Going way back to February

So...I told you that I would eventually finish blogging about February, and really the only part left is my visit to see Chris. Since I'm leaving again on Thursday, I figured I better get on that! It all started the Friday before Valentine's Day. I got on a plane to fly to Baltimore, where Chris would pick me up, and we would head to New Jersey. The flight over was pretty darn interesting, because I ended up sitting next to a girl whose boyfriend was in the same school as Chris, just a few months ahead. We ended up talking for almost the entire 4 hour trip.

After Chris picked me up at the airport, we headed to Chap's Pit Beef. It really does belong on Diners, Drive Ins and was in the parking lot of a strip club! I would have taken more pictures, but let's just say that we were a little out of place and I didn't want to draw attention to us being there. The food was pretty darn amazing though, I recommend it if you are ever in Baltimore. I did manage to get one picture of Chris eating his sandwich. Think a really good homemade version of Arby's...they even have their own version of Horsey Sauce.

From there, we started the trek to New Jersey. I never realized how much toll roads really are everywhere in the Northeast. We must have taken at least 4 of them. At one point I had to start driving because Chris was so tired, luckily I was still on Arizona time, so it wasn't a big deal. Plus, we were already in New Jersey, and with the help of Tom Tom, I managed to get us all the way to the house. We got inside and pretty much went to bed...we were both exhausted.

We woke up the next day and got around to finally eating breakfast. That was an experience in itself. For those who have ventured to the EC before, you might have been fortunate enough to visit Wawa. Wawa is this amazing convenience store where you can order your food from a touch screen at a giant counter, and they have people making it for you. The food was soooo good too. Not your typical convenience store taquito or anything. I ended up with a breakfast sandwich on a baguette, and Chris got a breakfast sandwich, and a breakfast bowl. We also got a box of Enteman's donuts and ate the entire box in one day. It was bad, but oh so good. After that we ventured to the library, which has the best selection of DVD's ever. Basically, the library gets a ton of money from the state, and they spend a lot of it on DVDs. We probably watched 6 or so while we were there. We also went grocery shopping, and finished off Valentine's day with Buffalo Chicken pizza and Valentine's Day cake. It's our own little tradition, but each year Chris makes me a heart shape cake. We certainly had a debate over the flavor, but I ended up winning, going with strawberry cake and cream cheese frosting.

Sunday we headed out for pancakes at Uncle Bill's. It was crazy how many people where there. It's one of the few places open there in the winter, so it seemed like everyone in Avalon was there. I had peanut butter pancakes, and was pretty happy, although it only came with pancakes, no sides, and the price wasn't super great. Still good though. After that we hung out until the afternoon and headed out to Stone Harbor and Wildwood. Stone Harbor is a neighboring town, where we did some window shopping, and then headed to WIldwood. We had intended on going to Duffers, my ice cream place of choice, however, it turned out they were closed :( I was very sad, so we ended up going to another diner that Chris used to frequent since we were both pretty hungry. It wasn't the the same, but the food was good. That night we hung out, watched movies, and I made lasagna for dinner.

Monday we just hung out and went to the beach until it was time for us to leave. We had another dose of Wawa on the way back to Maryland, and I had a pretty uneventful flight back. That pretty much sums it up. I did manage to go running once, and we walked on the beach twice. It was amazing how many people were bundled up walking on the beach. Here's a last shot of us on the jetty.

PS. This time around, I am bringing my computer, so I should be able to stay up to date with this trip.


Happy Birthday Dad!

An official Happy Birthday blog-style to my dear Dad, James Richard Schroeder (known to everyone as Jim, or Jimmy if you are one of the few). Yesterday was the big day, celebrating number 52 in style. My parents and I went to a new place for dinner, The TexAz Grill, for some chicken fried steak. I must admit it was probably the best chicken fried steak I've ever eaten. I'll post the pictures from dinner when I can get home and download them. The portions were monstrous!

Happy Birthday Dad from your only child! You've always done so much for me, especially over the past 6 months. I am overwhelmed with how much you've helped me out, from my 6:00am call about a "crisis" to coming over to mow my lawn, to walking my dog almost every single day at 5:00pm. And I certainly can't forget the countless weekends you and mom were at our house helping us shovel thousands of pounds of rock.


What's The Weather?

That's been my question the last week or so. More specifically, what's the weather going to be like in Virginia when I go visit Chris next week. Normally I know its just going to be cold, so I pack up my sweaters and uggs and jacket and call it good. This time around is going to be a little more stressful. First, I am only taking a carry on. That's right, no checked bags for this notorious over packer. The reason? I am flying on an employee pass (thanks aunt cathi!) so I am essentially flying standby. I don't want to mess with trying to check a bag at the very last minute. Second stresser, the weather there is wacko. It was 85, then it snowed the next day. Now, thanks to, it's saying that its going to be in the upper 50's and lower 60's during the day. I'm sorry, but it hasn't been in the 50's and 60's during the day here in Arizona for at least a month or so. I don't even remember what the 50's feel like. What did I wear during that time? So needless to say, I spend way too much time thinking to myself about what I'm going to pack. I want to look cute but casual, after all, I'll be spending a lot of time with Marines, not a whole lot of fashionistas there. I am going to a big bbq though for all of the men and women at Chris' school on Friday, and it's the first time I'm meeting a lot of his friends and instructors.

Any ideas of things I should bring? I bought these shoes yesterday, hoping that I can get away with them and a pair of flip flops and heels for the entire 4 days. Seriously, I take any and all suggestions!



I think this picture pretty much sums up what happened when I returned to my parent's house last week...

I found my Ralph Lauren heels sitting nicely on the dresser, yet one seemed to be a little "different" than the other. Needless to say I was not thrilled. My mom kept trying to blame Gulliver, their 11 year old yellow lab who is a retired seeing eye dog and who probably never chewed on anything in his life. We don't know who the true culprit was, but it was either their (my) beagle Jack or Peanut. Or a combo of both. Either way, the incident required me to buy some new shoes this past weekend, since I wear brown heels at least 2-3 times a week. Glad to report I found some new cute ones at DSW for $20 on the clearance rack! So I guess I can secretly say thank you Jack and/or Peanut for forcing me to buy some new shoes, when just last week I commented that I could probably use some new ones.

Oh and Happy St. Patrick's Day to all! I just got home from a nice Irish meal with family, but will have to blog about that later. Time to get ready for bed, since I have an early wake up call tomorrow!


Shamrocks and Cat Burglars

This weekend was pretty uneventful. I did all the usual...laundry, a few workouts, and of course, baking. Lately I've been having this huge urge to bake, which isn't the best since no one is home to eat these things but me. On Saturday, during a trip to Wal-Mart for some pool chemicals, I walked down the baking aisle, just to see if they had mini m&ms in a bag, something I've been searching for ever since I made some cookies a month or so ago and couldn't find them. Well low and behold, they had them! I actually didn't buy them, dumb I know, but I saw the ever tasty Andes mint baking bits and started to have a craving. I had them at home, and I actually went home and made Andes mint cookies. They were so good! I made one tray, ate a few, and then put the rest of the dough in the fridge. It was for my own good at that point! I also made some enchilada casserole that night, but I'll save that recipe for another day, it's definitely one worth writing about.

Sunday was filled with more baking. I wanted to send Chris something to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I know that they won't be celebrating since it's during the week and they are in the middle of a really intense schedule, but I thought he might like something baked. I went round and round about what to make, first starting with brownies, and then ending up with shamrock sugar cookies. They were super easy to make. Sunday I cut out the shamrocks and baked them.

Last night (Monday) I finished them up by frosting and adding some sprinkles. I frosted them with a method I hadn't exactly tried before...dipping. You create a frosting that's a little on the thin side, not runny, but something that is more than spreadable, and you actually dip one side of the cookie in the frosting. I was somewhat skeptical, but they turned out great! As you can see, the frosting ends up looking really smooth. I think you are supposed to dunk them further and then let the excess frosting drip off while the cookies are on a cooling rack, however, I only have one really small cooling rack, so I tried to eliminate this step, and just let them cool on wax paper and didn't dunk them as far.

Before the frosting dried completely, I added a variety of sprinkles. I promise they don't look so 3rd grader in real life. I was really pleased overall with how they turned out.


Now onto the second part of the title of this blog. Last night after a long night of frosting cookies, watching the Dancing with the Stars premiere, and some other odds and ends, I was finally going to bed at 11. I rarely stay up that late to begin with, and I had to be up at 5:00 this morning for my workout, so I was really ready to hit the sack. Just as I was getting comfy (literally, I had just tucked myself and Peanut in bed) I heard the most horrific crash of cans and glass coming from the kitchen. Most people might have been scared to death, especially being solo in the house with the 7 lb. chihuahua, not much of a watch dog, but the second it happened I knew exactly what it was. Hawkins had managed to jump onto the kitchen counter (something I highly frown on) and ran into my stash of empty coke cans. The whole reason for the stash is that I crush them and cash them in, but I usually only do it every few weeks. In the meantime they sit on the counter above the dishwasher. Well it just so happens that last night I had put a drinking glass on the counter, and not in the dishwasher, thinking I'd just do it in the morning. Side Note: I HATE when Chris does this. I get so frustrated with him when he takes his dishes and puts them on the counter immediately over the dishwasher, and not IN the dishwasher. So the one time I do it, disaster strikes. But back to the story. I guess when he ran into the cans, he knocked the glass onto the tile floor, and of course it shattered into a million pieces. Needless to say I had a fun time at 11pm cleaning up glass and soda cans, all while trying to keep two animals away from any glass shards. Thank goodness for that new Dyson vacuum (a Christmas present from my parents)!

Award Please / February in Review #1

I think I win the award for the worst blogger lately. It's been way too long since I've written anything, but to be honest, I haven't been all that motivated. I'm going to try real hard to get all these updates done, along with the other stuff that's going on in my life. Enjoy my first February Review in the meantime!
February in Review #1
Alright, so in hopes of getting everything posted before next February, here is my first review for birthday. While my actual birthday is on the 10th, the celebration started on the 6th with my family party that I posted about here.

I guess my birthday started even before then if you count the fact that I got to open a gift early. Chris had told me he had ordered me something online and that it would be arriving at the house. I had no idea what it could be, and then the week before the big day, it showed up. I was so completely shocked to find out it was a video camera!!! I have been wanting one for a long time, and I can't believe that he remembered enough to make it a gift. I was on the phone with him when I opened it and I was probably almost screaming with excitement. It's small and records in HD which is perfect for us! I can't wait to use it a lot in the coming years.

On my actual birthday, my parents and I went to a local restaurant called Cowboy Ciao. We had never been there before, but since I was pretty apathetic this year about my dinner choice, we decided to give it a try. Classic me, I had already checked out the menu online before we ever went to dinner. There were a lot of options, so I figured that I would wait until we got there. The place was really cute inside, sort of a southwestern upscale shabby chic type of thing going on. The first thing we checked out was the wine menu. It was a HUGE book, with wines from tens of dollars to literally thousands of dollars. I don't think my dad would have gone for the $$$ bottles, so we found a reasonably priced bottle, which was very good. So good in fact, I took a photo to remember the name.
The food was just as great. For an appetizer we had the chicken and waffles, a little more upscale take on some of my favorite soul food. On a side note, if you are in the Phoenix area, I suggest going to Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles. If you ever need a sidekick, I'm it! But I digress...after the appetizers we dug right into our main course. In an effort to mix it up, we each ordered something different. I was not disappointed in the least with my choice, a pork ribeye, which is is the same cut as a beef ribeye, just with pork. It was so juicy and tender and pretty much the best pork I've ever had. It came with a side of crispy mac and cheese, which was sooooo tasty. Here's a recap of our meals.

My mom and her short ribs.

Me and my pork ribeye
My dad and his stuffed pork chop

After dinner, we checked out the dinner menu, but nothing was calling my name, so I requested to go to the Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl is an old time ice cream parlor in the heart of Scottsdale, that's been around since the 50's I believe. It's even been featured in the Family Circus cartoons because the cartoonist was from Arizona. I don't think I really even needed dessert that night, but I insisted on ordering the brownie sundae, which is my favorite thing to eat there. I pretty much consumed the entire thing. Hello calories!!!! But they were birthday calories so they didn't count :)

Overall it was a great day! Next trip back east!