This is my blog and I do what I want. Recently that has meant that I haven’t posted much, but it’s not for lack of subject matter. Tonight I’m attempting to document some of the best things I saw, ate, and did last year. Without further ado, here are my un-blogged thoughts from 2017!
Buffalo Chicken Panini
OK, I did actually blog about Zion, but no 2017 recap could possibly be complete without mentioning this epic trip. In January Matt and I spent three days exploring Zion canyon in Utah. It snowed and rained 90% of the time but we felt extremely fortunate to have this notoriously overcrowded national park nearly all to ourselves.
The best (yet sadly, unblogged) food that we made in January was a creamy, cheesy buffalo chicken panini. We assembled these rich sandwiches using buffalo chicken dip that we didn’t serve during our New Year’s Day brunch. (We made WAY too much food for brunch!)
Flip flop weather
Continuing on with the panini theme, in February we made insanely delicious short rib paninis with leftover braised short ribs from our Valentine’s Day dinner (recipe). Can you tell we got a panini press for Christmas in 2016?? ☺
February was unusually warm last year. (Actually, I’m typing this on February 15, 2018 after coming inside from running in a t-shirt… it was 64° today! These weird warm winter days are the best.) In February 2017 I sweated my way through the Pickle on the Road 5K in a 66° heatwave, finishing in 24 minutes even. Afterwards Piper, Matt and I relaxed outside and watched a thunderstorm roll in.
Pasta e Ceci
Piper and I kicked off the month of March with a busy weekend. Piper ran her fastest 5K (at the time) with me on a Saturday morning in 22:43 and then together we participated in a K9 Nosework seminar all day Sunday. We both slept well that night!!
The unblogged food of March was an absolute winner that I really need to make again (and share here!). Pasta e Ceci is an Italian stew of chick peas, pasta, and pancetta and this recipe marked the first time I ever cooked with anchovies. It wasn’t as hard as I imagined it would be and dinner was delicious.
I ran all the way here!
Smoked Pork Stromboli
In April I upped my running mileage and made it all the way to Sterling Pig Brewery in Media on one particularly epic outing. My 8 mile effort was rewarded with a fresh Snuffler IPA. Cheers! I also participated in four races in April, most notably the Haverford Twilight 5K, in which I bettered my non-downhill 5K personal best by more than 20 seconds (22:54).
In food news, Matt got a smoker in 2016 and he took advantage of April’s weather to smoke a pork shoulder. A BIG pork shoulder. We ate pulled pork sandwiches for a few days before getting more creative, with pork paninis (duh) and the delectable smoked pork and broccoli rabe stromboli pictured above.
Dining Room Floor!
Spring under the Awning
Matt and I have long had plans to renovate our house’s old sunken living room into a clean, modern dining room and this project finally began in May. Over the course of a week contractors ripped up the dirty white-ish carpet, installed a wet bed, and laid huge tile “planks” that look like wood and match our kitchen floors. More on this project in July.
After a big PR in the Broad Street Run in early May (1:21:28), I was content to reduce my running mileage and relax a little. Matt and I spent our evenings outdoors under our awning, sipping wine and listening to Piper thundering around the yard (she actually sounds like a herd of horses). We cooked countless meals on the grill, including a totally blog-worth steak and provolone calzone with peppers and onions.
Devon Horse Show
Matt gave my gym a facelift
This guy was much nicer than the porcupine Piper also found in June.
A busy month. We spent the evening watching jumpers at the Devon Horse Show, sampled wine in a summer rainstorm at our wedding venue on our fourth anniversary, and overhauled our home gym with new paint, switches and outlets, shelves, and a white board. I spend a lot of time in that room so it was a welcome change.
June was also the month that Piper bit a porcupine at the Hunting Camp (!!!!) and, in less exciting wildlife news, she found a tortoise in our yard. Piper’s nose also earned her a pass in the K9 Nosework Odor Recognition Test (ORT) for birch, despite the fact that she had nervous breakdown on the super slippery linoleum floor before the test even began.
Inspired by memories of our honeymoon in St. Lucia, I cooked Caribbean-style chicken roti and I actually made the roti flatbread! That was a lot of work. An easier but equally delicious June meal was Matt’s take on grilled patty melts, with swiss cheese, horseradish sauce and arugula.
Caribbean Chicken Roti
Grace Winery in the Rain
This month marked my favorite sunrise of the year. We were spending July 4th weekend with Matt’s family in the Poconos and Piper woke up at the crack of dawn. Unable to get her to settle back down, I took Pipes for a walk with my GoPro in hand and we arrived at Promised Land lake just as the sun came up over the horizon. I will purposefully wake up this early next time we’re there in the hopes of experiencing this quiet beauty again.
This month I also made a patriotic blueberry pie, hurled very sharp axes into a plywood target in Philadelphia, and supervised while Matt and two delivery men struggled to maneuver our massive and ridiculously heavy new live edge dining table into our house. The new table was step 2 in Operation Dining Room.
Finally, Matt and I spent a relaxing week in Cape May, NJ with his family. We rented bicycles (beach cruisers, complete with baskets!) and had a blast pedaling 20+ miles around the cape. We visited two wineries, multiple breweries, a peanut butter shop, a lighthouse, beaches, and, naturally, a Wawa.
I threw this axe!
Eclipse month! I tried to buy solar glasses but the manufacturer cancelled my order a week before the big day due to supply issues. Boo! Unable to find alternate approved glasses on such short notice, we made pinhole cameras and watched the eclipse in the parking lot at work and then at home in our backyard.
Inspired by all of our Cape May biking, I borrowed my mom’s bike (it doesn’t have a basket but it actually has gears!) and enjoyed exploring the length of the Chester Valley Trail and local roads. My go-to workout was to run the 5 uphill miles to my mom’s house, stop in for a glass of ice water, then bike the 5 downhill miles back home. Speaking of running, in August I raced for the first time since May and earned a blazing new PR of 6:20 in the Downhill Mile.
In other news, the zucchini plant in my garden that hadn’t produced any fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) suddenly started pumping out monster zucchinis in August, Piper honed her underwater retrieving skills in my mom’s pool, and Matt helped me make a towering fruit trifle for the annual YPP. (That’s Young People’s Party, for those of you who’ve made it this far.)
Ah, September. We made tons of blog-worth food this month, including cajun shrimp and grits, Moroccan Butternut Squash and Chick Pea Stew that looked just like the magazine picture, and, for the first time ever, HOMEMADE PIZZA DOUGH! I had always been intimidated by any recipe that called for yeast, but I finally bought the correct ingredients, found a not-too-scary-looking dough recipe, and just went for it. Matt and I celebrated our newfound pizza-making prowess by becoming “chefs for a night” for my mom and stepfather. It was a really good meal, if I do say so myself. (Also, the ricotta cheese on that pizza in the background is homemade too! Just a little wetter than I intended.)
Also in September, Piper competed at a mock Nosework trial and I crashed into a car during the vehicle portion of the search. (Don’t worry, she still found the odor, eventually!)
And finally, this month can’t be recapped without mentioned two events that DID make it on the blog: our glorious hike up Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park and my huge new personal best at the Pints in the Square 5K (22:03). What a month!
Cajun Shrimp and Grits
Chef for a Night
Just like the magazine
October was defined by races – five of them! – and a work trip that actually took me to the Philadelphia Convention Center for a few days. Usually we exhibit in far away places like Vegas and San Diego, so it was cool to be so close to home. One day I commuted in on the train with my brother (who also works in the family business) and I thoroughly enjoyed watching out the window as we rumbled by the many towns that make up Philadelphia’s Main Line. (I wrote my college thesis on this area and love its history.)
Speaking of the Main Line, my mom’s horse competed at Dressage at Devon this month! She ‘danced’ to a musical freestyle program on October 1st and Piper got to come along and watch. (Piper totally thought that this horse was real and pointed at it for a good 30 seconds before bashfully realizing her mistake.)
October was not a big month for cooking, but we did use our newfound dough-making ability to craft homemade spinach, sausage and ricotta strombolis. We should really make those again sometime.
My mom’s horse!
Stromboli with homemade dough
Matt and I traveled to Palm Beach for a long weekend in early November. We rented bikes (of course), ate tons of good food, and relaxed by the pool for hours on end. I get to return to Florida next month on a quick 3-day trip with my mom and I’m already looking forward to it!
In November I perfected my chocolate chip cookie recipe and Matt and I kept making more pizza. You might even say that pizza is the new panini around here. I ran off the calories from all of that wonderful food with three races, including one 5K with Piper in a new Piper personal best time of 22:38.
Homemade Pizza Dough
Bike Break in Palm Beach
Yum yum yum
Commence Dining Room Phase 3! We rented scaffolding from Home Depot and Matt and my brother spent an entire day running electrical wires and installing new light fixtures in the dining room and front hall. (Aren’t they cool!!??) In the week leading up the Christmas, Matt worked for hours repairing and painting the walls and installing our (still unfinished) floating credenzas on either side of the room. Eventually they will have wraparound wood tops that complement the table. I also need to design a gallery art wall for the huge empty wall that you can’t see in the above photo. So many details! Someday I’ll post the finished room and it will be awesome.
Piper spent several afternoons at work with me in December (she is well-behaved as long as she can look out her window) and I single-handedly made pan-roasted chicken with harissa chickpeas for Matt for dinner. We joke that usually I am just his sous-chef. We also binge-watched Star Wars movies (IV, V, VI, VII) in preparation for going out to the movies on New Year’s Eve to watch The Last Jedi. We later caught up on episodes I-III in early January.
December was a huge month for running, with two new personal bests in the same weekend. I finished the 2 mile Jingle Elf Run in 14:04 and the 5 mile Brian’s Run in 37:24. All in all, I ended 2017 with 1,314 miles and new PRs in the mile, 2 mile, 5K, 5 mile, and 10 mile. 😄
Piper at Work
Feels like -1°!!
Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
I predicted 22:30. Oops!
OK, January wasn’t part of 2017 but I’m on a roll. On New Year’s Day 2018 I slept in (Star Wars the night before and all) and ate waffles for breakfast before remembering that I had wanted to enter a 5K that started at 10AM. That wasn’t happening, but luckily there was another nearby race that didn’t start until noon. I bundled up in all of my new Christmas running gear and braved a “feels like” temperature of -1°F for the duration of Stanley’s Dream 5K. I finished first in my age group and won a pair of neon yellow gloves which I promptly layered over the two pairs I was already wearing.
Two weeks later I raced on a much nicer day, this time with Piper at the Pickle Run in Ridley Creek State Park. Pickle Runs are prediction runs where you state your time in advance, then race without a watch. The winner is the runner who finished closest to his or her predicted time. To make a long story short, I predicted an aggressive 22:30, but then the course was cut slightly short due to ice and Piper and I finished in 22:05! We didn’t win any prediction prize, but even with the short course I’m pretty sure that was our new fastest time together. Piper and I will run our second Pickle Run this Saturday.
Last but not least, Matt and I received a gigantic enameled cast iron skillet for Christmas (thanks Mom!) and we’ve been having a lot of fun trying new recipes with it. So far we’ve made breakfast strata, tamale pie, and, my favorite, skillet pizza with roast beef, gravy, horseradish and arugula.
In January we also had a work trip to Las Vegas, I ran a trail race in Utah, and we spent a long weekend in Moab, but that’s a story for a different post. Until then, thanks for reading and happy new year! 😄