try and move around on the ice with all this stuff on.  Maybe you have to see it…

DECEPTIVE RED MAN: 2

So it’s hard to tell from this picture, but Lauren’s team was lucky enough to sport NC State’s old uniforms.  So they rocked the white, black and red colors.  The other team, was blue.  That is, most of them.  There was one guy on the team (yup, they were playing an all guys team) who showed up in a red, white and black uniform.  RIDICULOUS.  How are they going to let you get on the ice and play with the opposite teams’ colors, in a sport where everyone’s vision is severely impaired by giant masks???  This should definitely be against the rules.

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt with 2 points, only hoping that he’s so poor this was literally the only outfit he could get donated.  Still don’t think it’s legit.

On the way to Wake Forest after the game I spotted this rooftop carrier…

WEIRD OLD-SCHOOL ROOFTOP CARRIER: 8

I’ve never seen anything like it, so I couldn’t resist taking a picture.  It has character, that’s for sure.  And the folks driving were young, so I picture this being a rooftop carrier passed through the family, having traveled all over the country 6 times.  For that, I love it.

-1: Pretty bulky, I can imagine making it difficult to store.

-1: It looks pretty heavy… would make me worry about the roof on a car that appears as old as the carrier.

NORTH CAROLINA SKIES: 10

Yes, I know I’ve rated this before.  And no, I don’t care.  Because I love North Carolina and our skies are the best in the world.

VALENTINE’S DAY: 7.5

Finally made it to Wake Forest where we decided to head back to Raleigh to see ‘Valentine’s Day’.  I’ve wanted to see this since, well, Valentine’s Day, and was happy that I finally made time.  It was exactly what I wanted 🙂

A bunch of celebrities participating in a bunch of different stories, Love Actually style, that always left you guessing what was going to happen next.  Plus, Ashton was the lead and he was so good in the role.  I just genuinely love that guy for seeming to be such a good person.

RUNNING WITH MURPH: 9

This earns a 9 almost entirely because of this:

The run part is good, and I’m actually enjoying it more recently (still -1 for knee pain), but the best part is when we get home and Murphy collapses and sleeps the day away.  LOVE. IT.

Sunday I hit up the wall in the morning, finished up some schoolwork in the afternoon, and headed to our framily dinner that night at Laura & Snook’s new place.

The birthday celebrating, framily time, singing and overall atmosphere were all great (per usual), however my favorite…

SNUGGLING WITH PRESTON: 10

I love cuddling with Murph (and Kota), but he’s a pretty stubborn, independent little guy, and doesn’t always go along with mandatory cuddle time.  Preston, however, was sleepy and just nuzzled right in.  I could move him around without worrying he would jump off my lap, and I must say it was the perfect cuddle session.

And now, a great start to the week, Molly and Jason are getting married!!!  After following them through all the drama of The Bachelor, two seasons ago, I’m SO excited to watch this big event!  Expect an update with full ratings tomorrow 🙂

Until then, just living for the tens!