Rednecks & Kitty Cats {MIMM}

Before we get to the marvelous in my Monday, I have to take a minute to address something that is not-so-marvelous.

My heart goes out to all the people that were hurt or otherwise impacted by what happened today in Boston. Although what happened today was horrible, I have to say it’s pretty marvelous to see the running community come together to support one another at a time like this.

(Happy birthday Katie!)

Marvelous is… My 22nd birthday is tomorrow! Actually it’s in 1.5 hours, I came in to the world bright and early at 12:30 AM.

Marvelous is… Joint birthday parties! My friend’s birthday is Friday so we had a joint party over the weekend. The theme? Rednecks and cats. No joke, we are a creative bunch.

party

The rednecks.

dale

NASCAR-themed temporary tattoos may have been involved.

champagne

Along with prop 40s you couldn’t convince any of us to drink. We try to keep it classy.

Cats were not well represented because cat apparel does not exist after Halloween, I did rock some Hello Kitty rings.

hellokitty

Try not to be too jealous.

Marvelous is… beautiful weather and weekend hikes. A very muddy, but fun 5 miles.

hike1

hike2

I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was worried about my camera landing in a pile of mud, which isn’t really ideal.

We did the Boone Fork Trail Loop, which is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the trail is the perfect combination of beautiful views, uphill climbs and creek hopping. My buns were on FIRE by the end, so worth it though.

Marvelous is… birthday cake.

cake2

cake4

I used Betty Crocker’s gluten-free yellow cake mix for the base, and because we all know I can’t just leave things be, I added a 1/4 cup of peanut butter to the mix which was a very delicious choice. The frosting is just Cool Whip with cocoa powder and cinnamon mixed in. Easy, cheap, and trans-fat free. I can get behind that.

I made my own, which my friends thought was really sad I made my own cake (they did offer to make one for me, I’m just stubborn), but since I love to bake I actually really enjoyed it. Lame? Maybe, but I got to lick the bowl which was more than worth it.

And the gluten-filled cake for the gluten-eaters:

cake3

My friend did a pretty impressive job on the decoration! I definitely scraped off the cat so I could eat it myself 🙂

Plus a few other party foods:

brownies

Gluten-free brownies. AND my favorite part:

float

Beer floats. Well, A beer float, no one else was feeling quite so adventurous but you better believe I went there. The combo was actually pretty tasty.

Marvelous is… Engagements!

engaged

These two got engaged on Saturday! I’m so excited for them! Plus the ring really offsets her new dragon tattoo.

Marvelous is… Sunday school cookouts! We got together at our small groups leader’s house and had a delicious lunch. The carnivores had barbecue chicken sandwiches, but they were nice enough to cook up a few veggie burgers for me and the other vegetarian in the group. I didn’t take any pictures but it was a good time!

Marvelous is… look-a-like clay figurines. The couple that leads our small group has a very artsy 10 year old daughter and she made us all figurines that look like us.

model

That little girls is seriously talented! My figurine is only about 1.5″ tall and the detail is pretty awesome. I’m adding it to the collection of drawing she’s made for me over the past few Sundays!

Marvelous is… Best Body Bootcamp Phase Two! I’m already sore from today’s workout! I’m already looking forward to the rest of the week’s workouts!

Marvelous is… 5 days until the Tar Heel 10-miler! Eep! I’m both super nervous and super excited!

What made your Monday Marvelous?

Are you a fan of themed parties? What’s the most ridiculous theme party you’ve ever been to?

What’s your favorite flavor of cake? I’m not sure that there’s a flavor of cake I don’t like, but red velvet and carrot cake are pretty high up there! Peanut butter and chocolate is always a winner too 🙂

Spring Time {MIMM}

Happy Monday!

Can I just say that there’s nothing more wonderful thank waking up to beautiful, sunny, 65 degree weather on a Monday morning? Talk about starting the week off right.

(Thanks Katie!)

Marvelous is… Art crawl. Lots of good art, lots of good food. Not to mention I got a free handmade cup from a gallery featuring clay pieces, I’m actually drinking coffee out of it right now (of course!).

handmade clay cup

Marvelous is… drinks with friends on a Friday night.  I’m not your typical party-obsessed college student, and I prefer quieter nights with friends than a wild and crazy party, but sometimes a little bar hopping is necessary to your college experience.

Photo0980

The bartender convinced my friend that the 32oz beer was a much better deal than the pint, which it was, it was also the size of her freaking head (don’t worry mom and dad, mine’s the normal sized beer in the bottom of the picture).

shots

Shots, shots, shots!

I asked the bartender for the least-sweet shooter they had, and I’m pretty sure he lied because it tasted like straight up limeade. Bummer. I got drink redemption with a Jim Bean on the rocks later on in the night. I’m such an old man, I don’t play with that fruity stuff.

Marvelous is… this freaking dessert:

cinnamon sensation macados

A cinnamon roll the size of my face topped with vanilla ice cream. Whattttt. So. Good. I’m pretty sure the restaurant pumps the smell of cinnamon into every corner of the restaurant to make you want to order one of these bad boys. Sometimes a little gluten is worth it.

Marvelous is… hiking trips with fellow group fitness instructors!

glen burney trail waterfall blowing rock nc

glen burney trail waterfall blowing rock nc

We had plans to go to Hawksbill Mountain in Morganton, but only 4 of us were able to make it so we stayed closer to Boone and tried the Glen Burney trail in Blowing Rock. I’ve done the hike once before and it’s a nice little hidden gem in Blowing Rock. The hike is about 1.5 miles ending at a super gorgeous waterfall. It’s quite the workout because you hike down to the waterfall, which means the return hike is uphill the entire way. My booty got a serious workout on the way back!

hiking

All four of us! I promise I’m not that short, the rock we were on was slanted.

Marvelous is… taking time to cook a REAL dinner. Or as real as a college dinner for one can be. I’ve been in an eggs + frozen veggie rut and it feels good to get creative in the kitchen again!

kale salad

Kale salad with lacinato kale (my first time trying it and I think I like it better than curly kale, it tastes less grass-y), baby portobella mushrooms, roasted sweet potatoes and eggplant, lemon juice, garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt, pepper and that last couple drops of my bottle of Bragg’s liquid aminos. So fresh and clean tasting.

kale salad

Kale, sweet potato, curry powder, and apple cider vinegar

roasted eggplant and sweet potato

Roasted eggplant and sweet potatoes (I think I see a theme happening…)

vegetarian dinner

Cinnamon and curry roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach with onion and tomato, with sauteed sliced eggplant on the side.

Not much protein happening here, but dinner’s usually finished up with a cup of greek yogurt to balance things out.

Marvelous is… today’s special guest lecturer in my Dance History class. He came to talk with us about the history of musical theatre and he was quite the character. He would randomly start singing parts of the lecture and danced through half of it as well. I imagine if Mr. Rogers had a doctorate in Dance History and gave college lectures, it would go something like that. He was quite the character.

Oh Mr Rogers, I still miss you dearly.

We also watched a Broadway documentary narrated by Julie Andrews, everything with Julie Andrews is marvelous. Everything.

Marvelous is… SPRING WEATHER. In Boone. FINALLY! It felt amazing to walk out the door this morning and not have to grab a jacket.

I love beautiful days in Boone because all the hippies, slack-liners, and puppies come out. Not to mention Boone is absolutely gorgeous when the weather decides to cooperate, there’s no better place to be.

What made your Monday marvelous?

Do you like hiking? Where are your favorite places to hike?

What’s you’re favorite thing about spring? Flowers, beautiful weather and my birthday!

Rough Ridge

Sunday afternoon I headed out with my roommates for a beautiful afternoon hike. Gotta take advantage of the beautiful fall weather while it lasts. And enjoy the Parkway before all the Floridians come and clog it up. I’m talking to you leaf-lookers.

We decided to tackle the Rough Ridge Trail just off the Blue Ridge Parkway (mile marker 302.5 if you’re interested!). Rough Ridge is one of my trails. It’s difficult, but fairly short, so you’re not dead by the time you reach the top.

And the view are AMAZING.

The hike begins with a small bridge over a waterfall.

Not a shabby way to start a hike.

The trail to the top is completely uphill and a little rough, hence the name. But it’s one of those hikes that looks far more intimidating than it really is. The trail is covered in large rocks which are kind of like stairs all the way to the top, which makes things pretty navigable.

About a third of the way in you reach a boardwalk which leads you out onto some large rocks. Oh yeah, and this view:

I spy an old man mountain, which is actually Table Rock Mountain. It looks so close but it’s actually two counties away, it’s amazing how far you can see. Apparently on a really clear day you can see all the way to Charlotte. Which is a 2 hour drive on the interstate from where we were.

This rock reminded me of the Lion King (:

The road is level with the parking lot you start at, and we’re not even halfway to the top yet!

After a quick photo break we continued our way up the trail. There’s a second amazing overlook about 2/3 of the way to the top, this overlook was much less crowded than the one closer to the bottom (apparently we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the beautiful weather) so we took a moment to soak it all in.

Roommates! Minus one who was being responsible and doing homework.

We peeled ourselves away from the beautiful views and headed the rest of the way up the trails. Even though there are so beautiful stops along the way to the top, making it to the top is so worth it. Plus you feel pretty awesome when you look down and see how far up you are from where you started. You end up climbing about 480 ft from the start of the trail.

What’s up mountains?

They’re definitely called the Blue Ridge Mountains for a reason. Fun fact: the mountains are blue because the trees release hydrocarbons into the air which causes a bluish haze to form around them. You learn something new everyday. I love the blue, it makes the mountains looks like an ocean.

That’s small looking bridge is actually the Grandfather Mountain swinging bridge, which is in the next county over.

Fuzzy caterpillar! This was as close as I could get with my zoom lens.

We eventually worked our way back down the trail, which is about twice as fast as walking up and headed back to Boone. I need to come back when the leaves start to change, I can’t even imagine how amazing the views will look. If I can make it past all the Floridians that is (no offense to Floridians, we just get a lot of tourists this time of year because we have actual seasons, and I’m just lucky to live in a really beautiful area. But really, drive the speed limit).

To say I’m a little sad it’s Monday is an understatement. My weekend was fantastic and I did not want it to end, and to top it off my Monday was kicked off with a test. Fun stuff. Back to the weekend!

Friday

I was late to my Friday class but my professor was late-er, best way to start the weekend. After class I went to a 45-minute spin class, which is the perfect length for a spin class because it’s long enough to get super-sweaty but not long enough that you are dead at the end. I also lifted some weights, gotta work on those guns.

Chobani and blog reading makes for the best recovery meal. Also sitting in the student union while you’re still super sweaty and kind of smelly (the gym is on the top floor of the student union). No shame.

Friday night my roommates and I made a late night fro yo run. It was glorious. It had been a month since I had fro yo. Major life problems right there.

Tart, peanut butter(!) and coffee flavored fro yo (the trifecta of amazing flavors) with raspberries, chocolate chips, peanut butter drizzle and Reeses cups. De-freaking-licious. I could have eaten like 3 more cups worth. Luckily I didn’t.

We made a quick run to the grocery store next door because one of my roommates needed to pick up some body wash and some how I left with this:

A box of Bakers chocolate and a bottle of Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale. I think the cashier was judging me a little bit. The pumpkin ale was super delicious and I was excited that Food Lion sells single bottles of beer because I’m incapable of drinking a whole six pack, it’s sad.

Saturday

Saturday started off bright and early with the Mayview Madness 5K

Look at that sneaky foam roller in the background.

The run was a ton of fun, but the first half was uphill and I’m still sore from it. Recap coming sometime in the next couple of days, pinky swear.

After my race I headed straight to the farmer’s market. Apparently I have no problem with public sweaty-ness/smelly-ness. I left with lots of delicious produce for the rest of the week. The farmer’s market is always the highlight of my weekend, I’ll probably break down in tears next month when it closes.

Saturday night my friends and I got together for a potluck/spa/girls night. We’re bad at pinning down specific plans, if you couldn’t tell. I got to break in my crock pot with a vegetarian chili.

Well I called it chili but it was really a find-what-you-can-in-my-sparse-apartment-cabinets-and-throw-it-in-the-crock-pot, but that’s a pretty long name. I used a can of chickpeas, black beans, corn and diced tomatoes, a chopped onion, green lentils, a diced poblano pepper, veggie stock and water with some pepper and garlic. It could have used more seasoning but the only seasonings I own at the moment are black pepper and cinnamon. College problems. My friends like it though and ate the entire crock pot’s worth so I’ll take it.

We also had green bean casserole, corn bread muffins, cheesecake and my roommate brought mojito mix. It was quite the spread.

We played Quelf, which if you’ve never played you totally should because it’s hilarious.

 

It involves things like singing, square dancing, story-writing, and hiding the box the game came in under your shirt. You know, typical board game stuff.

Then we made facials out of avocados, coconut oil and honey and painted our nails. Then learned how to wobble. I love pretending like I’m still 14, and now my nails are teal! Big deal since I haven’t painted my nails in like a year, I’m too antsy to wait for them to dry.

It was such a fun night, sometimes you just need some hardcore girl time.

Sunday

The weather on Sunday was absolutely gorgeous, so my roommates and I headed out for a hike that afternoon. My legs were pretty dead from Saturday’s 5K but the views were so worth it.

But a better recap of that is coming soon too. Man, I owe you guys lots of posts.

And now it’s Monday and that sucks a little bit (actually a lot a bit), how long til Friday?

 

What’s you’re favorite crock pot meal? I’m hooked on it. It’s my new favorite kitchen appliance, especially now that it’s starting to get a little chilly outside!

Do you like hiking?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Weekend.

It’s the last weekend before summer, only 4 days, 3 exams, 2 projects and 1 presentation stand between me and sweet summer freedom.

Friday afternoon I headed up to Howard’s Knob to take some graduation photos for my friend Jessi. You can literally see the entire town of Boone from the top and the views are stunning.

Image

Hey Boone!

Image

Image

Graduate! I’ll miss her next year, now I have to find a new hiking buddy.

Afterwards we headed to Rough Ridge for hike. I love Rough Ridge, it’s a challenging hike, but not exhausting and the views are amazing. It’s also really rocky, which I think is fun, it tends to make things more interesting.

Image

Not even at the top yet.

Image

Those are the only pictures we got complements of Jessi’s iphone, I was sick of lugging around the DSLR at this point.

The weather was beautiful the entire way and it was a great hike. Rough Ridge is a favorite.

Post-hike I head straight out to dinner with my roommate. We ate at Black Cat for a celebratory end of classes dinner. It was delicious, as always. I switched it up and got the “Gang of Four” which is steamed carrots, mushrooms, and broccoli served over rice. I was trying to be nice to my stomach and go gluten-free, it was good but the burritos are much tastier. But their burritos are tough to compete with.

A 10pm frozen yogurt run was necessary.

Image

There is frozen yogurt under all that fruit, I promise. Tart + fruit is my favorite combo.

Image

And the night was finished up with some cheap wine in a mason jar. We like to keep things classy around here.

Today is the Sticky Bun Run! I’m so excited!

Creepy Crawlies.

This afternoon some friends and I went walking on the Price Lake Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Image

The trail was a 2.3 mile loop around Price Lake. The weather was nice and the lake was really pretty. The wildlife not so much.

It rained quite a bit yesterday so the trail was pretty muddy (Toms might have been a poor shoe choice). Apparently the rain made all the critters wanted to come out to play. We ran into:

A snake. Funnily enough, when we ran into it we were talking about all the crazy animals we’ve run into while hiking (there was a cow incident once). Snakes are a new one. And hopefully not a reoccurring one.

Image

When you go hiking with a biology major, you will have to stop while she catches tadpoles. And then she’ll make you take a picture of it.

Image

She was very excited about finally catching one. We found a hidden Mickey too.

There were lots of beaver dams:

Image

And other beaver evidence

Image

But no beavers.

 No Biebers either.

It’s probably a good thing we didn’t find and beavers (or Biebers), I’ve heard they’re surprisingly vicious.

Pure terror.

It was a nice little trek through the woods. Minus the snake. It was nice to get out while the weather was nice because it’s been pretty gross all week.

Tomorrow I’m going for a 5 mile run (yikes!), I’m staying positive, I will do it and it will be awesome. I’ve still got my eyes on a 10k in May. Then I’m chaining myself to my laptop and getting some work done. So much to do before the end of next week. Luckily next week is the last week of class! Good thing too, I don’t think I’m going to make it much longer. So ready for summertime! And sleep.

Grandfather Mountain

I headed out to lunch with my friend Jessi after finishing the Autism Speaks U 5K (more on that later I promise). We decided on Coyote Kitchen, one of my favorite restaurants in the Boone area. Coyote Kitchen serves what they “Southwest Caribbean Soul Food” I just call it delicious. I ordered the Moab Boat

(Photo was swiped off their website, I’m terrible at taking food pictures)

“Coconut rice, butter beans, sweet potatoes, grilled tofu, fried plantains, roasted corn and broiled jack cheese” served with a side of cranberry chipotle salsa. Vegetarian comfort food at its finest right there. The best meal I’ve had in a while, that’s for sure.

If you’re ever in Boone be sure to check out Coyote Kitchen, they’re food is delicious and they are extremely vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free friendly. They’re a little on the more expensive side for the minimally employed college student like myself (my meal was $9), but it is a real treat whenever I get the opportunity to eat there.

With full and satisfied bellies we headed up to Grandfather Mountain. In April Grandfather Mountain has a $2 admission special for students, so Jessia and I decided it would be a great day to take advantage it. This was actually my first time going to Grandfather Mountain and it was a lot of fun.

Our admission price got us a fun audio tour CD to listen to in the car, it was very informative. The banjo background music totally set the mood, and I’m excited to listen to it in my car everywhere I go now. It’s the little things.

Our first stop up the mountain was the Wildlife Habitats and the Nature Museum. We saw bears

He sleeps just like my cat. So cute. Well, cute when there’s a cement barrier between the two of us. Grandfather Mountain also has a cinnamon-colored black bear which is cool, but I didn’t get to see him.

Fun fact: black bears can run up to 35 miles per hour. Don’t try to out run a black bear.

And the otters were adorable. Otters always are. I think it’s especially adorable that they hold each other’s hands while they sleep so they don’t float away from each other. TOO CUTE. This otter keep doing back flips off the rocks into the water. The 8 year old kid inside of me died of cuteness every time.

They also had cougars, eagles and deer, but they were all hiding. So no pictures of those.

A fun fact about Grandfather Mountain, because the elevation is of Grandfather Mountain is drastically higher than everything else around it it has it’s own climate distinct climate and ecosystems. The climate is actually similar to Newfoundland Canada (thanks to Grandfather Mountain audio tour for all that fun information). My friend and I made more than a few Canada jokes after hearing that fun fact, we’re really mature.

Even the squirrels are different.

We then headed over to the Nature Museum. We saw

North Carolina gold.

Mushrooms with fun names.

And tree tumors. Yes, a tree tumor. I won’t lie, it grossed me out a little, but it was kinda cool at the same time, I think.

Our final stop up the mountain was a hike up to the famous mile high swinging bridge. We took the Bridge Trail which was was 0.4 miles each way, and the views were beautiful.


On a clear day you can see the Charlotte skyline, 80 miles away.

A random cave, we were trying to decide if it would be a bad idea to try to go inside. Or if bears live in there.

The under side of the swinging bridge.

The entrance to the swinging bridge. Elevation – 5,282. I wimped out on the bridge, I made it like 10 feet across and couldn’t keep going. I’m not a fan of heights. The views were so spectacular though, I couldn’t get over it.

As we headed back down the mountain we saw Forrest Gump Curve.

This stretch of road was featured in the movie when Forrest starts running across the country. Not my picture because I was trying to not drive off the side of the mountain.

Overall Grandfather Mountain was a lot of fun, and well worth the $2. I’d love to go back someday and hike more of the trails. They sound like fun, but really intense so I’d have to come prepared.

Upper Creek Trails

One of the best parts of living in the mountains? All the amazing (and FREE) hiking trails at your disposal. I try to get a hike in every weekend the weather’s nice. Beautiful sights with a built-in workout? I’ll take it.

Yesterday morning a friend and I ventured out to Burke County for a hike. We went hiking on Upper Creek Trails in Pisgah National Forest.

We followed a 1.5 mile loop past a gorgeous waterfall. You could start towards the upper falls or lower falls, each trail looped back around to the waterfall. Well, it was supposed to be a loop, we got lost at the bottom of the waterfall. Getting lost in the woods is a great way to start the morning. I exaggerate, we didn’t get that lost, the trail just mysteriously seemed to end and we couldn’t find anywhere that it picked back up again or any trail markers. Maybe we just have a bad sense of direction, but we turned around and went back the way we came. Which was uphill the whole way. My legs were on fire!

The highlight of the trail was this waterfall

Image

Which turned out to be much bigger than we realized as we hiked further down the trail

Image

So pretty. And you know it’s a good hike when you have to barefoot it at some points.

Image

Excuse the feet.

You had to cross the waterfall at the top to continue down the trail. The water was coldddd. But luckily no wipe outs.

Here’s so more pictures, because words don’t really cut it when it comes to nature.

Image

Image

Rock-hopping across the waterfall.

Image

Image

Image

Image

A leaf fell on this plant and the plant grew through a hole in the leaf. Plants are cool like that.

Image

Image

Nature can be pretty fun sometimes.

You should always go hiking with a biology major, you learn a lot. Especially when they’re into herpetology (that word makes me giggle, I’m real mature), I’ve learned more about North Carolina salamanders than I ever thought possible.

Post-hike I had a pretty low key evening. I hit up Earth Fare for some groceries. I know, grocery shopping on a Friday night, what a party animal. I got a couple of fun things, including a pluot:

Image

I just discovered these last year, and they’re so delicious. But they never seem to be in season for very long, or at least where I am, they disappear after a couple of weeks. Sad. I would try to stock up but I’d probably eat them all in one day. It’s been known to happen.

Well I’m off to get started on my Saturday!

What are your plans for the weekend?

Things I’m Loving

Honestly my life has been pretty eventful and not very blog-worthy. I’m up to my eyeballs in work, like every other student right now I’m sure. And the most exciting part of my day is getting to eat dinner. Sad. I do have some fun things planned for the weekend though!

I figured a list of fun things I love right now would be much more exciting than the lackluster events of my Thursday.

  1. YogaI’m on such a yoga kick lately and it’s doin my body good. I took a Power Yoga class tonight it was fantastic. I was feeling sick this morning (dizzy, nauseous and not fun) I even skipped out on my first class. Falling down or puking is generally not an encouraged class activity. I felt a little better as the day went on, then I went to yoga and felt 9842754829485x better. No exaggeration. I felt so strong and like a bad-ass yogi. Not so much, but nice to pretend. So, I’m going to listen to my body and do yoga all the live long day.

    Image

    We did side crow, one of my new favorite poses (source)

  2. Detangler: I have really fine hair, but a ton of it and get tangles like crazy. My hair is borderline dreadlocks after a post-run shower. So I bought this stuff:

    Image

    Twirlin' Swirlberry is a very grown up scent thank-you-very-much (source)

  3.  This body wash. It’s made with beer, which is kind of weird so of course I love it. It still smells a little like beer, which I think makes it more fun. I got a free sample of it the other weekend when I was at Earthfare. I’m such a sucker for free samples. They’re free. And the company is out Asheville, NC, which makes them local. Double bonus.
  4. THE WEATHER. It was gorgeous today. We’ve had a lot of thunderstorms lately, which is weird for Boone, but when it clears up it’s beautiful. And all the flowers are blooming, it’s so refreshing to see again.
    Image
  5. Salads I’ve had salads for lunch and dinner almost everyday. Excessive? Maybe, but I love vegetables. No one can say I’m not getting enough fiber, that’s for sure.
  6. Hiking I’m going tomorrow and I’m very excited, hopefully the weather will cooperate!

What are you loving lately?

Hiking Photos 3/23

Trails near the Greenwood parking lot:

ImageImage

Moses H. Cone House and path to Bass Lake:

ImageImageImageImage